Bargain Mart in the Tazewell Four-Way Shopping Center was a recent recipient of a $10,000 VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Grant. On hand for the ceremonial check presentation were, from left, Pam Warden, Tazewell County Economic Development Manager; VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher; Sharon Thomas, Bargain Mart owner; and Maggie Asbury, VCEDA Board Member and Tazewell County Board of Supervisors chairperson.

TAZEWELL, VA – December 7, 2018 With the closing of a major retail store in the Tazewell area earlier this year, Sharon and John Thomas saw a void that perhaps they could help to fill and with the assistance of a $10,000 seed capital matching grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA), she opened Bargain Mart LLC.

Located in the Four-Way Shopping Center in Tazewell, the new business offers TVs, appliances, household items, electronics, toys, sporting goods, tools, automotive, shoes, clothing, fixtures, plumbing supplies and more in the 2,500-square-foot store.

The store officially opened a little less than a month ago on November 19.

“It’s a little like an old country store,” Sharon Thomas said. “There’s one-stop shopping here to find what you are looking for.”

The store, a discount department store specializing in the sale of general merchandise at wholesale prices, offers what Thomas referred to as quality liquidated merchandise.

“When you come here, you will find a bargain,” Thomas said. “Items in our store are probably 55 percent less in cost when purchased here versus what you might find in other stores. As we become more savvy at buying, we expect to pass on those savings to our customers.”

“VCEDA was pleased to assist Bargain Mart with a seed capital matching grant,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “Helping entrepreneurs in our region to create jobs and to develop and grow their small businesses is what the seed capital matching grant fund is all about.”

As the store finds new items, she said, they will be added to the stock. She referred to the inventory at Bargain Mart as more of a “rolling inventory” since the items offered for sale will depend on the liquidated inventories purchased.

In deciding to open the store, Thomas, a Tazewell native, said she wanted to give back to the community and saw the new store as one opportunity to do so.  Initial projections call for the store to employ one full-time manager and 12 part-time employees. Within five years, that part-time number is projected to increase to 20.

Thomas worked with Margie Douglass, director of the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College in developing her business plan and the application to VCEDA for funding.

In addition to having a bricks and mortar storefront, Thomas noted Bargain Mart also offers online order fulfillment. Customers visiting can browse through inventory and order online using PayPal or a major credit card. The business is also on Facebook and posts inventory arrival announcements regularly.

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.  or

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.