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Co-starters - two new shops opening in Erwin

Sue Guinn Legg • May 9, 2018 at 9:23 PM

ERWIN — A couple of new shops are opening for business in downtown Erwin with first-place prize money for start-up expenses, a year of free high-speed internet and other support from the Joint Economic Development Board of Unicoi County and Eriwn Utilities’ CO.STARTERS training program and business pitch contest.

After a couple of soft opening runs during Unicoi County High School’s prom night and Saturday’s Great Outdoors Festival, Sharee and Kenneth Perciful on Wednesday officially cut the the ribbon on What’s the Scoop, their new family oriented ice cream parlor at 214 S. Main Ave.

Jan Bowden, an Ohio native who is relocating to Erwin with her husband, will soon open an art glass and metal fusion and cutting gallery at the corner of Union Street and Nolichucky Avenue.

Both shops are launching with help from the Appalachian Regional Commission, Erwin Utilities and JEDB’s Cool & Connected Downtowns grant program.

Bowden and Perciful, who tied for first place in the program’s recent nine-week business training curriculum and pitch contest, were presented with $4,000 in prize money to get their shops up and running.

Perciful’s business plan includes an adjoining board game cafe with seating for up to 30 people, cozy tables and a library with more than 200 board games.

Asheville, North Carolina, transplants, Sharee said Erwin’s wholesome, safe, family friendly atmosphere had a lot to do with their move across the mountains. Likewise, she said, it is important to them that their shop serves as a community hub where families can “unplug, fellowship and recharge.”

Their ice cream flavors, all made at The Hop Creamery in Asheville, will rotate every two weeks. This week’s featured flavors include Elephant Tracks, in honor of the new herd of baby elephant statues now on display in downtown Erwin, Bourbon Brown Sugar, Butter Mint, a couple of vegan flavors and several gluten-free varieties.

Bowden’s gallery will feature metal and glass cutting and fusing with classes for those who wish to learn more about the craft.

The JEDB and Erwin Utilities will work alongside both businesses with grant funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission for specific business, a year of free Erwin Fiber gigabit broadband and a year of free membership in Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce.

Lee Brown, chairman of the JEDB and general manager of Erwin Utilities, said he believes Erwin and Unicoi County are prime for business growth and called it a great pleasure to provide the CO.STARTERS program that helped launch the new businesses.

More information on Cool & Connected and other development opportunities in Unicoi County may be obtained by contacting JEDB Director Tyler Engle at director@unicoiedb.com or 423-743-9555.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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