Local businesses battle for grand prize

By Katie Demeria

FRONT ROYAL — Five local business owners competed against each other to win the hearts — and votes — of a live audience.

Kelly Walker of The Studio: A Place for Learning took home the grand prize at the Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s second Entrepreneur Cafe at the Holiday Inn and Suites on Hospitality Drive on Tuesday night. Janet Michael of Java Media Concepts moderated the event.

Her prize included $500 in cash, membership to the chamber, an interview on the chamber’s radio show, a social media audit from Michael and $1,000 in advertising from the Northern Virginia Daily.

“I’m unbelievably excited,” Walker said. “We’ve been wanting to get the word out about the different classes we have, and it’s difficult for a small business to do that, so this is such a great opportunity.”

Chamber President Niki Foster pointed out the difficult task the audience would have in picking a winner — all five candidates, she said, had excellent ideas, and all would benefit from being part of the event.

“It’s not about the prizes, it’s about exposure,” Foster told the audience.

Walker’s competition included Donna Allanson of Donna Allanson Catering, Kendra Allanson of Kendra’s Cookies, Arlene Butler of 1000 Cranes 4 Peace, and Chris Wines, representing his invention “extra arms.”

Each competitor had five minutes to give a presentation, after which the audience participated in a five-minute question-and-answer session.

After each competitor took his or her turn, the audience voted on a winner.

During her presentation, Walker explained that The Studio is in need of a television that would assist learning.

The Studio operates as a teaching co-op. Walker uses the space to teach painting and allow others to teach a variety of classes, including sewing, photography or cookie demonstrations, among others. She opened the space at 105 East Main St. in August.

A television, Walker explained, would be a valuable asset.

“We have everything we need, but what we would really like to add is audio/visual equipment,” Walker told the audience. “A large, wi-fi television would be used to illustrate and make it easier for people to learn.”

While Walker, Donna Allanson and Kendra Allanson were requesting assistance with established businesses, Butler and Wines’ projects were not as conventional.

Butler started a project called 1000 Cranes 4 Peace, which is based on her travels around the world during which she distributed 1,000 origami cranes in an attempt to “spread joy.” She was requesting funds and advertising to publish a book about the project.

Wines is an inventor, and was requesting funds for a patent on his invention “extra arms,” a device that is draped behind the neck and makes carrying bags easier.

The night began with a speech from Miles Davis, dean of Shenandoah University’s Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business. His message reverberated throughout the evening, from both chamber of commerce representatives and the presenters.

“What you did got you to where you are, but it won’t advance you any further,” Davis told the audience. “If you want to play at a higher level, you are going to have to reinvent yourself and adapt to that new reality.”

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com