Ladies Dominate Downtown Businesses

By Lindsey Adkison
The Brunswick News, Ga.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The business scene in downtown Brunswick, Georgia is dominated by women. According to the Downtown Development Authority, there are more than 20 female-owned businesses in the immediate area. Not included in that figure are several shops whose owners are couples, with the woman owning half the business.

The Brunswick News, Ga.

Ever since she had a vision to open a restaurant, Kate Buchanan has wanted to be in downtown Brunswick. The first venture began in 2001 when her mother decided to open a restaurant called Cargo, formerly located in the Elliot Building, now owned by Straton Hall. Buchanan joined her, even though the current owner of Indigo Coastal Shanty had other plans.

“I was actually looking at the building I’m in now — the old Blue Bird Cafe building — and my mom was with me and the contractor looking at the building. Then she walked across the street and just fell in love with the old Cargo building,” she said.

“So she said ‘why don’t you join me on my project?'”

Buchanan agreed. Later, she took over that restaurant until 2009 when she sold it, opting instead to open the Shanty, which offers a more causal dining experience. But while her venues may have changed over the last 16 years, her love of downtown has not.

“Downtown is a special place and I think there is a lot of outreach among the business owners. Everyone is pretty good about helping each other out,” she said.

These days, most of those doing the helping are ladies. The business scene downtown is dominated by women. According to the Downtown Development Authority, there are more than 20 female-owned businesses in the immediate area.

Not included in that figure are several shops whose owners are couples, with the woman owning half the business.

From restaurants and coffee shops to galleries, jewelry stores and crafting boutiques, ladies are certainly prominent within the downtown landscape. While the number of businesses owned by women is surprising to some, to those who have set up shop there is makes perfect sense.

Jennifer Zamudio owns Dot and Army on Newcastle Street, which sells handmade wares and serves as a manufacturing center for a line of napkins. She feels that the welcoming vibe has served as a conduit to bring more women into downtown.

“I think there is so much girl power downtown because we truly want each other and this area to succeed,” Zamudio said.

“We are collaborative, supportive and a cheerleader to one another. If they succeed, I succeed and vice a versa.”

Susan Bates, owner of Tipsy McSway’s, feels the same.

Since opening her bar and grill on Newcastle Street in 2012, she has become a driving force for positive growth in downtown Brunswick. Bates, like Zamudio, feels that the attitude of acceptance certainly helps.

“At first, I thought it was a coincidence, but now I think we are open to other women owned businesses and they feel that,” Bates said.

That is a theory that repeatedly crops up among the downtown entrepreneurs. Pam Taylor, like her compatriots has always been right at home at her shop — Pam Pam’s Cupcakes on Newcastle Street.

“I think that there are so many women here because the women who are already here welcome others. We’re like ‘we’re here, come on down and be a part of this,'” she said.

The growth surrounding downtown is exciting for Taylor, who grew up in the area.

“I am a native of the Golden Isles and I’ve been coming down here all my life. So when I thought about where to open my business, I really didn’t have to think very hard … it was just what was normal for me,” she said.

The flurry of female-owned businesses is not a surprise to Mathew Hill either. The executive director of the Downtown Development Authority said it is part of a national trend but notes Brunswick’s women are blazing their own trails.

“Brunswick’s women-owned businesses extend outside of sectors traditionally thought of as women’s industries (beauty & clothing) to include restaurants, marketing and healthcare.”

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