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.