Local small businesses make prom special

This week is National Small Business Week.

It is natural to honor the contributions of the men and women in our community who had the courage and pioneer spirit to invest their life — and their financial future — in a dream. It is impossible to miss our small businesses. They are all around us in Owensboro. The majority of our membership is considered small. But each day, we see those men and women doing big things for our economy and for the local community.

Prom season has been a unique opportunity to see some of our small business members demonstrate the outpouring of love for their customers and the spirit of giving in Greater Owensboro.

The Crowne recently relaunched to include women’s formal wear and accessories. They provide the total experience of making each customer feel like a princess or a queen (depending on the age of the tiara). We learned by accident of an act of kindness that they repeatedly do for their customers.

We women at some time in our lives have probably experienced self-consciousness about our appearance. Even though it is common, it still isn’t easy. The teen years are often very difficult when it comes to body perception. The Crowne understood this and decided to help their customers address that unease. For customers who do not feel comfortable trying on and modeling their dresses in front of others, the Crowne would actually meet at nights and on Sundays so these young women could feel pretty without a crowd of other customers. It was touching. The empathy to understand this issue and the outpouring of personal time when the workweeks never end is truly serving from the heart. That is small business.

My youngest child is a senior this year, so this will be our last prom. In Nicholas form, he announced early on he was going “Han Style.” For non-Star Wars fans, that means he was going “Solo” along with a large group of friends. Since he did not have a date to tell him what to wear, he leaned on David Epling at the Earle, who stopped everything he was doing to meet with Nicholas and plan his attire. At midnight the night before prom, he announced that he would need to take his socks to David to make sure they were okay. He did, and David took care of him. That is just what small business owners do. They treat their customers like family.

Nicholas’ non-date prom night included a dinner with 75 other classmates. The Bluegrass Scholars at Owensboro High School put together a prom meal, along with much help from First Christian Church (FCC). The dinner hosted English Language Learners, most of whom were refugees and other OHS students. Small businesses made the delicious dinner possible, local Harold’s Cleaners suited the young men and Cinderella’s Closet dressed the girls.

The joy and excitement at FCC was palpable. These teens came together from all walks of life but they were united by a right of passage for American teenagers and by the fact that they all call Owensboro, Kentucky home.

It was a witness to the goodness in people. That same goodness is the hallmark of Owensboro small business owners.

By Candance Brake President and CEO, Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce