Anika Banerjee ’24 (she/her)
As COVID-19 swept the nation, people were quarantining and isolating themselves, leaving their houses only for the necessities. This created a great amount of difficulty for those who were looking to create businesses. Davidson’s Main Street, however, has been a prime location for a number of new businesses to flourish.
Davidson Provision Co., which is owned and founded by Matt Santos, is located at 116 S. Main St and sells various outdoor goods, from hiking gear to outdoor scented candles. Vishal Makkar is the owner of Masala Mastee, an Indian street food restaurant on 107 N. Main St. that brings some flavors of India to the Davidson community. Next door to Masala Mastee is another new business, Your Mom’s Bazaar. Courtney Buckley, the creator of Your Mom’s Bazaar, is also the owner of Your Mom’s Donuts in Davidson.
With a large student body right across the street, the shops on Main Street function as a great hub for students to eat and shop at. Along with the students, Davidson has a very tight-knit community which contributes to the success of these new businesses. In addition to the convenience of the location, the support and generosity of the community was a large factor in why these businesses chose Davidson to open their doors.
For Santos, Main Street was the dream location. “I was a corporate refugee, I worked in the corporate world for nearly 25 years. One day we did this exercise in corporate, and they asked you in the workshop to imagine the definition of success and who it is that you see,” he stated. “A lot of people chose millionaires, and successful entrepreneurs, and for whatever reason, I chose Summit Coffee.”
Santos chose Summit because he admired the concept of a family-owned business that was involved in their community. Santos began to develop a dream of owning a business in Davidson where the community encouraged them and he could give back. Similar to Santos, Makkar also wanted a community like Davidson for his family-owned business.
“We want to fit into the community, we want to be a store that listens but also offers more than just products. The community requires more than that,” said Santos.
In such a difficult time, Makkar and Santos used the Davidson community as their mode to success by listening and altering themselves to fit the town’s needs. Santos recalled the pain of opening a store just to have to turn people away at the door because the volume of people was violating CDC guidelines. Makkar seconded Santos’s feelings.
“We hoped to have more people fill the space, but the pandemic has definitely curbed our ability to seat that many people in the store and have the restaurant feel we were hoping for,” said Makkar. “However, we are seeing changes in that as more people are getting vaccinated; we are getting closer to what we had previously imagined.”
Santos realized that in order to open their business in a time where face-to-face communication isn’t possible, creativity is crucial.
“We let our business be community curated, so we made a giant sign with a QR code that said ‘please give us your feedback,’” said Santos. “We really wanted to be a community retailer, and we felt that the right way to do it was instead of telling the community what they need, we wanted to ask them what they want.”
Both Santos and Makkar agree that one of the benefits to a small community and being a family-owned business is being able to listen and alter what you’re selling accordingly.
There are numerous ways to give back to the community, one of which is student discounts. Makkar says that, “For [Davidson] students and all faculty, we offer 10% discounts.” However, Davidson Provision Co. is working towards being able to give student discounts. They are fresh out of the gates of being a new business and are currently in the process of trying to figure out loyalty programs that will allow them to provide the students with discounts.
At this time, similar to Davidson Provision Co., student discounts are a process that both Santos and Buckley are trying to work out as soon as possible. However, there are multiple ways to give back to the community other than discounts, one of which is supporting “as many other small businesses as possible,” says Buckley, describing one of her business goals.
As Your Mom’s Donuts continues to expand beyond North Carolina, Buckley wanted to create the Bazaar to support her community and get their products out there. With an emphasis on kitchen materials, the Bazaar sells local meats, Your Mom’s donuts, breads, jams and jellies, mini heirloom rugs, pottery, hand turned wooden bowls from local makers, and more! Buckley deeply values being a family-owned business, and understands the financial struggles that accompany that.
Santos has made the effort to try and give local musicians from the town and Davidson College a voice by using his store as their platform. “We had a student from Davidson College, Woody Moore [‘21], who plays guitar, play inside of the store. We have a Davidson alumna working at the store, and so we are trying to offer services to people in the community,” said Santos.
Davidson Provision Co. also sells products from those who live in Davidson so that they can have the opportunity to to sell their goods out of a store because they understand how difficult it is to gain traction as an online entrepreneur.
These businesses have persisted through the difficulties created by the pandemic, while learning how to adjust to not only succeed financially but to incorporate the community into their daily operations.
“We found a spot on Main Street, and opening our store here was a no brainer,” said Buckley. “The community is supporting a family dream.”