|Fort Thomas business owners pose with #ShopSmall signs to welcome the owners of new #FTMFamily member 15 North Pizza, coming to the Towne Center/Mark Collier|
If there was ever any doubt about Fort Thomas as a business-friendly community, a new enterprise coming to the Towne Center is putting that to rest.
As Small Business Saturday approaches, 15 North, the new wood-oven pizza place set to open at 15 N. Fort Thomas Ave., has become an example of the Fort Thomas community rallying quick and enthusiastic support around business owners who decide to make Fort Thomas their home.
The evidence for this began piling up not long after Ed and Lori Gossman, who now own the property near the corner of Highland and Fort Thomas Avenues, announced their plans.
The Gossmans were quick to publicly express their excitement about coming to Fort Thomas, a community that sits in contrast with their prior home, Washington, D.C. "Comparing Fort Thomas to there is apples to oranges," they told FTM back in May.
|Lori and Ed Gossman, new owners of 15 North Pizza/provided|
In particular, the Gossmans are excited about how the size of the Fort Thomas community will impact their lives as small business owners: "We lived 45 minutes away from (our previous) restaurant and were putting something like 50,000 on the cars every year. We wanted our kids to go to school in Fort Thomas. We love the city."
Fort Thomas Matters, which has proudly advocated for #ShopSmall, #ShopLocal, and our own #FTMFamily, has seen first-hand the sparks of interest swell to flares of excitement and outpouring of support since the Gossmans began renovating the space for their business. Consistently since the spring, FTM's coverage of 15 North has not only garnered significantly higher-than-average readership numbers, but also inspired much discussion and excitement -- you can call it "buzz" -- around the Fort Thomas newcomers in comments on our site and Facebook page.
Much of that initial buzz resulted from the vested interest Fort Thomas residents have voiced in this particular property, which, despite its central location and unique architecture, has changed hands numerous times over the past decade, and not without some drama.
Most recently, Mio's Pizzeria occupied the space, only to abandon its venture in Fort Thomas in an unexpected and dramatic fashion. Mio's employees arrived to work one day last winter to find the doors locked and a hand-written sign explaining they owners had closed the location, to much public outcry and disappointment.
FTM's story breaking that the building had new owners remains one of our most-read stories to date, and other announcements of the Gossmans' progress, like when they revealed their centerpiece oven to the community, also remain top stories on FTM.
Then, this past weekend, 15 North showed just how quickly the Fort Thomas community can express its support.
This happened on Facebook, as 15 North Pizza's Facebook page gathered just shy of 500 page likes in a single weekend. "Wow! That escalated quickly!" they posted to Facebook on Sunday, "454 likes in one weekend. Thanks for the support!"
The page, which has only been active for less than a week, is now up to 633 likes as of this writing, and has already initiated two giveaways, as a thank you to the community.
That the Gossmans are not native to Fort Thomas, or even Kentucky (Lori's sister and brother-in-law, who had moved here previously, were also a draw for the couple), speaks volumes in a community that, for some throughout Northern Kentucky, has a reputation for being culturally "gated" or "exclusive."
Ultimately, the Gossmans are just one example of a wave that is building on the Fort Thomas horizon. This year has seen five new businesses open in the Towne Center alone, 15 North being but one of them. Also coming soon, the city will continue a now-established tradition not only in Fort Thomas but across Northern Kentucky and the nation, a #ShopSmall Small Business Hop, to promote local holiday shopping on the Saturday after Black Friday.
Is there more the city can be doing to make owning and operating a small business in Fort Thomas easier and more appealing? Probably. Owning a small business is some of the hardest, most demanding work there is.
But that's what makes displays of warmth and welcome, like that depicted in the photo above, so crucial to a community aspiring to cultivate its own healthy economy and vibrant business community.