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Georgia Small Business Week: Atlanta Movie Tours

March 23, 2018

Georgia Small Business Week (March 19-23, 2018) encourages all Georgians to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements made by small businesses across the state. This week, we're spotlighting just a few small businesses in the Downtown Atlanta community.

Today, meet Carrie Burns, Founder/CEO and Chief Movie Buff of Atlanta Movie Tours, based in Downtown's Castleberry Hill neighborhood. Last year, Atlanta Movie Tours received the Georgia Department of Economic Development's Small Business Rock Star Award.

What inspired you to start your small business?

I have always valued entrepreneurship and used to take friends visiting Atlanta all around to show them where works like The Walking Dead were filmed. A girlfriend of mine invited me to dinner one night in January 2012 and suggested that we start a business of the endeavor. On March 21st of that year, we hosted our first media tour. 10 days later, we had our first sold out Big Zombie Tour (based on The Walking Dead).


What changes has your business experienced since its inception?

In the beginning we were running a tour a week. We now run over 20 tours a week during the majority of the year and sometimes upwards of 30. We have built out our retail shop, which we moved into a couple of years after getting started, for additional merchandise and a comfortable place for guests to start the tour. There are more opportunities to show guests famous filming spots, including tours based on Marvel movies like Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther. We have serviced over 50,000 guests and retain our #2 TripAdvisor position. We are working on expanding our impersonator crew, including The Walking Dead, Gone With the Wind, and more. Since becoming Small Business Rock Stars, we have seen even greater growth and continue to add additional tours, and are looking at further building out our retail space in the coming year.


What do you like best about being a small business owner, and what are some of the challenges you face?

Being a small business owner is always a learning experience, which I love. I love getting to create something from nothing, working with our team to build the best experience for the guests, and continuing to further the #GeorgiaFilm focus. It’s amazing showcasing film and tourism in Atlanta, and working on further expanding and building on that. There are always challenges, but by building a solid team there’s nothing that we can't overcome. We trust our team to give us feedback, which grows the company and strengthens our bond. The guests feel that, and while they come to us as TV and movie fans, we work hard to make them fans of Atlanta Movie Tours.


What do you feel are the benefits of running your small business in Downtown? (And, in your case, Castleberry Hill?)

The overall exposure in Atlanta continues to grow, and we work to put film and tourism at the forefront. With all the people moving into the area, we offer a great opportunity to see the area with a fun spin. The Castleberry Hill area is so perfect because of the amount of filming that happens around here. It can be challenging to detour around filming, but it’s obviously fun for the guests. As the city continues to grow, so does Casteberry Hill. The costs to open and run a business in Downtown Atlanta are so much lower than other major cities, and there are so many resources to help you get up and running.


What do you like best about being in Downtown Atlanta, and where you do feel our community has room to grow?

It’s a super exciting time to be in Atlanta. There are so many people working on planning the city, and with a new Mayor we’re hopeful we will continue to see great things. Homelessness is a concern for those of us running and business and, in my case, living Downtown, as I have been a resident of Castleberry Hill since 2001.The guests see that as well and many comment on it, but there are continued initiatives with outreach groups. 


What’s the best way for someone in Downtown to get to know your business better?

The best way is to visit our website at atlantamovietours.com, check out all the tours we have, and find out where our shop is in Castleberry Hill…then come see us!
 


 

Georgia Small Business Week: Atlanta Souvenirs

March 21, 2018

Georgia Small Business Week (March 19-23, 2018) encourages all Georgians to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements made by small businesses across the state. This week, we're spotlighting just a few small businesses in the Downtown Atlanta community.

Today, meet Oliver Hines of Atlanta Souvenirs, a "micro business" that operates out of the two kiosks in front of Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola, in the Centennial Park District

(Bonus: we did a video interview with Oliver for a previous "Voices of Downtown" blog series for the Downtown Atlanta Master Plan -- watch it here.)

What inspired you to start your small business?

I've always been drawn to business and making things work. I worked as a photographer for Secretary Slater during the Clinton Administration, and Washington, D.C. has a flourishing hospitality and tourism business. Since I have a long history in event documentation and hospitality, I decided to start Atlanta Souvenirs six years ago. I love making things happen, and this is a dream for me.

What changes has your business experienced since its inception?

Downtown Atlanta has much more foot traffic and international visitors than it used to. MARTA and Hartsfield-Jackson bring in a large crowd, whether they're here on a layover or because they want to see the city. It's easy to catch a train to Downtown. 

What do you like best about being a small business owner, and what are some challenges you face?

My favorite thing about being a small business owner is being in control of decisions and outcomes, good or bad. The buck stops with me. Some decisions aren't good, and you realize you should've waited longer or decided differently, but we aren't perfect. We make mistakes. 

What do you like best about being in Downtown Atlanta, and where do you think the community has room to grow?

Downtown is a very exciting place to be. The opportunities are numerous, the locations are wonderful, and being able to touch the tourist market in the middle of it, rather than being on the outside, is immensely rewarding. The diverse restaurant industry is also great - you really get to experience the hospitality of the South and international cuisine and culture at the same time.

What's the best way for someone in Downtown to get to know your business? 

Come by, talk to us, ask us questions. We value customer service above all else - that's what people remember. When they look at a souvenir, it reminds them of the experience of picking it out, of the conversation, and the education that went into picking out that item. Good merchandise sells itself; the experience is priceless.


 

Georgia Small Business Week: Your Social Team

March 20, 2018

Georgia Small Business Week (March 19-23, 2018) encourages all Georgians to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements made by small businesses across the state. This week, we're spotlighting just a few small businesses in the Downtown Atlanta community.

Today, meet Your Social Team, which helps small brands DIY their social media. We chatted with founder Manu Muraro, who runs this small business out of Switchyards Downtown Club.

