21 Oct 2019 Searcy, businesses featured on show
Story and photo
by Megan Stroud
After nearly a year of coming together as a community under the rallying call of the revolution, Season Four of The Small Business Revolution is here, but the momentum of the revolution in Searcy is far from over.
The Small Business Revolution — Main Street is an eight-episode television series presented by Deluxe to feature the impact small businesses have in towns across America. Co-host and marketing expert Amanda Brinkman’s idea to spend Deluxe’s marketing budget helping other businesses has grown into a movement.
After submissions, town visits and a public vote, Searcy was chosen to be the featured town on and received a $500,000 investment, marketing training from Deluxe and Amanda Brinkman, and help from co-host and renovation icon Ty Pennington.
“From the beginning of the campaign to try and win Small Business Revolution, we experienced community-wide unity unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before,” said Mat Faulkner, owner of Think Idea Studio. “All city departments, universities, churches, schools, businesses, community members — everyone focused their efforts on one common goal. This unity in itself is paramount to Searcy continuing to see positive growth and change moving forward. I believe we were already headed in the right direction before Deluxe came to town, and this experience really accelerated our progress.”
During his first visit, Pennington was “enchanted” by the charm of Searcy’s downtown square, the art movement and murals, and the historic architecture in places like the Rialto Theater. Brinkman was taken with Searcy’s heart for the foster care community and the drive of the town to move forward.
“In our very first visit when Searcy was in the Top 10 phase before we had moved on to the final six that were put up for public vote, I was just so struck by how many parents I met who were foster care families,” Brinkman said in a Skype interview on the day the show premiered. “I just think it’s such a sign of love and openness to do that. From the very first moment I stepped into Searcy, I heard a lot about that and it was certainly something that helped Searcy stand out to us.”
After being chosen as the featured town, Deluxe took applications and chose 12 finalists that ultimately became the six businesses featured on the show. In the first episode Brinkman discusses choosing these six businesses and the challenge it was to not only pick, but to select businesses that represented Searcy’s business landscape.
“Every year we are looking for what makes this particular town unique. In Searcy, the thing that stands out most is their universal commitment to giving back, so it’s only appropriate that two of our 12 finalists were non-profits,” Brinkman said on episode one of Small Business Revolution — Mainstreet.
Ultimately, Whilma’s Filipino Restaurant, ARganic woodwork, El Mercado, Nooma Yoga Studio, Zion Climbing and Event Center, and Savor and Sip Coffeehouse were chosen, and each received mentor relationships, personalized marketing strategies, new websites, $25,000 in renovations, and financial advice from experts at Deluxe with an episode of the show summarizing their journey.
“The six businesses that won a spot on the show received improvements from Deluxe, but the improvements didn’t stop there,” Faulkner said. “Other businesses throughout town jumped on the wave of excitement and took time to care for and improve their own businesses. Owners began cleaning the exteriors of their buildings, updated their branding and launched new marketing efforts. We also experienced an increase in cooperation and cross-promotion from one business to another. Even competitors reached out to refer customers to each other.”
Businesses across town came together to help each other, expressing what Pennington described as a “synergy.”
At Beats & Eats, which became the backdrop for the finale episode, Brinkman encouraged the community to continue to support each other and said, “Searcy is certainly poised to prove what happens when a town leads with love.”
In addition to the renovations of the six businesses, Deluxe also announced at Beats & Eats that they were funding a grant for Sparrow’s Promise to fund the foster care work in Searcy, a revitalization of Citizen’s Park complete with a stage for live outdoor performances, and a mural representing diversity and inclusion.
After all the work they did, the momentum shouldn’t stop here. It’s meant to carry Searcy further into a revolution of its own. In the finale episode, Pennington said, “We want to come help you succeed, and we will give you all the tools we have at our disposal to make that happen, but after that it’s up to you.”
“The magic question is ‘What’s next? How do we make the most of this gift?’ I think the answers lie in reflecting on what it took to get to this point,” Faulkner said. “Sustaining collaboration, communication and unity among all organizations and leaders is vital to continued growth and progress. This is everyone’s hometown, and we all need to take an active role in making it better.”