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Downtown adding business
ap MLK biz pic
Vivian Smith fixes a tote bag display in $20 and Below Accessories on MLK Jr. Drive. - photo by Photo by Alena Parker.
Downtown Hinesville is attracting new business, just as new city signs identifying the business district advertise.
Vivian Smith says her new store, $20 and Below Accessories, will offer luxury items at discounted prices. She plans to open the store on MLK Jr. Drive at the end of the month.
Smith said inspiration for the store hit her during a visit to Atlanta about a year ago. Later, she saw another discount accessory store in Savannah.
“I wasn’t looking to buy anything,” Smith said. “Initially, what caught my eye was the sign ‘$20 and below,’ and when I went in there, I was surprised.”
Smith said she wanted to open a store in Liberty County that replicated the upscale look of the other stores  and offered good deals.
“Instead of always having to go to Savannah, provide something here locally,” said Smith, who has lived in the Hinesville area for 15 years. “If there’s more things here, I find that people would stay here.”
Touting merchandise shipped from New York, Philadelphia and even China, Smith said she plans to offer shoppers a variety of quality, elegant pieces at low costs.
“It’ll definitely be different,” Smith said. “You won’t be able to go to Wal-Mart or any other store and see the same kind of stuff.”
The store’s products will include shoes, jewelry, casual dresses, totes and luggage bags. She also hopes to sell some men’s items, such as theme ties and cuff links.
“We just want to offer excellent customer service, affordable prices, quality accessories,” Smith said.
She tried to get a feel for Hinesville’s downtown business environment by joining the Army Community Heritage Partnership Program.
“ACHPP has really helped me and I can see it helps other people,” Smith said. “I think it really helps focus on what’s really needed.”
Vicki Davis, Hinesville Downtown Development Authority director, said she wants to continue the effort to revitalize downtown.
“Retail business is certainly a welcome addition to the downtown scene,” Davis said. “The $20 and Below store will certainly be a great catalyst to encourage other retail businesses to consider downtown for their business ventures.”  
Smith completed all the permitting and licensing requirements and will now focus on stocking shelves and decorating the store.
“I’ve always wanted to do a small business on my own. … It’s a learning experience,” Smith said. “I’ve had so many people help through the process.”
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