BLUEFIELD, VA – NOVEMBER 17, 2021 – After working in the retail clothing sector for more than 20 years, Nancy Grant decided the time was right to venture out on her own and instead of working in retail for others, to own and operate her own store, Nancy’s Downtown Boutique.
Nancy’s Downtown Boutique, located on 532 Virginia Avenue in Bluefield, is a recent recipient of a $6,500 VCEDA seed capital grant.
“Working with area small business start-ups to help them grow and create additional jobs is a key focus of our seed capital matching grant program,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “Nancy’s Downtown Boutique projects two full time and two part-time employees within two years.”
From live feed fashion shows on the boutique Facebook page, to a future e-commerce website, Grant has pursued a number of ways to market the new business, which officially opened earlier this year in the space formerly occupied by Leslie Ann’s Boutique, which shut down at the end of 2020.
In January, Grant began remodeling the space, giving it a new look, updating it and achieving what she describes as a friendly, comfortable and welcoming vibe for customers of all ages.
Featured items carried in the store include ‘Just For You’ Jewelry, Spring Step Footwear, Germån Fuentes handbags, scarves and Women’s clothing (from XS to XXL sizes). Clothing lines in stock include those made by Azura, Boho Chic, Charlie B, Claire Desiardins, Clara Sun Woo, Exé, Flora & Ashley, Fun Sport, Germån Fuentes, Just For You, Kunky’s, L ‘artiste, Lyssé, Margaret Winters, Michael Tyler, Orly, Paparazzi, Parsley & Sage, Picadilly, Radzoli, Reneau, Soft Works, Spanx, Spring Step, Sympli, Thin Her Jeans and Umgee.
“Everything we carry is casual and has a good price point,” Grant said. “Customer service is the number one prerequisite in a small one-on-one service setting. Customers appreciate the service we provide.”
She noted that the VCEDA grant has been used primarily for inventory for the store.
“It was so helpful to us in every way,” Grant said of the seed capital grant. “It was a real shot in the arm, especially as fall approached and the need to select fall merchandise was on us. It gave us the ability to look at a few more clothing and accessory lines, which in turn helps us offer more to our customers at the store.”
Grant noted the store has a regular customer base which ranges in age from those in their upper teens and twenties to 70 and older.
Grant worked with the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) in the development of her application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority.
“The Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College was happy to provide Nancy Grant with guidance in applying for the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund program,” said Brittani Clarke Clayman, SBDC advisor. “Her previous retail experience and entrepreneurial spirit will prove most beneficial to her new women’s retail store, Nancy’s Downtown Boutique.
“By working with the SBDC (a requirement for any applicant of the Seed Capital Matching Fund), small business owners are better prepared to apply for funding and better equipped to make their business a success,” Clayman said. “When a small business owner works with the SBDC they receive guidance from experienced advisors and learn how to utilize available tools to evaluate their business and develop a formal plan of action.”
Nancy’s Downtown Boutique may be found on the web at www.nancysdowntownboutique.com or may also be found on Facebook. The store is open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.
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.