Got Your Back Richmond

Use ‘Em or Loose ‘Em : What I Learned at RMA First Friday Forum

Attending the Retail Merchant Association First Friday Forum is always an educational event, and the January program did not disappoint.  The topic was Use ‘Em or Loose ‘Em: Save Low Fares, and the panel of experts did a great job educating us all on why we need to use the low fare carriers, ie AirTrans or JetBlue. Here’s what other RMA members learned from the program. Richmond Times Dispatch attended also.

Day 24: Susan Franck owner of Franck’s Apothecary & Bodyworks

When you enter Franck’s Apothecary & Bodyworks the wonderful aroma is the first thing you notice. It’s fresh orange scent gives you a warm comfortable feeling. Then, when you meet Susan it’s easy to see why she opened her shop. Her knowledge about homeopathic remedies is impressive.

Susan Franck

Susan Franck

Day 23: Shaun Franck owner of Junk in the Trunk

I don’t spend much time in Ashland, so I was very grateful for the opportunity to visit Junk in the Trunk and learn more about Shaun. This eclectic guy and shop are worth the trip.

Shaun Franck

Shaun Franck

Day 22: Joe Cheslock owner of Sycamore Jewelers

I love when these small business owners share stories of who they are or how they became who they are and Joe did not disappoint. His story not only taught him a valuable less, his dad called him and was very happy to hear Joe’s story and know how much it effected him. I can dig it. Hope you can as well.

Joe Cheslock

Joe Cheslock

Day 21: Grace Manor Inn

A wonderful Victorian Bed and Breakfast located in the heart of Richmond’s fan district. You’ll love meeting Albert and Dawn. Great, down to earth people that have reinvented their businesses to make the most of them. They really make it work!

Day 20: Carytown Cupcake

Coming into the home stretch, with only 10 days left, 10 interviews, and 10 videos. Today’s video features Dawn Schick owner of Carytown Cupcakes and Grace Manor Inn. Like many entrepreneurs I’m finding that in order to make you business successful, you own not one business, but two. Dawn found that with the commercial kitchen at Grace Manor Inn only being used for the Bed & Breakfast clients she wasn’t using her resources enough to make ends meet. Then, she found an answer with Carytown Cupcakes. Smart plan, and what many have realized they need to do to make it.

LOL Carytown Cupcakes

LOL Carytown Cupcakes

LOL One Smart Cupcake

LOL One Smart Cupcake

Day 19: The Station Cafe

Bart Shaw, the owner of The Station Cafe is one unique character. I first met Bart about 13 years ago when he became a member of my ComedySportz Improv company. He was a quirky then as he is to this day. He walks to his own drummer, and is fine in doing so. The kids got moxie!

LOL at The Station Cafe

LOL at The Station Cafe

Day 18: Had a ton of video filming and editing to do today. The challenge was post a video a day. Well, In keeping with my Buen Camino I need to post something, so here it is. This is from the First Friday Forum breakfast. This was also the day Bill Seldon, owner of C. P. Dean,  won Retailer of the Year.

Some of the ComedySportz players also song a few Christmas carols for the members. The last song song was an improv song created on the spot. The audience yelled out suggestions, and they were porch 911, diamond jewelry, and customers! We all had a great time, I was so happy the CSz team did such a great job. The hight light moment was the entire room joining in on the chorus at the end.

Big shout out to my friend Nhat Pham for having my back and holding the camera and filming. Thank you sir; you really are Phamtastic!!

Day 17: Y Y Salon

I received a gift certificate for Y Y a few years ago, and had a very transformation experience. Generally, I’m a much more impulsive person. I used to just pick up scissors and cut away, and the style was much more carefree, or Medusa looking with my curls flying everywhere. Needless to say I’ve been going to Y Y ever since.

Day 16: River City Roller Girls

What a great sport! What great women! I was so inspired that I wanted to put on a pair of quad skates and join in the fun. Back in the day I loved quad skating and haven’t skated in many, many a year!

Day 15: MacLaren

Do you remember the old Mike Myers SNL skit “All Things Scottish“. While I wouldn’t say the Brydon’s are like that, I would say they’re proud of their heritage.

While attending the association of Network for Enterprising Women, NEW,  I met the fun and vivacious Lizzie Oglesby.  You can tell from her 30 second commercial that she really likes her job. She stands and starts with “Yup, I’m wearin’ MacLaren“. After chatting with her, I thought that the Brydon’s would make a great story for the GYBR project. They did, but more than that, meeting them and getting the tour of their shop was quite a memorable experience.

They are so grateful for all the people that have assisted in designing their store, creating their products, and work in their shop that it shines through in every little thing they do. Go ahead, go visit them. Make sure you get to see Murphy and Nana do their floor show!

