Robert Herjavec & Amanda Brinkman ‘Meet Wabash’ | Small Business Revolution – Main Street: S1E1

When you’re driving into
Wabash, Indiana it hits you. Big cities tend to get all of
the press, most of the glory and a disproportionate amount
of the money in this country. Too often we forget about
the 120 million Americans building their homes, their businesses and their lives in small towns
far from the limelight. (Brinkman)
I think a lot of Americans
go through their day feeling like we’ve
lost something. a sense of community, a pace, and a size of life
that feels manageable
and kind; an idea that we as human beings are basically here to
take care of each other. But the more you get out
in this country the more you realize none of
those things have disappeared, they’ve just have been
happening while we
weren’t looking. (Herjavec) But something else
happened while we weren’t
looking. Our economy changed
fundamentally and no one was hit harder
then small towns and small
businesses. (Brinkman) These towns have
to reinvent themselves. And if we don’t help
them do that we will lose those communities
and that way of life and I think we’d miss it. That’s why we’re here
in Wabash, because this is
worth fighting for. (Announcer) small towns across
the country are fighting for their
survival, with the odds stacked
against them. But what happens if
we join that fight, if we dedicate a little money, a lot of experience, and thousands of hours of work, in the one small town; focusing on the businesses at
the heart of their main street. Nearly 10,000 people wrote in to tell us about their favorite
community. And the country voted
for one winner. Now, marketing expert
Amanda Brinkman and
her team at Deluxe, are going to work for the
people of Wabash, Indiana. And they’ve brought along
entrepreneur Robert Herjavec to help revitalize the town. Every episode we’re working
with a new small business To see if we can
change the odds. If together, we can
start a revolution. (Brinkman) Here we are
in downtown Wabash. (Herjavec)
I like these awnings. – Yeah the awnings are great. – Look at the buildings. So gorgeous. (Downs) I’ve been here since
I was 11 years old. My dad took a job here. I went away to school, and then made the decision
to come back to Wabash, to live, to raise a family, and to start a career. This was one of the best
decisions I’ve ever made
in my life. – Right here on Market street
this is kind of the main drag. – This is small-town America. It’s gorgeous. – Look at this beautiful
courthouse – Wow, I usually like not
to go inside a lot of
courthouses, but that’s a good one. – That’s a good rule of thumb. (Haynes) you know there
might be some debate, best town in America; I think we can wear that hat. Why? Have you met
the people here? – It’s a good small community. Everybody looks out
for everybody else (Emrick) You know I knew
I could raise my son here And he would be
just as safe as
I was. I’ve traveled a lot, but this is always been home. (Flohr)
Wabash is a small pond. You’re going to have a
conversation with someone who’s maybe down
and out on their luck, you’re going to have
a conversation with
the Mayor, all on the same
four block radius
here, it’s the front porch of life. (Long) Everybody
can call me Scott. Oh excuse me,
no, Mayor. And I’m like no, I was Scott before and
I’m going to be Scott after. (Herjavec) I feel like
I know everybody. I’m just waving
to everybody now. That kid’s like why did
that weird man wave at me. (Brinkman) This is
the Honeywell Center. – Oh wow, KC & the Sunshine
band are coming. What!? (Morris) I love Wabash. I have been here all my life and I’ll be 58 in September. (Smyth) I think
you’ll go along way to find people as
friendly as they
are here, and is willing
to help you out. (Flohr) That’s what
I love about Wabash. We are that neighbor
who helps out, but you have to be. [train whistle] (Downs) Years ago
Wabash was booming. And then like a
lot of the Midwest just started losing
industrial base, population, and the entire
community suffered. Downtown started dying. (Brinkman) so then right
outside of downtown you have a little more of kind
of challenging neighborhood, it’s not filled
with residents. (Herjavec) We’re only
a block from downtown and the buildings are all
not in great shape. – Right. (Blocher) when the
factories start closing and people were
moving out, we lost quite
a few people, all at once it seemed
like within a stretch
of 10 years, or so. (Long) We had a local tire
factory that shutdown and that was a loss
approximately 800 jobs. We saw a lot of
mortgage foreclosures; it was a story
all over the country. Over the last 20 years the population has shrunk from about 14,000 down to a
little over 11,000 right now. (Henderson) What do
you end up with? You end up with a shell
of a community. Walmart and a Target
out on the edge of town and no personality,
no love. (Long) How do you combat that? We’re like every other
town in America. Nobody’s beating down our door
to locate their factory here. So, do we need to
reidentify who we are? (Downs) If the downtown is
going to come back to
its full potential, it’s going to happen through
small business owners. Our goal is not to make
it like it use to be. Our goal is to make it
better than it is. (Brinkman) when we open
this Main Street contest
up to the public, we were honestly kind of
shocked by the number of people who voted for their
favorite small town. And I don’t think Wabash won
because of their old buildings, or picturesque Main Street; though they do have
all of that. I think they won because so
many people saw themselves
in Wabash’s story, and then they saw this
small group of people who are willing to do whatever takes to save
their town, that’s what we want
to be apart of. (All) Good morning. – Christine nice to meet you. – Robert, Mayor Long.
