Success Story: Georgia. By Aaron Cox –
Cottle & Gunn in St. Marys, Georgia, closed its doors in April when the state’s shelter-in-place directives took effect. But the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop owner Deborah Cottle from doubling — then tripling — her sales from the previous spring, thanks to a creative outlook, a new online store, and some help from the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center.
Located just blocks away from the Florida state line to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, St. Marys is home to about 17,000 people. Cottle & Gunn sits in the middle of the coastal town’s historic district — a fitting location for an eclectic store specializing in reclaimed vintage furniture, housewares, local crafts and more.
While the store itself is small, its online presence is anything but. Since opening her doors in 2014, Cottle has built an online following that nearly matches the size of the town — with more than 15,000 combined followers on Facebook and Instagram.
So, when the pandemic hit and businesses began closing their doors, Cottle tapped into that social media network — and her longstanding relationship with the SBDC — to keep her sales going. (more…)