The push to shop small is stronger than ever, and more and more people are spending their money at local businesses.
The Ohio Valley’s veteran entrepreneurs have noticed the shift and hope to see young people come back to the area to open their businesses.
“We have a great community, and small business is what makes this community really grow. Right now, we are in a pivotal moment where there’s so much change. We’ve got leadership looking at small businesses. The challenge a small business has is getting the support of the community and also bringing back our young entrepreneurs,” said Stacy Gilson, a seasoned local entrepreneur.
Jennifer Wahlbrink is the perfect example of a young entrepreneur who came home to Belmont County to pursue her dreams.
She opened Timeless Charm on Main Street in St. Clairsville in early 2016.
Wahlbrink had no experience as a business owner but decided to open a shop to sell old furniture that she would find and refurbish.
It did not take long for her business to take off.
They say the first year can make or break a small business, and in Timeless Charm’s first year they have expanded to include a clothing boutique.
Wahlbrink says she now sells more clothing than furniture but is still extremely busy.
In fact, she says if she has learned anything about being a successful small business owner it is that you never have a day off.
“A lot of business owners don’t make it or it is too hard to make it, but that was definitely something I learned fast is how time consuming it is,” said Wahlbrink.
Another lesson she has learned: If you are going to open a business and want it to be a success, prepare to invest in it.
She says sometimes it feels like she is working for free because the money she makes goes right back into the business, but to other aspiring entrepreneurs, she says do not be too afraid of the risk.
“If you do have that dream, I would always recommend just go for it. Do it. If it works out, it works out. At least you know that you tried,” said Wahlbrink.
Wahlbrink plans to keep expanding and serve the community she calls home.
Timeless Charm is open Tuesday through Saturday. You can find hours at TheTimelessCharm.com.