The Hancock County Chamber of Commerce Small Business Saturday and Market Days at the Lewisport Lions Community Center were a success this past weekend.
Joanne Shiver, who operates JJ’s Pizza in Lewisport, said it is important for local citizens to support small businesses, and even that businesses support one another.
“We have always gotten good support from the community,” she said. She said an area of concern is that the business has not seen the return of the large employers in the county soliciting catering services from local food service businesses following the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Some plants are going to Owensboro for catering,” Shiver said. “More than ever, it’s important that local businesses need to support one another. Our families work at these local businesses; we should always be prepared to support each other and be successful together.”
The business is also facing the challenges of increasing pricing for needed supplies, as well as difficulty in finding reliable workers.
“Our paper products have doubled in cost,” Shiver said. An 18-inch pizza box has increased to $2.65 each from 2020 to 2021, though Shiver is hesitant to pass those rising costs on to customers.
“We have not raised our prices,” she said. “I hate to push these increases to the community.” The business is also challenged by a lack of delivery drivers and in-house staff.
“It just feels like no one wants to work,” Shiver said.
She said large industries like Domtar and Century continue to be very supportive of the pizza shop, with large orders.
Shiver said it is not just paper products which have increased, but also that of the food stock the business prepares, especially chicken.
A number of businesses in Hancock County have ceased serving popular chicken wings due to shortages and high pricing. The USDA reported $2.329 per kilogram at the end of October compared to $1.501 a year ago, an increase of 55 percent. Frozen chicken wing inventory levels are at the lowest level since 2012, as many producers are pushing stock weight into the jumbo category before harvesting.
“It was a phenomenal day,” said Stephanie Lamar, Chamber of Commerce executive director. “There was not a space for a vendor left in the community center, and the crowd was excellent and ready to spend some money.”
Lamar said the Market Days event was especially popular with small business owners without a storefront. The market event was focused strongly on home-based and crafting businesses.
“They told us they had great sales,” Lamar said. “There were some vendors who had set up at a holiday show at the Owensboro Convention Center a week earlier, and had much better sales totals in Hancock County. Our vendors from outside Hancock County were impressed by the kindness and hospitality shown to them by our wonderful community.”
The annual observance of Small Business Saturday is each year after Thanksgiving, and focuses on locally-owned businesses throughout the United States and the United Kingdom.
Among the vendors for Market Day were:
- Madeline Sipes, A&B Florist, Hawesville – “Business is going well,” Sipes said. “I’ve been in business seven months and am happy with the progress so far. I feel very welcomed to the community.” She said it is turning out to be “a pretty good year,” and that most of her business comes from Hawesville and Lewisport. While funeral home sales are a part of her business, much of it comes from every day gifts, such as birthdays and anniversaries.
- Christine Ford, Christine’s Custom Creations, Ohio County – Ford specializes in hair bows, ornaments, woodwork, and t-shirts with her home-based business. It was her first craft show. She is the daughter of Karen and Stacy Smith of Hancock County.
- Wayne and Gay Estes, honey and freezer beef, Lewisport – The Esteses produces honey and freezer beef on-the-hoof at their farm in Tywhapity Bottoms on Highway 657 in Lewisport. The local honey is gathered from 30 hives the couple owns. “We did exceptionally well this year, and had good honey,” Gay said. “We sell out of our home, so when the sign is down, we are out of honey.” She expects stock to remain for the Christmas holiday. As well, the couple produces beef cattle. They are planning slaughter for January and February, and rates are $1.20 on-the-hoof, either whole or half. The stock is taken to the processor, and the customer chooses the cuts they desire. The customer pays processing fees. The phone number is 270-302-3556.
- Cindy Taylor, Paparazzi jewelry, Tell City – Taylor markets five-dollar jewelry through the nationally-known company. She also does personal shows, and the jewelry is lead- and nickel-free. She can be reached at 812-719-1037.
- Sierra Roberts, Splendor jewelry, Lewisport – Roberts produces custom jewelry, and can be found on Facebook and Instagram. She can be reached by phone at 270-231-7570.
- Terry DeRossitt, Just Bear-ly Crafty, Owensboro – A producer of vintage silverware jewelry, DeRossitt also produces reusable coloring dolls, Elf On The Shelf clothes, coasters, keychains, and bookmarks in her home-based business. She can be reached by phone at 270-316-6584.