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Starting a business in hard economy
New center provides retail options
0925 Biz center
Jim Blake’s new shopping center is on Highway 119 in Walthourville. - photo by Photo by Jen Alexander McCall
Jim Blake’s shopping center is a family affair that combines retail know-how with an entrepreneurial flair to bring new options to shoppers between Walthourville and the edge of Hinesville.
J & S Beauty anchors the four-store strip on Highway 119 just inside Walthourville’s city limits, and it joins Nam General and Sun Convenience stores. A gift, novelty and party supply shop is slated to open before Thanksgiving, Blake said.
Blake owns the property and the building, and together with his wife, Nam Sun, and her son Patrick Transue, he welcomes customers seeking anything from a quick snack or a dozen eggs to the trendiest hair accessories, handbags and household necessities.
To his knowledge, much of what Blake’s businesses offer can’t be found in the immediate area, and that also should prove to be a draw.
“We’ll change our products [according to] what the customer wants,” he said.
Blake admits that starting a business is much easier when the structure is already available, but the benefits of literally building one’s own venture include outright ownership of the property.
He advises other entrepreneurs who want to take the same path to do their homework before diving in; plenty of surprises are sure to follow that first step.
“When you’re building, nothing is easy, that’s for sure,” Blake said. “Be sure to research your general contractors. They are responsible for everything — for hiring subcontractors and giving them authorization to purchase [construction] materials.”
Impact fees are another part of starting a business in the area that Blake said require preparation, or at least some knowledge beforehand. These include impact fees like deposits on power meters, sewer hook-up fees and phone installation, as well as landscaping bonds that are required by Liberty County.
The strip is the second business venture for Blake, who added that his wife has worked in the beauty supply business for several years.
Blake is confident his ventures will pay off, especially since Highway 119 is scheduled for an eventual expansion into a four-lane roadway. More than that, he feels what he has to sell, people will buy.
“People come out here for the convenience and the prices,” Blake said. “That’s what gives us our return customers.”

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