Retailers ensure residents have everything they want and need.
The Robins Region’s retail scene is a fun mix of locally owned, innovative businesses and national brands, making it a great place for retail therapy and stocking up on essentials. What people buy and what businesses they support give a snapshot of a community’s collective values, and continued support for local retailers during difficult economic times has also spoken volumes.
Adapting to Serve Customers
Annie Kilko opened her Southern Crush Boutique in 2019 at 660 Joy Lake Road in Kathleen. She says she opened the business on a leap of faith after working in another industry for more than two decades.
“It’s been really nice to be able to be part of the community and to be able to help women,â€ she says. “The whole mission is to have women feel as gorgeous on the outside as they do on the inside and knowing and understanding their worth.”
Clothes are a means to that end, and Kilko has a selection of clothing, shoes and accessories that appeals to teens and their moms alike. The storefront is one way she reaches customers. Kilko launched an online store this spring, which helped her adapt to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19.
“When the pandemic happened, I had just started working with a company to design a new website,â€ she explains. “So we did a lot of Facebook Live broadcasts to keep things interesting. I think my customers looked forward to that. It was an easy way for them to shop.”
Connecting People With Food
Just as Southern Crush’s customers look to Kilko for fashion advice, The Butcher Shop’s Amy Dean is an expert in her own right. Husband and wife team Amy and David Dean run a successful fine meats and catering business in Warner Robins. They assumed ownership about six years ago and moved into their current location at 1057 Highway 96 about two years ago.
Amy says the business caters to customers who are looking for a quality alternative to standard supermarket delis.
The price point is more expensive, but she says you can truly taste the difference.
Speaking of taste, Amy says she feels grateful to be in the business, because it’s a way to help folks connect on a deeper level.
“In my opinion, food draws people together,â€ she says. “When you get ready to have a get-together, the first thing people want to know is who’s bringing what. Because food is such a big part of our social lives. And so being able to talk to customers, give them options and help them build confidence in their abilities at home is very rewarding.”
You’ll Find It in a Book
Food may feed bellies, while books are fodder for minds, and Gottwals Books offers such an invitation. Gottwals Books was founded in 2007 by Shane & Abbey Gottwals as a used and new bookstore, carrying a wide range of genres for all age groups and interests. Since its founding, the original location in Warner Robins has moved to a much larger building and three other stores have opened in the Middle Georgia area.
This growth is no coincidence but a result of being intentional over the years.
“Our goal is to provide a great selection of used and new books with fair prices, an incredible array of special-order options and fantastic value for trade credit (for used books) and cash purchases (for college textbooks),â€ says Rebekah George, who handles operations. “We are also a LifeWay authorized dealer with plenty of church supplies and Christian products. And our Warner Robins store is stocked with a wide range of teacher resources.”
It’s also a hub of reading and learning-centered activity, if you ask George. Under normal circumstances, they host book clubs and group readings for children. In her words, “any bookstore helps to raise up readers … it’s a place to bring your children to read and to play while you maybe grab a few books for yourself.”
Major Mall Renovations
Houston County Galleria can provide an escape of a different type. The shopping center features specialty and national retailers, including Belk, JCPenney, American Eagle Outfitters, Finish Line, Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, Shoe Dept., The Galleria 15 Cinemas and other stores.
Dinah Yllander, administrative assistant at Houston County Galleria, says improvements made last year only add to its appeal.
“We made improvements to enhance the customer experience with a focus on the exterior main entrances and interior common areas,â€ she explains. “The renovation included fresh paint to interior surfaces, two new seating Wi-Fi lounges, a new kids’ play pod and new interior lighting, completed in November 2019.”
If you’d like to learn more about the Robins Region area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Robins Region.