New businesses find success in tough economy

By Ian Silver  bio | email

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - As more and more businesses close their doors in this doom and gloom economy, others are opening their doors to surprisingly warm welcomes.

Atmah Ja opened her high-end art gallery/yoga and massage studio in February even though she knew it would be hard in this painful recession.

"I just completely went for it," Atmah Ja said. "And without looking back, new fear, and just kinda grabbed the bull by its horns."

"It was at the time where it was sparked. It was full-on and just business after business all around was shutting down. And basically, I had to put the blinders on."

But she says her risk has paid off.

"We've seen just a complete influx of people. We've had nine people come in since we've been open and purchasing items."

Dean Johnson opened Shine restaurant and bar on upper King Street at the beginning of April, and has seen similar success.

"A lot better than I thought they would be," Johnson said. "I mean, we're outperforming our prediction. Based on... being in a slower economy, knowing that most restaurants are down, you know, 30 to 40-percent even."

Johnson says he started with a very specific goal.

"A fairly tight budget, you know, to create a really unique, beautiful product that is efficient, sustainable. We used a lot of sustainable technology and green innovation in the design."

Green innovation is something he says people want to support in a local business.

"I think people are very supportive of businesses that are trying to make those strides to be more efficient, be more green."

Ultimately, Johnson says you have to offer something people can't get anyplace else.

"Really, at the end of the day what's selling this place is the fact the food's so good, it's a beautiful environment, it's really unique for Charleston, something Charleston doesn't really have."

And while Atmah Ja can't see what the future holds for her business, she says she's loving every minute of it for now.

"I'm here for now. I'll continue to watch it unfold and be part of it, and then see where it goes."

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