COLUMN: Support small business

Published 12:06 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2023

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By Karl Heck

Small Business Saturday is coming up on Nov. 25, and the annual national event is a key reminder of the importance of small businesses in our community.

The national event, sponsored by American Express since 2011, brings over $17 billion in spending to America’s small businesses on Small Business Saturday.  As the allure of “Black Friday” has steadily faded over time due to the similarity of goods and the rise of Internet-based retailers for those types of products, Small Business Saturday has grown in popularity as it provides an opportunity to highlight those merchants and service providers in our local communities.  

While you can buy a laptop or cellphone from many different websites with similar prices and lack of service, Virginia peanuts, local clothing and crafts, hand-crafted wood products and other local specialties are available here, and only here, from local merchants who provide service and advice as well as just the sale. This year, 27 Franklin Southampton businesses are participating in the advertising campaign that FSEDI created for the event, and several additional businesses are involved with Small Business Saturday through the website under the FSEDI Neighborhood Champion website.

In recent years, several local businesses, including The Hubs Vine, Feridies and Belmont Peanuts, have built stronger retail and restaurant arms to enhance their production capacity. This growth means more jobs and commerce here locally, as well as opportunities to attract more tourists to our area. Over 20,000 vehicles a day travel through Franklin Southampton on US-58. An average of 11,000 more vehicles per day travel through Southampton County on US-460, based on VDOT traffic data. Those vehicles represent potential purchasing opportunities and people who could be our newest visitors and customers. The new home developments from D.R. Horton and other builders also bring new residents with money to spend and support our local businesses.

Along with retail businesses formed in the past year, including Knotted Thistle in Courtland, and Grit and Grace Beauty and Garage Club in Franklin, 2023 has also brought the re-opening of the Southampton Motor Speedway after almost two decades, and the revival of the former Valley Proteins site near Emporia. New businesses, along with existing growth at companies like Hampton Farms and Southern Charm Garden Center, show that the Franklin Southampton area is attractive and growing.

We urge you to support Small Business Saturday, and continue your support forward through the Christmas season and into the New Year! Please check out our sites, and, for more information on how to keep your dollars local and Franklin Southampton growing!

KARL HECK is the president and CEO of Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc. He can be reached at or 757-562-1958.