Starting small, with big aspirations

Even in a city filled with large, international corporations, small businesses in Columbus are finding their place in the local economy.

The downtown Columbus area, especially along Washington Street, seems to be a hub for local entrepreneurs who want to set up shop and share their talents with other residents, said Cindy Frey, president of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce.

As new businesses come into town, residents have more shopping options, which bolsters the local economy and makes the city more appealing to tourists and potential new residents who are considering moving to Columbus for work.

Supporting those businesses, Frey said, can only serve to help the city and promote its reputation around the state.

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Giving back to Columbus

For Clint Noble, being a local entrepreneur is about more than just making money — it’s about giving back to his hometown.A Columbus native, Noble, 29, opened his first business, Noble’s Barbershop, at 525 Washington St. just four months ago.Although starting a new business was harder than he ever imagined, the Columbus East graduate said he has already developed a steady group of regular customers who enjoy his business’ old-time barbershop experience.

That experience, Noble said, comes complete with straight razor and hot towel shaves, a rare find in today’s world of men’s shaving and hair care, he said.

But what makes his shop even more unique is Noble’s plans to sell alcohol when he receives his liquor license — he applied for the license in the hopes of making his customers feel more relaxed and at home in the shop.

Even though his shop provides a luxury grooming experience, Noble remembers a time in his life when his family’s financial situation would have kept him from visiting a shop like the one he currently owns.

That’s why he donated backpacks and school supplies to the Lincoln — Central Family Neighborhood Center to be given to children from families living in poverty.

“We just try to give back,” he said.

Keeping her on her toes

She rarely keeps her business in just one place, and Columbus is only the newest location for the young entrepreneur’s successful business career.At 28 years old, Chicago native Leslie White opened her newest salon, Fringe, in Columbus in April. She’s maintained a steady client base in Indianapolis, where she lives.White’s work as both a salon and wedding hair and make-up stylist keeps her constantly on the move between Columbus and Indianapolis, and only allows her to personally work in her Columbus shop two days a week.

But even though she is not here all the time, White said most of the customers she styles at Fringe have been with her for at least two years and have followed her wherever her business grows.

And although she is a 10-year seasoned professional, coming into work in the mornings — wherever that work might be — still excites White every day.

“I still get butterflies when I do a wedding,” she said. “But that’s good, because it keeps me on my toes.”

Opening a ‘real’ store

After being in business for herself for two years, she finally decided it was time to open a real store.At first Gina Martin was skeptical about opening her Pomp and Bloom flower shop on Third Street, but now, she said purchasing the store was an investment worth making.Martin has had a near-constant stream of requests for flowers for weddings and other special events.

Her new store location, which she opened in March as an alternative to running her business from her home, has allowed her to explore her creativity.

In addition to creating custom bouquet designs, Martin offers her clients a bloom of the month club, which comes with a different flower petal to place inside a necklace each month, and air plants, which are meant to be suspended in the air and survive without soil.

And with her extensive network of wedding specialists — which includes Leslie White, whose Fringe salon sits right next door to Pomp and Bloom — Martin said she never has to look far to find her next client.

It took some convincing, but as her client base continues to grow, Martin said she knows opening the new shop can only help her business.

“It’s definitely worth it,” she said.

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Noble’s Barbershop

  • Owner: Clint Noble
  • Address: 525 Washington St., Columbus
  • Phone: 812-799-7528


Pomp and Bloom

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Just two days after the Thanksgiving holiday, more than 3,000 communities across the country will show their gratitude for local entrepreneurs during Small Business Saturday on Nov. 28.

On Small Business Saturday, residents are encouraged to shop at local small businesses, which generally include those stores with 20 employers or fewer.

Cindy Frey, who is the president of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is asking Columbus residents to visit and shop at the stores owned by local small business merchants on that day to show their support for the local economy.