Start-Up Hartsville competition announces winners
Handmade accessory boutique Seersuckergypsy as well as Retrofit sip-n-seat, a repurposed furniture boutique and wine bar, will soon set up shop in downtown Hartsville with $12,000 each in cash plus incentives after winning the Start-Up Hartsville competition for new business development. The winners of the challenge, created by the Duke Energy Center for Innovation (DECI) and Main Street Hartsville, were announced May 20 in a ceremony at Black Creek Arts Center.
The two start-up businesses, which must now open in Hartsville’s downtown by October, were selected from eight applying new businesses to enter the contest in February. At Wednesday’s ceremony, all four Start-Up Hartsville finalists – Seersuckergypsy, Retrofit sip-n-seat, MezzoForté Restaurant as well as The Grooming Lounge, A Vintage Barber Shop –presented their business concepts for a chance to win the People’s Choice Award, a $2,000 prize voted on by the ceremony’s attendees. MezzoForté Restaurant, a restaurant concept incorporating live performances and dinner theater presented by Brian Forté and Wanda Forté, won the People’s Choice Award.
Seersuckergypsy and Retrofit sip-n-seat secured the two $12,000 prizes after all Start-Up Hartsville finalists presented fully developed business plans to a selection panel made of representatives from local industries and economic development professionals. The $12,000 now available for each of the winning startups will take the form of loans which can be forgiven if they meet all criteria of the program going forward, along with assistance with marketing and promotions as well as accounting and legal.
Seersuckergypsy, described by creator Roxie Gardner as “an artisan boutique offering an eclectic selection of local handmade treasures,” is planned to be located at 211 N. Fifth St.
“Seersuckergypsy creates an intimate shopping experience by promoting local artists,” Gardner said. “Our one-of-a-kind products, exciting events and innovative ideas make Seersuckergypsy a unique shopping destination. The friendly staff and Southern hospitality are guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on our community.”
Retrofit sip-n-seat, the creation of entrepreneur Brandy Stellingworth, will be a shop combining revitalized, repurposed furniture with a wine bar to offer a brand new experience that cannot be found in South Carolina. The shop will feature wine dispensers alongside staged “upcycled” furniture for sale. The business is planned to open at 108-B East Carolina Avenue.
Stellingworth said she hoped that the new business will enhance the local community and contribute to Hartsville becoming more of a destination.
“Participating in Start-Up Hartsville has made me look at all aspects of opening a business as well as the act of completing a business plan, something that I may not have done otherwise,” she said. “This completion has given me the confidence that my business will succeed.”
“Start-Up Hartsville has come along at a very exciting time for downtown Hartsville, when storefronts are filling up with occupants one after the other,” DECI Director Ben Chastain said. “Because of everyone who has contributed their time, talents and resources to this project, innovative new business ideas will get their chance to enter that marketplace, creating jobs and strengthening our retail mix.”
“The number of entrepreneurs, and the passion we have seen from them, has been inspiring,” Main Street Hartsville Executive Director Suzy Moyd said. “I’m looking forward to another round of Start-Up Hartsville starting this fall.”