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Capitalist Sage: How Barter Can Help Small Business During COVID19- Pandemic [Podcast]

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how can barter help small businesses

An age-old tradition of bartering between businesses is still alive and well thanks to the Southern Barter Club and founder Laurie Sossa, our guest on today’s episode of the Capitalist Sage. Learn how your business can barter and the benefits of working with SBC. Join Rico Figliolini and Karl Barham as they chat with Laurie about how SBC works, the benefits of barter, and exactly how to make bartering a part of your business.

Resources:

SBC Website: SouthernBarterClub.com
Global Website: SBCGlobalBarter.com
Phone Number: 678-547-0900

“We are here for the community. So, you know this is a time, more than ever, that we have to really just be a resource to one another… So definitely, what I’m hoping that everybody gets out of this more than anything is even if they don’t work with Southern Barter club, start slowly even with just leveraging what you have, your time, your resources, your assets, and don’t be afraid to approach another business owner you want to do business with. That’s your neighbor or colleague or someone you’ve always worked with… So if anything, we hope there’s awareness to bartering and trading.”

Laurie Sossa

Show Notes:

[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:03:17] – Laurie’s History with Barter
[00:05:42] – How Barter Works
[00:07:09] – Typical Trades
[00:14:29] – Businesses That Could Benefit
[00:18:28] – Pricing Concerns
[00:26:41] – Why Doesn’t Everyone Barter?
[00:29:23] – Business Expenses
[00:32:13] – Closing

Podcast Transcript

Karl: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors, and my co host is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets Digital Marketing and the publisher of the Peachtree Corners Magazine. Hey Rico, how are you doing today?

Rico: [00:00:47] It’s a beautiful day, Karl. Glad to be out here.

Karl: [00:00:50] Absolutely. Things are opening up. And little by little, I see activity happening throughout. So, we’re here doing this virtually, as we continue with the COVID-19 pandemic, but today… Innovative ways for, that folks are handling business during the pandemic. Let’s start off with our sponsors Rico.

Rico: [00:01:15] Sure. Well, let me introduce the sponsor, our lead sponsor in the family of podcasts, is Hargray Fiber. They’re a very large Southeastern based fiber cable company that provides solutions both to small businesses and large enterprise businesses. When it comes to internet connection and working online, teleworking and providing the bandwidth as well as fiber to these companies to be able to do what needs to be done across the Southeast. They’re not your cable guy, they are right in your community. They’re involved in the community and they’re there in quick notice to be able to help you do what you need to do. They’ve upscaled to be able to meet the challenges during this pandemic. So great place. They are offering all sorts of tools for free to be able to do online work, they’re HargrayFiber.com so this is, see how things can work for you.

Karl: [00:02:13] That’s fabulous. Well, today we’ve got an interesting topic. We wanted to, a couple of weeks ago, Rico and I were having a conversation as we were talking about how business people are figuring out ways to navigate some of the economic restrictions that have been put on businesses. And the topic of Barter came up. And for those of you that may not know much about Barter throughout the history and the present of it, we’ve got a fabulous guest here today. Laurie Sossa is the founder of the Southern Barter Club, and today we’re honored to have her on to help educate us a little bit around how Barter has been used and is being used by business owners to help them, not just today, during these economic times, but also how we can help people in their business, in particular, conserve cashflow. Hi, Laurie, how are you doing today?

Laurie: [00:03:11] Hey, good afternoon, and I’m doing well as well as can be. Thank you for having me as a guest today.

Karl: [00:03:17] No, we appreciate it. Why don’t we jump right in and start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and what led you down the path to discover and Barter as a business.