Day 14: Buckhead’s

What a neat guy is that Mark Herndon, owner of Buckhead’s. In this video he comes across as earnest and frank, and he was. It took a bit for him to break away from the “I’m supposed to be a professional business person” mentality when ever the camera was filming. When the camera wasn’t his quick sharp wit had us rolling.

Oh too often entrepreneurs think they need to be the “professional business person” in order to get the business. Personally, I think we purchase from the person we know, and we want to know who these “owners” really are. We want to know the real person. I think this video gets a glimpse of who Mark Herndon is, and what he expects his establishment to be for his customers.

One person suggested that since the Andre sisters love going to Buckhead’s that we’ll all be going out one Thursday night to visit with Mark and celebrate life with a drink and some great food.

Mark Herndon LOL

Mark Herndon LOL

Day 13: O’Toole’s Restaurant & Pub

John O’Toole is not one for over exaggerating! He is your good ol’ boy that owns the local pub, and that local pub is the center of the universe for the customers that frequent the place and have for years.

If this video seems shorter than the rest it’s because John is a rather quite guy, doesn’t like to elaborate or use more words than he’s allotted in a day. He says what he needs to and ends it there, all the while keeping a smile on his face.

Well, that’s my take, perhaps he’s not this guy at all, and the guy I happened to interview is woefully camera shy. Either way, I got the feeling that he genuinely loves his place, loves his customers, and loves what he does.

Day 12: Barrelthief Wine Shop and Cafe

Ross loves his work! And he should! Each time I went into the shop to get this interview he had vineyard reps presenting tastings of a plethora of different wines. A plethora I tell you!!! If you were in his shoes, wouldn’t you love your job?

Now, unlike you or myself, Ross had the discipline to just taste each bottle. That’s why he’s not under the table during the interview, like, well, you or I would be.

I find it amazing that his business partner is his best friend, and someone he’s known since he was six. I also find it hard to believe that he doesn’t remember meeting his best friend, because as he puts it “he was six”. I say poppycock! Why, just look at his face and his eyes in the video when he says it! I say he’s holding out on us! He just doesn’t want to tell us that he really DOES remember the exact day, because that would sound weirder than the fact that they both had blond bowl hair cuts!

Listen, if he does ever fess up and tell you he does remember, be a sport and let me know. Okay! Awesome!

Day 11: Bumble & Co.

Kimberly is driven to serve her customers. The first day we met, her one focus was that there was a customer in the store, and what ever I was telling her was not nearly as important as the customer that was “in the store”. I love that. That’s what makes the small business owners that I meet such amazing people. They care. Remember what that’s like to have someone actually care about us….the customer. Perhaps that’s the very reasons we enjoy the people in our neighborhood, the people that own the shops that make our town so special.

BTW….do you remember the song from Sesame Street? You know the one I mean “Who are the People in Your Neighborhood”.

Day Ten:

Tweed! What a great store, and great people. I had never been to Tweed before, but my friend, Nancy Sherigian owner of Jake & Friends introduced us, and I’m glad she did. If you’ve been reading this blog you know about “Yes And”; the improv philosophy to working together and moving forward. Well, these two ladies embraced that concept from the get go.

They were ready to go and all for it. Then as I was taking the LOL hand sign picture, I noticed the LOL letters just behind them. After taking that picture, Mama Carol turned around and said keep ’em. Being the mush (pronounced mooosh) that I am, I became verklempt.

Tweeds Lessons Of Laughter

Tweeds Lessons Of Laughter

LOL with Tweed

LOL with Tweed

Day Nine: Fido Park Avenue Dog Boutique

I just met Chris and Don as a result of the Got Your Back Richmond project and they are truly adorable. These two retired folks came to be closer to their grand children, and while here finally started living out their dream to own their own shop, Fido Park Avenue Dog Boutique.

My first visit there was with my friend, Nancy Sherigian, of Jake and Friends. Being a dog owner she was oooo-ing and ahhh-ing all over the place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big dog lover too, but it was more fun to watch Nancy stroll around the store with her childlike wonder. Go see for yourself.

Day Eight:

Have you met Joey? Have you had one of his Hot Dogs? Joey’s Hot Dogs are voted the best in Richmond.

Okay look, I’m a big hot dog fan, from a long line of hot dog people. When Joey called me three years ago and asked if he could hire ComedySportz to perform at his first restaurant I didn’t know what to say.

That restaurant is located in a conveniences store/gas station on Ridgefield Turnpike. I asked what kind of fries he was going to serve and he responded with “none, if they’re still hungry they can order another hot dog!” I thought this guy was crazy and that he’d be closed with in six months, so I gave him a performance. We actually performed for hot dogs. It’s been three years, and now he just opened his second stand located in Innsbrook. Well, I’ve been eating my words and his hot dogs ever since.

