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Key Idea: Work On Your Ecosystem

Deland won the Great American Main Street award because merchants pulled together.

Key Question:


Like all great business owners, Pete and John promote their neighbors while they promote Feasel's. Does this sound familiar? As the old fishing village of Newport, Oregon lost many fishermen, Cindy McEntee, owner of Mo's Chowder, jumped on the tourism bandwagon to help save the town's economy. Cindy changed her menu and hours of operation to accommodate tourists rather than the fishermen who were the restaurant's core customer for nearly 50 years. Cindy has made Mo’s an attractive, fun place to be and has worked hard to promote tourism in Newport. Mo's Chowder is considered to be the anchor of modern tourism in Newport today although new visitors would think it has been like what we now see forever.  More on Mo

Bill Sugars of Libertyille, Illinois worked to help the town win recognition from the National Trust For Historic Preservation's Main Street Program. His Mickey Finn's Brew Pub is an anchor for the town square that has been revitalized by many small business owners. Bob Sakata, a farmer, works constantly with the Onion and Sweet Corn Growers Associations to develop labor saving equipment and promote the consumption of fresh vegetables. We do not operate in a vacuum and when we work to elevate our colleagues, we all win.

The success of Feasel's is dependent upon the success of De Land's "Main Street." When Florida Victorian Architectural Antiques and Muse Books and the Doll Parlor do well, Feasel's does well. The structure of anything that's alive is cellular. It has seen and unseen dependencies. It's chaotic and ordered at the same time.

The Main Street program, with its planning, meetings and marketing efforts, is the structure. The chaos happens every day as merchants serve their customers, refer customers to one another, and make many decisions, all for the good of the whole.

Q: How is Feasel's involved in the development of DeLand's Historic Business District?

A: In several ways. John Gregory has been an active volunteer and cash donor to the revitalization efforts. Jimmy McKetta, a salesperson at Feasel's, is the volunteer chairman of the Facade Grant program. This means that, when a business owner in the historic business district decides to fix up the front of their building, they can access funds set aside for that purpose by the Main Street Program. Jimmy will be the administrator of those funds.

Q: Why is the Main Street program so helpful to small businesses?

A: A single small business can not offer shoppers and diners everything they want, and a small business doesn't have the money to do the advertising and marketing needed to bring customers to a destination. By working together, the small businesses attract attention to the entire district.

Q: Is the Main Street program run entirely by volunteers and what is its purpose?

A: No. Maureen France is the paid executive of the program and she said the program helps the business district with promotion, design, organization and economic restructuring. It also helps a new business get through all the red tape associated with opening the business and fixing up an old building.

What does it take to create a successful Main Street program?

A: Maureen says, "The proven approach is to have balance in the retail mix." This means a business district does best when it has a variety of restaurants, shops, services, entertainment and night life.

Think about it

What are you doing to promote the ecosystem in which you operate?

Clip from: Feasel of DeLand, Florida and the Rebirth of Downtown

DeLand, Florida: Just northeast of Orlando, this town personifies the statement, "Big business homogenizes. Small business diversifies."

On the Main Street of this town they celebrate the rich variety of one-of-a kind shops owned by locals.  Just on the outskirts of town looms the big-box retailers.  How does a family-owned hardware store on Main Street survive? How can they compete?  

We do not have any simple answers. We do know that small businesses must develop a many-sided customer relation that competes in value against the volume discounters.

When we taped this episode of the show, Feasel Paint & Glass  was being slammed by by nearby discounters, both Home Depot and Lowe. And, we are sorry to report that this downtown store closed on December 9, 2008 (more).

We were fighting for the small businesses.  We still do.  Up until the store's closure, we had encouraged people to drop in on Feasel's on Main Street and buy something.  We talked with the new owner, Mike Woosley.  He's a very nice person.  He was optimistic and we all wanted to encourage their esprit de corps for their role in the continued Main Street revitalization.

This town, cited by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a "Great American Main Street" award winner, the people of Feasel Paint & Glass are helping to paint that picture.

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Feasel Paint and Glass

John Gregory,

Business Classification:

Year Founded:

Work On Your Ecosystem

HATTIE: We're in De Land, Florida, just a few minutes west of Daytona Beach, to find out why it won
The Great American Main Street Award.

(Voiceover) Since 1980, the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street programs have generated over $5 billion in physical improvements, nearly 27,000 net new businesses and more than 100,000 net new jobs.

Much of the work to revitalize business districts is being done by small-business owners, like John and Pete Gregory. John has been selling paint on this street for 40 years, and he's a charter member of De Land's Main Street program.

Step into the Small Business School master class now with Pete and John Gregory.

(Voiceover) Thirty miles from Daytona Beach, De Land, Florida, is full of proud citizens.

Unidentified Man #1: This is a place where people who want to live in a small town can come.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) De Land celebrates its history with the help of Henry Deland, who founded the town in 1876.

Is what we see today, what you dreamed about?

HENRY DELAND: Yeah. Well, the only thing different is I didn't dream they'd ever cut down every one of the palm trees.

HATTIE: (Voiceover)While millions flock to the web everyday to shop and the local village is now a global village, there are still plenty of us who look forward to shopping on Main Street. We love the special feeling that only comes with doing business face to face, heart to heart. Where here is no separation between personal and professional lives. It's where customers are friends and friends are customers and everybody knows your name.

Unidentified Man #2: Well, we started out in February of 1949.

HATTIE: You started pouring coffee.

Man #2: Before you was born. Been pouring it ever since.

HATTIE: Why do you think this group has a good time getting together? Why do you think it's important for you or for anybody else to have breakfast together?

Unidentified Man #3: It's a lot of guys that have a common interest, and that's the promotion of their hometown. I've been here for 62 years and every day your heart beats a little better for making this a better place to live.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Dave Rigsby is the mayor.

You won The Great American Main Street Award.


HATTIE: Why do you think you won?

DAVE: I think we won that because of a community that cared. It takes leadership. It takes leadership from the bottom up, really.

WILLIE BRIGHT: The traffic that you see down here today, you didn't have that eight years ago.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Willie Bright is the city commissioner.

WILLIE: ...and that was our object, to get downtown open again.

MAUREEN FRANCE: The Main Street program is a proven approach to downtown revitalization.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Maureen France is the director of De Land's Main Street program.

MAUREEN: It takes into consideration four points: promotion, design, organization and economic restructuring, basically. But ours is, I would say, beyond that. It's relationship building. You're not gonna be successful alone. You're just not going to be. And, you know, the more successful relationships you can build, I feel that's the secret to the success.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Anchoring the retail area at one end of De Land's Main Street is Feasel Paint & Glass. Established in 1921, it was owned by John and Pete Gregory.

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