Welcome to Wabash. – Steve Downs, welcome to
Wabash. Glad to have you here. (Herjavec) What would you say
the biggest challenge, if I was a small business
owner here and you woke me up in
the middle of the night and you say “what your biggest
challenge as a business owner” what would I say? What do
you think people would say? (Downs)
Lack of population base, I mean, we are not big enough. You can’t support
all of these stores strictly on what’s
here in Wabash. – Is the average age of
the population rising? – Yes. Absolutely, no question
about it. – I’m in the tech business and one of the number one
thing that attracts young
people is quality of life. – And that’s what we’re
going for, I mean over the last few years we’ve really focused on
revitalizing the downtown area economically and
aesthetically. And once we get that going
and bringing people in, then it will expand and kind
of help the entire community. – But you have to have a job. – That’s number one. (Long) One of the things this
community was so dependent on for years was the automotive
industry; we have to diversify. – I think you have to look
at the small businesses. If you can have a sustainable
small business culture within Main Street
then that lasts. (Flohr) But that’s the gap
I keep seeing. We are really great at rallying
around small businesses to help them start. But then all the not so shiny
parts of running your business and
turning the open sign on… – Reality sets in. -We aren’t offering that
kind of support that’s the sustainability
piece. How can we ensure them access
to the help that they need? (Brinkman) I love that idea
because I mean, you know part of what we’re
here to help with is the
marketing piece, but there’s the legal or
account piece, there’s
inventory, there’s so many other things
that they need to be thinking
through. Wabash isn’t alone in being
a small-town that has small businesses that might have a passion
for what they’re doing but maybe not have the business
training to run a business are there things that we can
do to equip them to still live
that dream. (Weaver) Good Morning Wade
Weaver along with ya on 105.9 the Bash and
the My Bash Morning Jam. Big day in Wabash. We want to give
a Hoosier welcome to Deluxe’s Amanda Brinkman
and TV’s Robert Herjavec, here to give our little town
a Main Street Revolution. You may see them touring
the downtown this afternoon kind of getting the
lay of the land, and make sure you say
hi to them if you do. And also come by
First Friday tonight for some good food
and local shopping and the official Main Street
Revolution kick off at the
Eagles Theater. See you tonight. (Hayness) I love that they’ve
named it The Small Business
Revolution and I don’t think that
they realized that it was going to be the
kind of revolution that it
really is. (Brinkman) It’s kind of
amazing to walk in to town and see businesses already
painting their facades or working on their awnings, just sort of excitement over
having won the contest it makes me feel like we’ve
definitely ended up in the
right place. (Downs)
I’ve live here over 50 years and I’ve never seen
anything like this the town has really
come together. (Jolly) Everybody was getting
on every day and casting votes, trying to help out it, was a wonderful
thing to win it. – What are these stores? – This is one of the most
well-known dress shops in the area… – This is another great store
Thriftalicious, Ellen’s is another… – This buzz of excitement, it’s really been
an awesome thing
for the community. (Downs) A feeling of neighbors
working with neighbors, of friends being friends,
of supporting one another; I don’t presume that we can
solve the national problems; but I think this is
where it starts. This building here
is number one on our endangered
buildings list, because of its location, its appearance, is simply one we feel
that we’ve got to save; they’re old buildings, virtually all have to be gutted
and rebuilt… – Wow that’s a real challenge. – Can we take a peak what this
one looks like on the inside? – You’ll appreciate more
what we’re up against here. If we can’t save
these buildings and they start falling down then we loose the possibility
of bringing more people into
the community. If we can’t keep bringing
people into the community these small businesses
are not going to make it. – How do you ever get
your money back? – Oh, no, no, no, no, this
is not a business plan that you would appreciate
at all. This is absolutely; we have to find people
with more money than sense, it’s not a practical decision, a lot of it is not practical
and I acknowledge that but if you don’t try
you’ll never get there. – For sure – And that’s why we’re here. That’s what the Small Business
Revolution Main Street
is about. How can we make sure that
these main streets come back to the days of great? – What makes this work
