ARLINGTON – Businesswoman Suzi Quillen was researching marketing ideas last summer when she stumbled across a reality show on Hulu called, “Small Business Revolution – Main Street.”
The owner of a yarn and vintage housewares store downtown, Perfectly Knotty, was so enthralled with the show that gives small-town businesses a makeover she binge-watched it.
So when she saw the show was casting for a town to have a starring role on Season 4 – featuring home improvement guru Ty Pennington and co-host Amanda Brinkman – she submitted an application nominating Arlington.
From the 12,000 towns that applied across the country, Arlington moved into the Top 20 in November, then vaulted into the Top 10 last month. That showing earned a visit to Arlington Jan. 3-4 from show sponsor Deluxe Corp., a stop on their 10-city tour to visit the communities, and chat with local business people and residents about why their hometown deserves to be the winning one.
“You’ve been doing a really great job telling us about why you love Arlington,” Brinkman said at a reception at The Mirkwood Public House attended by over 100 people. “Keep telling us what makes this place special. It’s so fun to hear not only what you love about Arlington, but about the small businesses that you have here downtown.”
People are encouraged to keep sharing #MyArlington posts and tagging @thesmallbusinessrevolution on social media to highlight what makes Arlington and its businesses special.
The Deluxe team canvassed downtown, dropping by shops along Olympic Avenue. Camas, WA is among the other finalists.
Judges in mid-February will narrow the field to five. The winning town will be selected by the public during a weeklong event, so Arlington residents will need to be ready to cast their votes. Filming begins in March.
Arlington’s small-screen debut would deliver a $500,000 makeover, with dollars split among a handful of businesses selected by the show. Just for being one of the 10, Arlington will benefit when Deluxe returns May 1 to host a free marketing seminar. Their experts will share advice on creating a business plan, maximizing market dollars and developing a sustainable business. Space is limited. Register at deluxe.com/myarlington.
The program started in 2015 when the company looked to celebrate its 100th anniversary in a way what went beyond focusing on themselves, Brinkman said. They wanted to create a movement. “We wanted to do something that honored the kinds of businesses that we have loved working with all these years,” she said.
The winning town will be featured in the eight-part series to air next fall. The show hires local contractors for revitalization projects.
Business people and residents who attended the reception said they are excited. “Arlington really is an amazing town,” said Quillan, wearing a shirt with the tagline #MyArlington.
Her best friend, Colleen Vollans, added: “We’re in it to win it.”
Karen Feliciano, born and raised on Hawaii’s Big Island, moved to Arlington in August. “I chose to live in Arlington after seven years of visiting because it is so amazing, and I’ve met nothing but wonderful people here,” said Feliciano, who works at The Mirkwood. “I love driving down main street. It’s so gorgeous, and being so close to the mountains – Arlington’s magical.”
Brinkman likes the community’s confidence.
“But the secret is, you don’t need the show to continue the momentum that you’ve been up to for the last two months of this process.”
She said the towns that are able to keep the energy and momentum going on the other side of the process are the real winners.
“Really use this moment to support small businesses,” she said.
“If we don’t support them, they won’t be around for us to love and patronize.”