Shepherdstown Shares awards $13,000 in gifts to local businesses
SHEPHERDSTOWN — On Sunday morning, a group of Shepherdstown Shares board members, volunteers and supporters gathered in front of the War Memorial Building to hold a small ceremony and raffle drawing.
The event, according to Shepherdstown Shares board member Mark Kohut, was the nonprofit organization’s second effort to help support Shepherdstown’s small businesses. It was also held in conjunction with the organization’s one-year anniversary.
“At our last board meeting a Wednesday ago, we realized that the community has been quite generous,” Kohut said. “We thought we had money that we should dispense in a smart way for the people in the community.”
The total amount of money the organization decided to give away was $13,000, divided evenly among 13 local businesses. Three of those businesses — Lellybelle Community Cafe, On Wings of Dreams and Hive House Apiaries — were automatically selected to receive the gifts, due to their support of the community throughout the last year of the pandemic. The businesses receiving the remaining 10 unrestricted gifts won through a raffle drawing from a hat, conducted by Brother Tim and Sister Didi. The 10 winning businesses were Creative Procrastinations and Whimsical Necessities, Betty’s Restaurant, Off Mane Street salon, Dickinson & Wait Craft Gallery, Honor D Fine Shoes & Hats, Mecklenburg Inn, Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery, Mountaineer Popcorn, German Street Tattoo and Grapes & Grain Gourmet.
“We thought that the businesses in Shepherdstown have been hurting,” Kohut said. “With businesses, you need foot traffic, you need to be able to sit down and eat for restaurants, you need customers who come in — like for the barbers and hair salons.
“One of us on the board mentioned that there were three businesses which have helped Shares help people when we have nothing — no pantry, nothing — and if we’re going to have a lottery, they should be exempted from it. They should be rewarded for their service,” Kohut said. “We’d like to give it to every business in town, but of course, we couldn’t.”
According to Kohut, Lellybelle Community Cafe’s owner, Jay Thomas, offered free meals to people in need and created a food pantry in his restaurant, months before Shepherdstown Shares was able to open its food pantry in the Trinity Episcopal Church chapel. On Wings of Dreams owner Laura Rau has been buying homemade masks at full price, selling them in her store and donating the entire proceeds to Shepherdstown Shares throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. Jason Murphy, who recently opened Hive House Apiaries on Princess Street, donated half his personal honey sales from October through December to Shepherdstown Shares, and also has helped the organization deliver food to those in need.
In her brief remarks during the ceremony on Sunday morning, Shepherdstown Shares President Marianne Davis stressed the need to take bold and significant action to assist both people and businesses in Shepherdstown hurt by the pandemic.
“This is our mission,” Davis said.
For the 13 business owners who received the gifts, the gifts’ impact has already been felt.
“It was such a wonderful surprise! It made my day,” said Creative Procrastinations and Whimsical Necessities owner Emma Casale, mentioning she’ll likely use the money to repair her car, which she couldn’t afford to do after the pandemic led to a loss in business for her. “I travel a lot for my business to find things elsewhere, and my car’s not in very good shape. This money means I can take it to a mechanic and have it on the road a lot sooner than I had planned.”