is all of us together. (Herjavec) You know it’s funny, if the town of Wabash
actually came on Shark Tank I’m not sure I’d invest in it. There’s a lot of challenges
here, but spending time with
these people you kind of stop thinking
like that and just start trying to
figure out how to help. (Brinkman) But we do have
limited time and resources, so if we’re going
to be effective; we need to go in
with some specific ideas and a concrete game plan. – What do you think
we can do here? – First of all I think
that they already, through the contest and just who they seem
to be as people, it feels like they really
banded together. – I also definitely get
the feeling they want to change that’s a hard thing; a lot of people are very
resistant to change. – They know they maybe
need some marketing help
as a city, and that their small businesses
could use that to really thrive but are already in this
really great starting place. I feel like, it’s not like
we need to do a makeover. I think we just need to
kind of do an enhancement and help them evolve
a bit as a downtown. – One of the things
that really struck me when we were walking around is, they have this town center, this theater call
the Honeywell Center that gets 200,000 visitors
from out of town, and I think that’s
a natural resource we can help the
business tie in to, because it doesn’t seem
to be a lot of connection yet. – It’s just two blocks
down right? But it sounded like they’re
not bringing people in to the downtown. – Tony Bennett’s coming
here for goodness sakes, I mean that’s big. – It is big, it sounds like
they do draw from miles away. – You know the other thing
that struck me Amanda is there is no signs, like even the traffic flow
from Market Street to, is that Miami? – Miami is there and
then Canal. – There was no sign. There was nothing that said go
this way for more great stuff. So, I think when you want
to attract customers, not just outside, it could
be from the next block and I think we could really
help them with that. – Signs are a great idea
to get people to go over to the businesses on Canal, ‘cause Market itself
is so charming already. – As we go through the town let’s explore some of
these things with people. (Brinkman) So we’ve got
the beginnings of a plan. We know we’re going to be
focusing on the downtown, which is just a
four-block radius. We know we need
to bring people in, both tourists and
Wabash residents and we need to get them
shopping local. We think the Honeywell Center
can help us do it and we want to work
not only with the town, but with six individual
businesses that are really anchors
for the community. The Deluxe team and I can help
them market themselves more
effectively, and work with local contractors
on physical improvements, while Robert focuses on
the nuts and bolts of operating a small business But before we get any further what we really need to do is meet the people of Wabash. [applause] (Downs) Welcome Wabash. Hello. It is my very distinct
pleasure to welcome
all of you to this afternoon’s
festivities. We have two very special
guests with us this afternoon. Would you please give
a warm Wabash welcome to Amanda Brinkman
and Robert Herjavec. [applause] (Brinkman) It is so great
to be in Wabash. These small towns are what
make this country great. So, we are about to go
through a transformation, a journey together. And so wouldn’t it
be incredible if we could inspire
other small towns, to band together
the way you have. (Herjavec) Isn’t that great
that you can grow up in
a community where you have support
of other people. And this is what you have
in this town. You have everything here that you need to be successful. It doesn’t matter
where you’re from. It matters what you do
with what you’re given. (Flohr) How do we rebuild? How do we go from
a smokestack mentality into something that
is more culture driven, more local? You start with the core, of where community began. (Griffith) Nothing but amazing
things are going to come
from this. We’re in the movement of bringing new generation
of people in and appealing to the younger
generation of our community. (Haynes) There’s something
different here, There’s something special here These are people that really
do care about each other. They’re willing to
invest their lives into making Wabash
into something greater. (Brinkman) We’ve got a lot
of work ahead of us, but being here, I’m just overcome
by this feeling of how much we can accomplish when we’re really together. I think sometimes
we under estimate how good people are
capable of being. or maybe we just forget. Wabash is a good reminder. Join us next time when we go
to Harry’s Old Kettle Saloon, have a drink, learn about the business, and see what we can do to help. ♪

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