City business owners react to Foxwell’s remarks

Published 10:24 am Saturday, August 4, 2018

Adam Foxwell, owner of the formerly downtown Franklin-based computer, tablet and smartphone retail and repair business Gray Fox Electronics, made this statement Thursday when asked about why he chose to relocate the business to Suffolk in early July:

“To be quite honest, the town feels like it’s dying, it’s been that way since September according to the numbers. The only companies that are kind of making it there are folks that cater to a lower financial demographic.”

However, not every Franklin business owner agrees that the city is a dying community for small businesses.

“I think his assessment of downtown and Franklin as a whole are very off base,” said Mike Smith, owner of The Main Event, located at 110 N. Main St. “If you look at the occupancy today [of downtown buildings], it’s at 97 percent. There’s hardly anything available for rent.”

Smith also disagreed that the businesses doing well in the city were ones that catered to a low-income demographic, arguing that several stores in the downtown area were high-end boutiques.

Juanita Richards, owner of Richwood Graphics, agreed with Smith that Foxwell’s comments were mistaken.

“I could not disagree any more with [what he said,]” she said. “Business has been very good for us. Our main business is business-to-business. Probably 90 percent of our business comes from other businesses. It’s not all in Franklin, but the majority is. My customers who have opened up stores in downtown Franklin are doing very well. I’m sorry that Adam’s business was not. I like Adam, he’s a good guy, but I disagree with him.”

She, like Smith, also disagreed that the businesses downtown catered to low-income people.

Billy Smith, owner of Smith Jewelers on East Second Avenue, said he knew that Foxwell had been struggling, but added that his own business had been up about 15 percent since last October.

“We’ve done a lot to merchandise the store, we’ve remodeled,” Smith said. “The one thing we’ve got as small-business people is we can pivot on a dime. If you need to cater to a different clientele, that’s what you do.”

Smith added that he had introduced two to three new lines of jewelry within the past year that have done extremely well.

Shaqunia Clark, owner of Pretty Brown Girls Salon & Spa, also felt that her business had been good.

Kevin Bowman, owner of Franklin Floor to Ceiling, and Portia Everett, owner of Unique Unlimited Inc., however, both felt that business had been slow. Bowman said that his business had started to pick up recently, but that he had felt things were slow for the past couple of years. Everett has only been at her location on Main Street for a year, having previously had a storefront on South Street.

Warren Myers, owner of Liberty Coin, said that his business has been alternating lately between good and bad months, but said yearly sales to date were average.

“July was good,” he said.

Katrina Manley, owner of Spoken Interior Homes, an interior design business on Main Street, said that she felt her business had been “pretty good,” adding that she was still in her first year of operation.

Wydia Bailey, owner of Franklin’s Seafood & Steakhouse, said her business had been “very good” since opening last year. She added that in about two weeks, the restaurant would be undergoing an interior renovation, with Spoken Interiors retained as a consultant.

Steven Dail, store manager at Dail’s True Value, said that for the year, business has been going very well, and that sales were on track with last year. The rain Franklin has been seeing lately has slowed up his business, he added, but said that overall he was not disappointed.