A few years into his presidency, Ronald Reagan gave a speech. A speech that seemed unimportant then but resonates still with many people. In it, he stated that, “America is small business…men and women who had the spirit to dream impossible dreams, take great risks and work long hours to make their dream come true.”
He acknowledged that big business is an important component of capitalism but big conglomerates all began with an idea and entrepreneurs with faith in themselves and their dreams.
Walton County is rife with successful small businesses dedicated to making their lives and the life of the community their number one goal and people are living their dream.
The upcoming holiday season is traditionally the busiest time of the year and area small businesses are ready.
In Loganville off of Claude Brewer Road, the busyness of life melts away. Lion’s Creek Farmaceuticals provides a unique niche in the community. Linda Rivers runs an alpaca farm which sells alpaca dryer balls, bird nesting materials, pet toys as well as soil amendments and gift cards. Her handcrafted dryer balls are a bestseller and she often makes double her regular amount of dryer balls during the holidays.
Rivers reveals, “I am a member of Georgia Grown, and I have received many inquiries and orders from tourists who like to support the local artisans from the regions they have visited.”
Customers can find Lion’s Creek products via the internet and to Farmview Market in Madison. They have a strong tourist clientele as well as local business who frequent their Georgia Grown store.
Rivers knows that word of-mouth is still a very powerful and valuable form of advertising. When the new customer approaches her shop with great anticipation, it’s based on someone else’s positive experience.
The iconic twinkling lighted trees in downtown Monroe are a small part of what draws customers to shop but the biggest attraction are the small businesses.
The Armory Bookstore is one such small business—a small business with strong faith from the owner Michele Yarbrough and other employees.
She continued. “Small business could not survive without local support. We love building relationships with our customers and keeping up with their life events. It’s what makes running a small business special. The locals are also the key to sharing about our business through word of mouth and social media. It’s especially important for our type of store because offering books and Bibles is a big risk in today’s online market.”
When asked how important collaboration is with other businesses and government, she was effusive in her admiration.
“The downtown authority does an excellent job of hosting events all year to bring business to Downtown Monroe. The businesses go the extra mile to work together and make these events fun and creative for the community,” she praised.
Their best seller, with no surprise, is the Bibles. The Armory is unique from other bookstores in that they offer Bible imprinting.
One of their favorite times of the year is Christmas where the shop is completely transformed and decorated with ornaments, nativity sets, Christmas books and home décor.
Yarbrough continued. “Having a Christian Bookstore in Monroe is a true gem. With the closing of all LifeWay Christian Bookstores in 2019, it left people in search of a place to look for a Bible and Christian products IN PERSON. It’s truly one of many stores that make Monroe a unique place to shop. We have people come from all over to shop.”
She summarized the store’s calling succinctly. “We are a small shop with a BIG mission and we don’t take it lightly!
Buffalo Gal Grassfed Beauty grew out of a need for healthy, wholesome skincare. Shalley Carrell and her husband David have a large farm outside of Monroe.
They raise various animals including water buffalo which provides the basis for Carrell’s tallow skincare. Their line includes tallow balms and body butters, soap, deodorants, hair care products, and more
Carrell stated, “I have been passionate about health and wellness since I was a teen. I didn’t really take care of my skin until I reached my mid-30s when I lived out west in a high desert alpine climate. I was over-exposed to the sun and developed very dry skin. I used natural brands of lotions but could never find a product or ingredient that could satiate my skin for very long. There always seemed to be a missing ingredient that I was very interested in finding. That’s when I started to become interested in starting a skincare line.
A friend taught me how to render tallow and the first time I spilled some on my counter it got all over my hands. They never felt softer! A light bulb went off as I thought of making a lip balm with it, and later a facial moisturizer. We were the feature farm at a conference in Atlanta where I also sold my skincare products to the public for the first time. And Buffalo Gal Grassfed Beauty was born! We were one of the very first tallow-based skincare businesses!”
Carrell continued, “Value adding is important for all businesses, and especially for farms. This skincare business was the perfect way for us to add significant value to our existing meat operation.”
She went on to revealed that tallow based skincare is becoming very popular these days with so many people making the switch to healthier lifestyles in general. “People are choosing farm fresh foods over processed foods. This pursuit of health is carried through in their choices for hair and skincare products as well. What we put on our skin is just as important as what we put in our bodies! My kind of customer is someone looking for a healthy, safe choice for effective skincare products. They love supporting a small, artisanal business.”
While Carrell ships her products worldwide, she depends on and loves to meet local people that support her small business. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and our country! Small business drives job creation, and is at the heart of innovation. Local communities like ours enjoys terrific economic growth as a result of the existence of small businesses!”
Tradition tells that Social Circle was named by a weary traveler who came upon a well where locals gathered and was given water to quench his thirst. That welcoming feeling extends to local small businesses.
Angel Dust Gifts and Décor is one such place. Owner Cindy Griswell has created a welcoming oasis a short drive from the Interstate 20. Stocked with items not found in a big box store, she takes pride in offering items from Ireland and exclusive handmade candles. Their inventory changes seasonally and gift cards are available for purchase.
“Our Angel Dust Candles that are made by my youngest son Dusty Griswell is the bestselling item. After that, probably (Social Circle High School) Redskins spirit wear and then signs. We carry a wide assortment of signs,” Griswell stated.
Angel Dust’s success is local support and foot traffic from tourists looking for gifts as well as relationships. “The locals help to keep the businesses going. We try to help out as much as we can with opportunities within the community to participate in sponsorships.”
Griswell elaborated, “We have a merchants group that meets every other month to stay on top of all of the events and we all play a part in trying to come up with events to draw people into the downtown area.”
Another small business, Deep South Cattle, is thriving. While the family farm is in Washington, Debra Daniel and her family live and operate the Deep South Cattle General Store. Recognizing the growing importance of farm to table dining, the General Store focuses on providing the fresh meat from their Angus and 100% Wagyu cows.
Daniel stated. “My husband and I live in Social Circle. We have three daughters and two grandchildren. We purchased our building in Social Circle in 2021. We renovated the building and turned it into the Deep South General Store. We sell meat from our farm, pork products, fresh Georgia shrimp (seasonal), quail, and many grocery items and seasonal decor for your kitchen.
“We recently just added meals to-go that are from two local businesses. We love to support the community and other businesses.”
Daniel knows that local citizens are the backbone of any business. “It’s essential for a healthy economy. It helps to keep the money circulated within the community while also allowing us to connect with the community on a personal level.”
To that end, the General Store sponsors many sports at the local high school and has a presence at all city events including the Friendship Festival which is the kick start to the holiday season.
The inventory is constantly changing and adapting to their clientele. With offering free materials to make a gift basket for your purchased items, they also supply kitchen items, décor and condiments. But their biggest seller is the meat raised on their farm.
Daniel said, “We are a family operation, and we take pride in what we raise on the farm and sell in our store. We want to bring you the meat you deserve.”
It seems the Great Communicator foresaw great things in America. President Reagan knew that a tiny flame of conviction by a dreamer can roll into a bonfire with the “investments of brave people with hope for the future, trust in their fellow man and faith in God.”
Lions Creek Farm
3665 Claude Brewer Road
The Armory Bookstore
118 N Broad Street
Buffalo Gal Grassfed Beauty
710 Riverbend Road
Angel Dust Gifts and Decor
153 S Cherokee Rd
Deep South Cattle Company
136 E. Sycamore Street