Launch Gloucester announces winners

CBL GloucesterA bakery and cafe, a business catering to pets and pet owners and a massage and wellness clinic will be the newest businesses to open or expand on Main Street following Tuesday night’s Launch Gloucester awards ceremony.

Participants in the entrepreneur contest that launched earlier this year also got a surprise element when the Cook Foundation granted a $5,000 award to the sole business in the competition with an arts component.

The three winners, and the fourth that won the Cook Foundation prize, were among 10 businesses whittled down from an original field that exceeded 40 when Launch Gloucester got under way last year. The entrepreneurs vied for a combined value of $95,000 in goods, services and start-up capital to launch a business on Main Street.

The businesses are on a schedule to open in September, although at least one tandem of business owners said they will be ready to open sooner.

The Launch Gloucester program was one of three in the state that are part of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia Community Business Launch initiative. The Launch Gloucester program is overseen by the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust and Gloucester Main Street Association.

Crystal Burton secured a first-place prize valued at more than $48,000. This includes $20,000 in capital, $1,800 in rent and utility abatement and a marketing and communications package worth $19,000. In addition, Burton will receive a 60-second commercial and a grand opening party.

Burton operates the Sweet Tooth Parlor in the current Wild Rabbit Cafe and plans to expand her business into a full bakery and cafe. Specializing in vegetarian, gluten free, low carb and healthy choices, Burton said she will have something for everyone.

Burton plans to take a farm-to-table approach and buy goods locally, such as eggs, fruits and vegetables, and use them in her recipes. She not only wants to make her meals as fresh as possible, but also wants to support local farmers in the area.

Her café menu will include items such as sourdough bread bowls, seasonal soups, sandwiches and customizable salads, all made from scratch. Burton will also offer a boxed lunch service with free delivery to Main Street businesses.

Karin Fary won the second-place prize valued at more than $30,000, which includes $10,000 in capital, $1,200 in rent and utility abatement and a marketing and communications package valued at $13,000. Fary will open a business offering stylish clothing, accessories, collars and leashes for pets called “The Nines Pet Boutique and Photography.” The business will offer pet photography and several products such as grooming supplies, organic treats and cat and dog products.

Jill Reece and Ginger Platsis were the third-place winners for their business to be called “Essential Wellness and Bodywork.” Reece and Platsis are already operating just off of Main Street but will be moving onto Main Street. Their prize is valued at more than $18,000 and includes $5,000 in capital, $600 in rent and utility abatement and a marketing and communications package valued at more than $9,000. Reece and Platsis intend to touch lives from the inside out, offering massage and holistic wellness services. Platsis said she was happy and amazed they won. Reece said they intend to open before September.

In addition to the awards, each winner will receive one-year memberships to the Gloucester Main Street Association, business resources and continued education from Margie Johnson of ShopTalk, who coordinated the eight weeks of business classes for the Launch Gloucester group. The winners will also receive priority status with the Gloucester Revolving Loan Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

George Cramer, operating “The Village Blacksmith,” received a $5,000 prize from the Cook Foundation  for a business with an arts element. Cramer’s business will provide custom metal work, blacksmithing, bladesmithing, reproduction, restoration, repair, welding, fabrication training and consulting on low- to high-end custom metal work.

Jenny Crittenden, Executive Director of Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust, said the new businesses will help make Gloucester Village a destination to live, work, and play while increasing economic activity.

For more information about the Launch Gloucester program, and to learn more about the entrepreneur training they participated in for eight weeks, the judges who heard the business plans and ideas and the event’s partners, visit www.LaunchGloucester.com.

For more information about the Community Business Launch, visit www.dhcd.virginia.gov.

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