Representatives with the U.S. Government made stops at four small, local businesses in Ripley on Monday to acknowledge their participation in Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is an American shopping holiday held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving during one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. This Saturday is always the last one in November and can fall between Nov. 24 and Nov. 30. For 2018, it is being celebrated on Saturday, Nov. 24.

Michelle Christian, the Small Business Administration (SBA) regional administrator for the Mid-Atlantic Region, presented certificates of participation to SwifTees, Faithful & Free, 218 Boutique, and RipCity Fitness.

SwifTees was the first stop on the local business tour. Owners, Shandy and Kelly Broom, started their small business in 2008 in their 500-square-foot garage. As word of mouth began to spread, they quickly grew and had to expand.

Specializing in quality custom apparel, they are an all-in-one design and print shop, catering to local customers as well as larger clients, such as Amazon.

“We create items for the local area and have also shipped orders as far away as England and Italy,” Broom said.

The Brooms have their own graphic artist on-site who is part of their 10-person staff. All employees are local and a co-op student from Ripley High School is also included on the team.

“I feel we have good workers right here in Jackson County,” Broom said.

Since the start of their business, they have grown from a 500 square foot space to their now 3,200-square-foot shop located at 2998 Charleston Road, Suite 11, in Ripley. For more information, check them out on Facebook at SwifTees.

The second stop on the small business tour was Faithful & Free located at 113 South Court St. in Ripley. The store is family owned and operated by Missy Hatcher since July 2017.

Specializing in apparel, they are the largest retailer of Simply Southern in the area. Simply Southern is the leading producer of Charming T-shirts and innovative gift products. Other brands they carry are Miss Me, Monkey Ride, and YMI Jeans.

With the assistance of her daughters, Brittney, Brooke, Olivia, and Erica, Hatcher maintains both her Ripley and Point Pleasant locations.

“My favorite part of working in a family business is getting to pick out the products and help make decisions on what we want to sell in the store,” Hatcher’s daughter Brittney said.

Faithful & Free recently received the title of 2018 Main Street’s Best New Business of the Year. With the business doing so well, Hatcher hopes to expand in 2019. For more information, check them out on Facebook at Faithful and Free.

The third stop on the tour was the 218 Boutique, located at 218 Main Street West in Ripley. Opened in Nov. 2012 by owner April Showen, this little boutique is a curated collection of fashion that is wearable, modern, and affordable.

Also specializing in apparel, Showen’s small business focuses on fashion and styling her clients in what makes them feel good. She is able to provide them with one-on-one attention making sure their fit and style needs are met from top to bottom.

“It was always a dream of mine to work in fashion,” Showen said. “I like to be able to provide my clients with a fashion forward option and design suited specifically for them.”

With business going well at both locations in Ripley and Point Pleasant, Showen is hoping to open another boutique in Charleston in spring 2019. Additional information is available on Facebook under Two Eighteen.

The fourth and final stop of the small business tour was RipCity Fitness. RipCity Fitness is located at 100 Fitness Drive in Ripley.

New owners, Barry Stover and Max Knapp, have renovated the building, formerly known as Community Fitness, and are focusing on the health of the people of Jackson County.

In Oct. 2017 they opened the gym under the current name and began offering a wide variety of programs and classes to suit everyone. With close to 400 clients who are able to work out on many types of equipment including a track on the second level for walking, the gym is an important asset to the county.

“We work with the local hospital and try to help people get healthier, whether it’s assisting them in losing weight or regaining strength,” Knapp said. “It’s all about making the communtiy better.”

U.S. Officials and representatives in attendance included Michelle Christian, Karen Friel, SBA District Director, Nikki Bomar, SBA Public Affairs Specialist, Debra Martin, SBDC Interim Director, Marsa Myers, SBDC Business Coordinator, David Alan Gilpin, Field Service Representative with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office, Susie Azevedo, District Representative with the office of Congressman Alex X. Mooney, Richard Frazier, Field Representative with the office of Shelley Moore Capito, Brian Aluise, Regional Coordinator for Senator Joe Manchin III, and Jillian Bright, Executive Director of Main Street Ripley, along with Metro News, and WOWK 13 News.

“Small businesses are an important part of any community,” Christian stated. “So remember Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24, shop local, and help keep small businesses alive and well in your community.”