July/August 2015 Entrepreneur Focus
This hobby followed Regina into adulthood, and she began to collect and furnish her home with antiques. Around 1995, while working full time, she decided to begin selling antiques, renting a lot in Griffin’s Dovedown Antique Mall. Any time she had a spare moment, she would come down and tinker with her space. Within a few years, her hobby had grown into a passion, and she was taking care of multiple lots full of antiques. When the Brinson family moved their business from Dovedown Antique Mall to The Antique Griffin’s current location on Taylor Street, so did Regina.
When the Brinsons were ready to retire in 2012, they approached her about taking over the lease for The Antique Griffin. Regina and her husband agreed that this was the right opportunity for her to go into the antiques business full time.
The business was renamed Gigi’s Antique Griffin, and Regina has since added considerably to the offerings of her antique mall. It’s still a great place to browse antiques of all kinds, and there is a restoration area in the back. Regina hosts several parties throughout the year that are open to the public. Even on regular weekends, she provides refreshments like lemonade and cookies for her customers.
Regina loves her Taylor Street location. The building is set up, as she describes it, to be a “cozy maze of nooks and crannies,” and its central location has helped it become a vibrant Griffin institution. Regina loves hosting curious out-of-towners who see the Shannon Lake artwork on the building and stop in for a look. One of Regina’s antique plates showing a horse and rider jumping a fence was the inspiration for Lake’s mural.
After all of her work, Gigi’s Antique Griffin has become more than an antique store. “I’m always trying to push it up a notch,” she says. “I want the store to have something for everybody.” Gigi’s now offers a vast selection of gift items and even has sections for wedding gifts, clothing, and décor. With about 60 dealers showcasing their unique finds, there is always something new to see at Gigi’s Antique Griffin.
113 East Taylor Street
Griffin, GA, 30223
Larry Maxwell’s passion for locksmithing was ignited during his time as an electronics technician for the Griffin-Spalding County School System. A coworker brought Larry a padlock and asked if he had ever picked a lock before. Larry said no, then watched as his coworker fiddled with the lock and two small tools. Within a minute, the lock popped open, and something clicked within Larry. He was in awe of the power and simplicity in those tools. Larry worked for about an hour with the lock and tools before he, too, was able to open the lock. “All of a sudden the lock popped open,” said Larry, “and when it did it just set me on fire. I had to become a locksmith.”
In 2003, he began Larry’s Lock and Key, a full six years before he retired from the school system. By day he continued his work as a technician, but he spent his off time practicing, training, and working as a locksmith.
Larry’s operation has remained light, even as it has grown to be so successful. Larry’s fleet is three trucks strong, and the big truck we see around town is Larry’s office. He keeps it stocked with all of the parts and gadgets he needs to tackle his customer’s problems. If he hasn’t got a part, it’s likely that one of his technicians does; after a quick meet-up they’ll get the job done.
Larry’s customers trust him with their safety because if Larry can’t fix a problem, he tries to find someone who can. He says, “I don’t like to go in and put band-aids on stuff; I like to fix it.” His business is not meant to pad his own pockets, he says, it’s for making people safe. Larry refuses to persuade his customers into buying a new “better” lock if their existing hardware is doing the job and they feel safe using it.
The key to Larry’s success is the relationships he forms with his customers. He knows the responsibility he carries as a locksmith, and every day people place their trust in him. As Larry’s mentor Skeeter Norsworthy said, “If you can’t trust your locksmith, who can you trust?”
403 Roy Bell Road
Jackson, GA, 30233`
Mike Grant is an entrepreneur who has been in business for over 20 years. In that time, he has built several successful businesses and has endured the same issues experienced by local business owners every day. “One of the most difficult decisions you can make as a business owner is where to spend your money for exposure,” he says. He’s seen how quickly the advertising landscape can change, and he knows what a business owner needs to make the most of their marketing.
Mike enjoys being a business leader and innovator of new ideas. Three years ago, Mike saw a huge opportunity to give back to every business in the community through digital media. This was the beginning of Southern Digital Captive Audience Advertising. Mike and his wife, Brandy, have grown Southern Digital to over 150 indoor digital network locations across the South Metro Atlanta area. Mike and Brandy’s goal for Southern Digital is to help businesses build brand awareness and gain exposure through improved targeting and repetition. To help meet this goal, Southern Digital has expanded to include other advertising services like promotional printing, a savings coupon network, business fundraising, and more.
Even after the explosive growth, Mike and Brandy continue to take time to visit each indoor digital network location in person. They visit their customers to build lasting personal relationships, and to make sure the businesses they serve are thriving. “It is important to us for our customers to have success,” says Mike, and it shows in every interaction he has with the businesses that count on him.