Small businesses are the heart of the U.S. economy and no one knows that better than a small business owner. Across the nation, small business owners support the dreams of their fellow comrades in local economy boostin’ and right here in the Mid-Ohio Valley we’ve got a small business community that, we think, is a cut above the rest with how they model collaboration and cross-business support.

Not only does our small business community make our region unique, but MOV small business owners also model what it looks like to support local with their business models, community support, outreach, and relationships. 

Madeson Witkosky Barr, General Manager/Co-Owner of Scots Marketplace in Vienna, WV, sees her support of other small businesses as support for her own small business in meaningful, dynamic ways.

Madeson at Scots Marketplace in Vienna, photo by Olivia Reeder

“One of my biggest goals with our company is to connect with local business owners. It’s through our connections that relationships are formed, support systems are created, and we have people to walk our journey with. We want to invite in and lift up as many local businesses that we possibly can,” said Barr. 

“I personally believe that no one is meant to walk alone especially as a business owner. We love showcasing beautiful products and talents throughout our store and during events. Without the support of our community we would be nowhere. I’m forever grateful for the continuous support and we will always remain a positive outlet for those in our community,” she said.

I believe people really appreciate knowing they are supporting small makers when they purchase, whether the maker is from the MOV or beyond.

Not only is small business owner collaboration meaningful for the small business owner, but it is also meaningful for the consumer. Laura Pytlik, Owner of Wit & Whimzy in Marietta, OH believes consumers appreciate the value of supporting businesses that support other businesses.

“I have seen foot traffic specifically for Patterson’s Farms and for some of my other vendors. I believe people really appreciate knowing they are supporting small makers when they purchase, whether the maker is from the MOV or beyond. They love hearing the story behind the products,” said Pytlik.

Kathy Patterson, owner of Patterson’s Farms, restocking her soaps at Wit & Whimzy

Danielle Allphin is a resident of Marietta, OH and an avid supporter of local small businesses. As a consumer in the Mid-Ohio Valley, her desire to support small businesses is not only a matter of community value but also a matter of convenience.

“It is wonderful seeing local businesses coming together to help each other grow and succeed! I’m all about teamwork and it’s fantastic to get to go to one or two stores and be able to purchase from so many different local businesses. I’d much rather go shop downtown Marietta and get to help so many local businesses from Parkersburg who are also vendors in a handful of stores partnering!” said Allphin.

Collaboration across businesses in the Mid-Ohio Valley takes a variety of shapes, which is an indication of the diversity and creativity of our small business community. From retail to retail support to referrals and other partnerships, MOV residents can find small businesses collaboration in most every place they look.

Perfectly Pink Products at Dad’s Primitive Workbench

Lindsey Pinkerton, owner of Perfectly Pink, is an MOV maker of handcrafted bath and body products. For Pinkerton, small business collaboration looks like the ability to find her Perfectly Pink products in six different businesses across the Mid-Ohio Valley.  As a show of her own support of area small businesses, Pinkerton gives back by featuring a local business in their monthly subscription boxes.

“We have been doing monthly subscription boxes since around May of last year. We featured a local business, Crafting N’ Scrapping, in our December box – she made us a Perfectly Pink ornament! We recently featured Lee’s Studio sunscreen and this month we are featuring another small business. Last year, I hosted a 12 days of Christmas Giveaway before the holiday and we featured 11 local businesses in our area. It has been so much fun to collaborate with all of these amazing businesses around us,” said Pinkerton.

For me it’s pretty simple; we live in an agriculturally rich area full of great farms and local vendors – it would be an absolute shame to not take advantage of it.

While collaboration might seem most obvious with local retailers who carry items for their fellow entrepreneurs, but the restaurant and professional service sectors also celebrate local businesses with their own forms of collaboration and small business support.

Larry Sloter, owner of the Busy Bee Restaurant in Marietta, OH, utilizes local ingredients in the dishes he serves. Over a dozen area farms and producers can be found featured on the Busy Bee menu, including Stacy’s Family Farm, Hickory Hill Processing, Twin Pines Dairy, Cedar Run Farm, and more.

Larry Sloter, right, owner of the Busy Bee Restaurant in Harmar, photo by Nate Knobel

“If we can’t find the product we like within the neighboring counties, we try to stay in the state. For me it’s pretty simple; we live in an agriculturally rich area full of great farms and local vendors – it would be an absolute shame to not take advantage of it,” said Sloter. “We have a community of great people trying to pay the bills and put shoes on their kids’ feet just like my staff and I; if we can help them do that then I think we should.”

Ryan Smith, owner of The Law Office of Ryan Smith, values a strong referral network of fellow businesses as a way of serving his clients.

“We provide a service that most people need, but that only lawyers can provide – estate planning and real estate work. To help people find my office, we are regularly working with financial advisors, insurance agents, realtors, other lawyers, and community groups to help match people who need help with people who can provide help whether that is my office, another attorney, or a civic group,” said Smith.

Erin Wells is the owner of Mountain Ears Hearing Clinic in Parkersburg, WV and, like The Law Office of Ryan Smith, leans into small business collaboration to provide added benefit to her clients. Wells has partnered with Quality Care Associates (QCA) Urgent Care and Wellness Center in Marietta to take patient support to the next level.

“We want to be able to offer our patients something extra that is outside of our expertise. We are both local owners that want to support local businesses. I know I always try to use local businesses for my events or giveaways like Jeremiah’s Coffee House and Zenergy Massage. We have such awesome local business owners and we love to support each other!” said Wells.

Sugar Shack Syrup, a local vendor, at Jeremiah’s Coffee House, photo by Allison Chadock

Stephanie Sanderson Fitness is a local small business who relies on partnerships with other fellow small businesses to support her own.

“I rent a spot for my fitness classes at Marietta Dance Academy weekly. I’ve collaborated with Healthy Start Nutrition on delivering shakes to my class attendees after their workouts. And, my spring and summer stroller classes would end up at All Pro Nutrition after taking the trail for a snack and shake,” said Sanderson.

A small business community of collaboration is beneficial to both the businesses themselves and the consumers who support them. Outside of the partnerships and referrals, though, the MOV small business community is a cut above the rest because of the attitude that surrounds support for local. It’s not just a checkmark on a list; it’s a way of life and it carries when seemingly no one is watching.

Hunt Brawley, Executive Director of Peoples Bank Theatre, recounted a story of how small businesses in the Mid-Ohio Valley consistently go above and beyond to support their fellow small business owners.

“In a recent meeting, a County Commissioner from Woodsfield shared that he came to Marietta in search of a porcelain Christmas tree decoration. He ended up going to three or four different stores in downtown Marietta and ended up in Parkersburg to find it. But, he was amazed that each Marietta merchant seemed more interested in helping him find what he wanted than making a sale. How’s that for a sales pitch!” said Brawley.

Small business owners are community leaders and set the tone for our communities to engage; when small business owners model collaboration in spirit and in action, it transforms the quality of life in a town.

Now, more than ever, during the COVID-19 pandemic, support for small businesses is vital to the support for our communities. Small businesses have shown in countless ways the lengths they’re willing to go to support the needs of our region; it’s time for us to go to our own great lengths to support them in return.