South Hill florist finds new growth with SBDC

Business is growing in more ways than one at Gavin’s House of Flowers in South Hill.

Despite a year filled with pandemic challenges, owner Gavin Honeycutt netted a ten percent increase in business in 2020. For that, he credits the Longwood Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

“Last year was a hard year,” Honeycutt said. “After the pandemic shut everything down, I found myself losing interest — I was in a rut.”

A year of cancellations, floral business plummeted in 2020.

“I was beginning to lose my enthusiasm for a business I love,” Honeycutt added. “I was losing my spark for creativity.”

Fortunately, Katherine Beale was there to help. Beale is one of three specialized consultants SBDC added to help small business owners meet the challenges of COVID-19.

Beale, a Longwood University alumna and retail specialist, previously worked for a variety of retail and financial firms including Saks Fifth Avenue and JP Morgan Chase.

“Katherine Beale held a meeting in South Hill about the time the pandemic started,” Honeycutt recalled. “I decided to call her one afternoon and ask her to come by and talk with me.”

That meeting, as Honeycutt put it, started the ball rolling.

Beale immediately tossed that ball into Honeycutt’s court.

“Katherine wanted me to take my business online,” Honeycutt said. “I knew business was moving that way, but I also know I am not a computer person.”

Undeterred, Beale connected Honeycutt with a computer expert who helped him learn how to improve his marketing reach with Facebook Live.

“Katherine showed me how to keep our marketing current, savvy and interesting,” Honeycutt added. “After I started working with Katherine and the resources she provided, my phone started to ring again.”

That ringing phone marked the sound of success for Gavin’s House of Flowers.

“My creative side was rejuvenated,” Honeycutt said. “I was ready to try new things.

The first new thing for Gavin’s House of Flowers was a complete renovation of the 1898 Victorian style two-story house that’s been home to the business for the past 23 years.

“We painted inside, put in all new lighting and refinished the original hardwood floors,” Honeycutt related. “A spring open house was held in March to showcase some of the things we have to offer in home décor, accent pieces and boutique clothing.”

Going forward, Honeycutt plans to keep SBDC involved in his business.

“Katherine Beale believed in me at a time when I didn’t believe in myself,” Honeycutt concluded. “Because of SBDC, I have a new vision for the future. Thanks to SBDC, that future is already happening!”

As a small business resource for more than 30 years, the Longwood SBDC’s core mission is to provide education, consulting, and economic research to support potential and existing small business owners throughout Southern Virginia. Longwood SBDC works with local sponsors to provide consulting services free of charge. For more information, visit www.sbdc-longwood.com