1. What inspired you to start your small business?

It was a combination of things, but mostly my daughter. I had worked the previous couple of years as the Marketing Director at King of Pops and was interviewing for a few jobs. But I wanted to be in control of my schedule, avoid traveling, and most full time jobs out there wouldn't have allowed me to do that. At the same time, because of the work I did with King of Pops' Instagram, a lot of people were hitting me up about helping them with social media. I realized there was potential there.

2. What changes has your business experienced since its inception?

I started the business a little less than a year ago, thinking it would be a traditional social media agency with a workshop here and there. Today, 80% of my focus is in Instagram training and workshops, which is so needed today. Instagram changes so fast that every week there's something new that requires a shift in strategy and best practices. Other than a conference here and there, no one else is filling this void here in Atlanta. 

3. What do you like best about being a small business owner, and what are some of the challenges you face?

I never had the entrepreneurial spark in me, I was always happy working for others. But my favorite things so far are being able to choose the path the business will go, select people I want to work with, build a brand that really speaks to what I believe in, and painting my whole office pink, of course! (laughs). The biggest challenge is to manage areas of the business that I am not necessarily good at or enjoy, like accounting and legal. Luckily my husband helps me in this area, and I also work with a wonderful CPA. 

4. What do you feel are the benefits of running your small business in Downtown? (And, in your case, out of Switchyards?)

The biggest benefit is being Downtown everyday. Downtown is such a great area, but I didn't used to spend much time here, except if I came to an event. Switchyards is a place that has such Downtown pride and is always promoting Downtown Atlanta, so being there you can't help but feel really connected with Downtown! Another big benefit is the community, not only inside of Switchyards. There are so many other businesses that are close by. It's easier to make connections if you don't have to get in traffic to meet for coffee.

5. What do you like best about being in Downtown Atlanta, and where you do feel our community has room to grow?

I love the historic buildings, the streetcar, the parks and colorful murals. I think there's always room for more great events, but being at Switchyards, I really can't complain on that area.

6. What’s the best way for someone in Downtown to get to know your business better?

The best way to get to know what we do is to check out our Instagram, @yoursocialteam, or come by Switchyards to say hi! If you run an Instagram account or a team that handles social media, join one of our Instagram workshops that happen every Friday. I am also always open for new ideas and collaborations, so just send me a message at manu@yoursocial.team. 

Learn more about Your Social Team at yoursocial.team >>


 

Georgia Small Business Week: Condesa Coffee

March 19, 2018

Georgia Small Business Week (March 19-23, 2018) encourages all Georgians to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements made by small businesses across the state. This week, we're spotlighting just a few small businesses in the Downtown Atlanta community.

Today, meet Condesa Coffee. With locations in Old Fourth Ward and Sweet Auburn, owners Daniela Staiculescu and Octavian Stan hope to bring vibrancy back to Downtown. 

What inspired you to start your small business?

Several components inspired me. Passion for coffee, faith in this city, and a desire to restore Atlanta's vibrancy all brought me to run coffee shops. This building [the Atlanta Daily World building] has soul. Gene Kansas [the developer] has made it a point to preserve the historicism of this place, which makes this place special. I don't want to just be in a parking lot, where people pick up coffee and go; I want this to be an experience.

What changes has your business experienced since its inception?

First, our locations (Sweet Auburn and Old Fourth Ward) have totally different atmospheres. In Old Fourth Ward, the people living above and around us are our neighbors and customer base. Here, the customer base are Georgia State students, who are seasonal and are less predictable than those the residential area. 

What do you like best about being a small business owner, and what are some challenges you face?

We are very involved in community and civic responsibility. Like our work in the last local elections, our stance as a small business gives us more of a voice than as individuals. However, since we're three blocks away from the heart of Downtown, it's hard to attract people away from the middle of everything. We need more residents and neighbors to create that sense of community.

What do you like best about being in Downtown Atlanta, and where do you think the community has room to grow?

The residents are the best part of being Downtown. Our coalitions are important to us too, like the Atlanta Bike Coalition and the Streetcar. These organizations bring life and culture to Downtown. 

What's the best way for someone in Downtown to get to know your business? 

Stop by and try our coffee! We're as good as coffee gets, and I don't say that lightly. We love good coffee, and that's what we're about. 


 

Welcome 2018 at the Peach Drop in Woodruff Park

December 28, 2017

Mayor Kasim Reed will join City of Atlanta residents and visitors at Woodruff Park for the Peach Drop to celebrate the end of 2017 and welcoming of 2018.

Woodruff Park will open at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 31, and entertainment will begin at 7:00 p.m. The park and surrounding area will be fenced off, with designated access points located at:

  • Auburn Avenue and Park Place
  • Edgewood Avenue and Park Place 
  • Peachtree Street and Edgewood Avenue
  • Peachtree Street and Walton Street

Bags will be searched at the access points and only clear bags will be allowed in. No food or alcohol can be brought into the area, but items will be sold at the venue. Chairs, coolers, firearms, umbrellas, drones, pets, bicycles, hoverboards and skateboards are all prohibited.

Planned street closings include Peachtree Street and Ellis Street on the north and Peachtree Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. on the south. Atlanta police suggest event-goers take MARTA to the event or use rideshare services to reduce vehicular traffic.

Road closures* for the Peach Drop will go into effect from 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 30 to until late morning on Tuesday, January 2. During this time, Peachtree Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from Ellis St to MLK Jr. Dr, and additional area closures are possible.

*Closures are subject to change without advance notice.

City of Atlanta to Host New Year’s Eve Peach Drop at Woodruff Park

Atlanta Police Department prepares to manage security at annual Peach Drop celebration


 

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