Day Seven:

I meet up with my mastermind group every week at Stir Crazy. This local coffee shop, and I can tell you we’re not the only group that does this. It’s comfortable, we’re always very productive, we’re becoming regulars and getting to know the other regulars.

It’s a great place to go, meet, enjoy coffee or something to eat. The environment is so relaxing you would think that running such a shop was a breeze. Jerry makes it all seem so easy. Meet Jerry for yourself at Stir Crazy, and while you’re there enjoy a good…no…a great cup o joe!

Day Six:

Mary Fender, owner of Frame Nation, is silly, witty, kooky and don’t let that fool you, she’s an excellent business woman and artist!

She has chutzpah to boot! Watch and meet Mary Fender! Remember when you’re thinking about framing your art or pictures to pay her a visit and let her create a piece you’ll be happy to either give as a gift or hang on your wall!

Day Five:

All Fired Up

A Paint Your Own Ceramics Studio

Amy Tulley is simply put, lovely. I called and left a message with the concept for the Got Your Back Richmond project, and without hesitation or really knowing me she said Yes And. Again those two words are the basis for this improvisers life, and many others as well.

After explaining how the interview was conducted, she sat down, and just spoke right to me and to you, the customers that she cares so much about. This video doesn’t show a great deal of the shop because I simply couldn’t cut any of this lovely lady’s expressions out. So, I’ll tell you, the shop has great products and ideas for gifts. I’m going back to paint the deviled egg serving platter for John for Christmas. shhh, don’t tell him I told you.

Honestly, I couldn’t believe how affordable it is to play with the ceramics and leave with a gift/creation of your own. For some reason, I had it in my head that it was much, much more expensive. Who know right? Well, now I do. Thanks Amy for sharing your story!

Day Four:

Franklin Goose

The One Shop Organic Baby Shop

This store features everything organic for your baby needs. The company just opened their flag ship store in Carytown VA. Here is their story as told by Sheri Doyle, one of the owners of the company.

And for the record, I’ve been enjoying this project tremendously. I’ve learned so much already, and am looking forward to meeting and greeting more.

This interview really touched Sherri, and well during the interviewing I actually got as verklempt as Sherri.

Sherri is so warm, welcoming, and knowledgeable about everything organic. And the store, well it in of itself is simply amazing. Everything in the shop has a purpose and is actually “re-purposed”. The shelves where doors, a couple of radiators are now a desk, the designer created a pure gem in that space.

Thank you to the first four small business owners for sharing your story! And thank you to those that are following this journey with us and spreading the word. Coolness and hats of to you! Now, it’s off to bed after a terribly long night of editing. At least I’m getting faster with the process. Peace out y’all!

Day Three: Tom French Flowers at 17 N. Belmont Street

Have you ever been to Tom French Flowers?

If you haven’t, you’ll want to swing by. The store is beyond BEYOND! It’s wonderful, a little piece of spectacular right in our back yard.

Oh sure, the outside decoration of the regal seven foot wood carved peacock truly artisanship and draws you in to open the door and enter. Inside the store is colorful and full of different baubles and such, but the true heart of the store is the owner. And honey, if I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’. Standing there, interviewing Tom with my little flip camera reminded me of reading “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” . He’s one of the characters that truly ads to the southern charm and beauty of Richmond.

Watch and learn more about Tom French Flowers

and visit his website
Day 2

Andre’s Day Spa and Unique Gifts

Meet the sisters that own and operate this local gem. When you go to this salon, not only do you leave with great nails, or a facial, etc. but you honestly feel like you’ve just been part of some kind of character driven wacky movie like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”

The three sisters, Pam, Elli, and Cynthia all have they’re own style and place in their family and shop. The day I stopped by only Elli was comfortable being in the video. Cynthia’s hands display the local art work, and Pam is in the far back. The diva wasn’t camera ready that day. I caught her with out her glam hair, glam make up or spanx. It was a hysterical moment to say the least.

Day 1

Life Is Good! And that’s exactly how Jake & Friends owner Nancy Sherigian likes to live.

Life Is Good

Nancy opened a Life is Good store in Short Pump just over a year ago. She loves the philosophy of the company and has been an avid fan since a friend gave her her first hat.

She loves what she does and it shows. Not only does she love Life is Good so do her loyal fans. They feel quite at home coming into the store to say hi, pet store welcoming employee Saddie, and picking up a few shirts, hats, books, or, well, anything that their hearts desire.

She’s local, she’s cool, and she enjoys being a part of the Richmond culture and one of the many locally owned Richmond small business owners.

See her interview



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