Sara’s House also been featured on numerous regional and national publications about things to do in the city and the region, including Country Living’s “25 Under-the-Radar Midwestern Towns for Girlfriend Getaways.”
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Vallandingham will be honored at 11:45 a.m. today at the Courtyard by Marriott Hamilton during the chamber’s 2017 Small Business Person of the Year Luncheon.
Liz Hayden, Small Business Development specialist for the City of Hamilton, said Vallandingham “jumped in feet first” before a lot of other businesses did and was willing to take a chance on downtown Hamilton in a highly visible property.
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“It was this big, transformative change in our community that when people were driving by, they saw things were changing in Hamilton, so Sara was a big part of that,” Hayden said.
Besides positively promoting the city’s downtown as a place to open a business to potential entrepreneurs, she is “highly involved” in Hamilton’s downtown activities, was one of the creators of Alive After 5.
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She remains an active leader in this effort to bring more people to Hamilton’s downtown businesses and was integral in starting Street Feet, a downtown walking club that launched in 2016 and brought people downtown to shop on the weekends, Schotz said.
Vallandingham is “highly creative” when it comes to trying to attract business to her shop, hosting various events, including Salvage Saturday and a terrarium and floral workshop.
“Sara’s not just about herself and her business, she is one of the best collaborators I’ve ever met,” Hayden said. “She’s always working with the other business owners downtown.
Schotz said Vallandingham’s work to continually develop and implement events that attract people to downtown Hamilton is helping to transform people’s perceptions of the community and helping its small business community thrive.
Another nominator, Rhonda Brown, of Hamilton, said Alive After 5 increased visibility and monthly sales for her shop, InsideOut Studio, and lauded Vallandingham for promoting not just her business, but others, as well.
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“She truly believes that High Street is as strong as the weakest link, the working together to promote all of the businesses will benefit everyone,” Brown said. “She is constantly thinking of how to drive traffic onto High Street.”
Vallandingham’s family now owns and lives in the building in which her business is located, which Schotz said shows “a tremendous commitment to and faith in the Hamilton community.
Vallandingham’s also has been involved in every Hamilton Flea event and serves on the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce’s board.
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Another nominator, Jason Crank, praised Vallandingham and her husband Dave for working to restore the building with the help of Hamilton’s CORE Fund.
“There were challenges along the way as there would be with any other historic/older building renovation … but again … they moved forward,” Crank said. “In the end, they have a fantastic space that has improved the look and feel of downtown Hamilton more than any other building I can recall in recent memory.”