Growing a Business with Kindness, Creativity, and Grace
Clutch MOV is proud to sponsor this year’s Mid-Ohio Valley Entrepreneur of the Year. Clutch MOV envisions a community where citizens can take risks on the promise that success would uplift the residents of our valley. Our artists, creators, innovators, and small business owners strive to build something new, better meet the needs of our community, and nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of our region. These entrepreneurs are on the edge, finding new ways to build, create, and serve. This year we received dozens of nominations for innovative, forward-thinking, community-building entrepreneurs from the Mid-Ohio Valley. The panel believed five individuals stood out for the impact they are making through their work. We are sharing their stories in this series.
Madeson Witkosky Barr learned to love plants from an early age, growing up in the family business her father started in 1976. Scots Landscape was known for its eleven-acre nursery and garden center, providing home-grown plants and landscaping for any style and budget. When the time came for Barr to attend college, her parents encouraged her to expand her horizons and she earned her Bachelors Degree in Communication Studies at Marietta College. She considered a career in healthcare administration, but instead decided to return to her home and the family business she loved.
While she appreciated and loved the business her family had begun, Barr was eager to implement her own ideas for the retail division of Scots. In 2016, she became manager of the store and took the thriving garden center to an even higher level of success. She expanded the gift shop to include unique gifts and collectibles, creating dynamic displays in the loft and showcasing local artisans. The combination of handmade items and fun merchandise resulted in record daily retail sales and increased customer traffic.
“Expanding our services meant creating more diversity in our store to help draw in a larger scope of customers,” Barr said. “We wanted our space to be more of a destination where our community can make memories and truly enjoy this space with their loved ones.”
The most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur is the amount of interaction and engagement I have with our community.
With the addition of Sugar Grove, Scots has certainly become a destination for many people. The retro style Sweet Shoppe serves up delectable baked goods and ice cream treats in a comfortable space that invites customers to slow down and relax. In addition to the Gift Loft and Sugar Grove, Barr is rightfully proud of the Marketplace on the main level of the business. The displays are filled with fresh produce from local and regional growers, specialty items and quality packaged foods. And she is often on site, greeting customers with a warm welcome as if they were friends invited into her home.
As most entrepreneurs know, owning or running a business requires the ability to balance all the various facets of that business, and Barr acknowledges that Scots’ diversity makes her job challenging. But she is quick to add that the rewards of entrepreneurship are great.
“The most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur is the amount of interaction and engagement I have with our community,” she said. “Working with the staff can also be rewarding as I watch others grow and develop. Most of our spring/summer staff are college students, so knowing that this can be a foundation for them to start their work history can be extremely fulfilling to experience as we love on them and work hand and hand with them. Overall, the relationships that are formed are priceless!”
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic created difficult challenges for any business owner and Scots was no exception. When they should have been enjoying the busiest season of the year, they were forced to temporarily close their doors. However, under Barr’s management, the business not only pivoted but found ways to excel.
“When we closed our doors, we modified our event retail business to only curbside availability and offered all of our products through curbside service,” said Barr. “We’re thankful that our customers trusted us to pick out their garden seeds, flowers, and other supplies while using our modified services.”
I truly try to lead with compassion and kindness, so I hope our community feels loved and cared for when they step into our store.
Despite the obstacles the pandemic presented, Barr and her team made the best of the situation. “The decision to close was a difficult one, one we did not want to make. We understood the frustration of our store being closed. We missed our customers and we missed our Scots Team,” she said. “We made the decision to close our doors to protect our community, but we did not choose to give up. We gave it our best and we’re thankful to the people in our community that were patient and kind to us throughout the process.”
That community support inspired Barr and her family to support their fellow small business owners in turn. They bought and ate local as often as possible, promoted other businesses on social media, and reached out to fellow business owners to offer encouragement.
That spirit of kindness and community engagement has earned Barr the recognition and admiration from customers and fellow business people alike. And that aligns with her mission to create a positive space where everyone feels welcome.
“Building relationships with our customers holds a high value to us. I truly try to lead with compassion and kindness, so I hope our community feels loved and cared for when they step into our store.” Her philanthropy extends to charity, and her nominator wrote that Barr has raised funds for the Humane Society, Strecker Cancer Center and United Way.
If there is one thing Barr would like more people to know, it’s that Scots is truly a family-run business. “I have over ten family members that work for the company. We work around the clock, most weeks seven days a week to provide the best for our community.”
Despite the hard work and long hours, she is quick to encourage others who may consider following their own dream.
It’s okay to lean on others because we cannot do everything alone.
“Go for it! Do not limit yourself, because with hard work all things are possible. The good always outweighs the bad, so remember that when times are difficult. It’s okay to lean on others because we cannot do everything alone. Step out in faith!”
If she is named the 2021 MOV Entrepreneur of the Year, Barr said she would be overjoyed and honored to have her work recognized. And not surprisingly, she thinks first of her community when considering the possibility.
“I would like to further my partnerships with fellow business leaders, local businesses, and local organizations that help make a difference in our community.”
The 2021 MOV Entrepreneur of the Year will be publicly announced during a special program during the Mid-Ohio Valley Entrepreneurial Expo on September 23rd, 2021 hosted by Marietta College, following a panel discussion with all five finalists. Register today!