Downtown celebrates trio of openings

Published 2:42 pm Saturday, September 23, 2017

The months and even years of dreaming, planning, saving and organizing were realized on Wednesday afternoon when three new businesses celebrated their grand openings in Downtown Franklin.

The first stop for cutting ribbons was TaylorMade Fitness on Jackson Street, which has been established by La’Kenneth Kindred. When he received the $20,000 StartUp money this past mid-June, Kindred said he had been thinking about an idea for a fitness center for 10 years, and began more actively working on it since May 2016.

Mayor Rabil first spoke at the start, saying what a wonderful day it was to have three new businesses open. He congratulated Kindred for re-purposing the building, which is across from the post office.

“We need to have more of this [new businesses] in Downtown,” Rabil added.

For his part, Kindred thanked his Lord and said that his grandmother, Ophelia Taylor, gets the credit for inspiring him. He also thanked the city for trusting him.

The Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc. had launched the StartUp campaign earlier this year, inviting prospective new entrepreneurs to apply for money to make their business dreams a reality. The money came from the Virginia Department of Housing Community Business Launch. The funds could only be used for operating expenses, renovations, equipment rental, utilities, inventory and marketing.

After a brief reception, the party moved — appropriately enough — to The Main Event, a banquet and meeting site facility. This was created by Lauren Davis and Mike Smith, who got $10,000 for their plan. The building is the site of a former hardware store, Steinhardt, and there’s even a corner devoted to memorabilia.

Smith thanked all involved, adding that it’s taken over a year in development to get where he and Davis are now.

“It’s a labor of love,” Smith added.

Then the ceremony for Franklin Seafood and Steak followed. This business is the site of the former Parker Drugstore. Wydia Bailey also got $10,000 for her venture, which she had begun putting together her plan 1 and ½ years ago.