Laurie: [00:03:30] Well, my background is marketing, research and advertising. And we’ve worked with businesses that had products and services, and we were involved from the
beginning to the point where we helped them with marketing implications and recommendations and product launches and distribution. And we realized early on, especially manufacturer, everybody has their own costs of doing business. So there’s a lot of opportunity for leveraging. And so we realized early on that, you know, especially a business that’s just launching. That they could actually provide a marketing budget and expand it because if they leveraged something that they had the ability to earn at their costs of doing business, but yield the spending in the value of whole retail, it’s really a game changer. So early on, this is back in the nineties, we facilitated a lot of direct one-on-one trading, and I love the opportunity of being a resource to entrepreneurs and startups. Creating our own little ecosystem. But what we did realize is that there’s always a challenge. Have either, I don’t know if either of you or anyone you know, has ever done some type of barter. So that’s, that’s an interesting question because sometimes there’s a challenge of two people being interested in what the other person has to have to begin with, right? And also the value of being there. And so when we started seeing that, that’s when I decided, you know, I want to be a resource to entrepreneurs and to, you know, businesses, nonprofits that are cash strapped and take out of the equation, we call it the incidence of coincidence. You know, that’s when people actually have something that each other wants and that the value is there. And so we created our very own barter system, and 11 years later, it’s strong. And it’s not just here in the Southeast and Atlanta, but we actually have, several thousand throughout the state of Georgia and several thousand throughout the country. And we have reciprocation of 50,000 businesses around the world, that by itself…

Karl: [00:05:42] Wow. So I’m curious, how does Barter work typically? I’m a business owner and I need something in my business.

Laurie: [00:05:54] Well, the starting point is that we actually have what’s called a trade dollar, and it’s equivalent to what a US dollar is. And it is taxable. So in other words, the IRS sees the value of it. Our role as a barter organization and in the industry we’re called a trade exchange, by the way, the official terms in this $12 billion industry. And so we are the third party record keeper. So we manage all the debits, all the credits, and we utilize a trade dollar equivalent to what a cash dollar is. So a member is any type of business that has goods, services, resources, any type of underutilized asset that they otherwise don’t have a buyer for the cash. Or they have downtime and seasons and maybe not budgets but full cash. So it makes sense for them to bring it to a trade thing, such as SBC, Southern Barter Club where we’ll map the buyers and the sellers. So simply the people who participate are business owners. They’ve identified what services, resources, or assets that they want to make available and accept another form of currency in lieu of cash, in trade dollars.

Karl: [00:07:09] Got it. At a time like this where folks have been challenged with finding revenues and customers, can you give me an example of a typical trade that might happen?

Laurie: [00:07:25] Absolutely. Well for starters, we have what’s called a online platform. So just like all of us use day to day online banking, so you’re not going to go through the drive through right? Of the dry cleaners, or a fast food if, unless you’ve checked your balance right in your
online banking account. So we haven’t, this is a little house on an online sophisticated, but very easy to use platform where members keep up with their trade dollars that they’ve earned. So the members simply just move past except what’s called these trade dollars. And they bank them and they may have something very specific in mind that they want to spend them on. Or they just bank them knowing that when the rainy day comes such as right now, unfortunately during this pandemic, that they’ve already been earning and building up and have this alternative currency in their account that they can tap into to offset spending cash to help grow their business. I did want to ask if we could put the slide up to show the model of how it works.

Karl: [00:08:28] Okay.

Laurie: [00:08:30] Okay, wonderful. So with that, how it works, it shows the SBC in the middle, so that’s our currency equivalent to one cash dollar is the trade dollar. And so a dentist can be contacted by SBC broker and tell the dentist, we have an automotive company that does car repairs and they want to be able to send one of their employees to get some dental work. And so the dentist may say, Oh, well, I don’t have any need. My son owns an auto repair service, so I don’t have any need for auto repair. That doesn’t end there. What he does say is, but I will accept your trade dollars. And so the automobile company now has to provide automobile repair maybe to the hotel owner or maybe to a restaurant owner, somebody else in the network that would want and need auto repair, and he accepts in lieu of cash, for the labor only not the product. He accepts in lieu of cash, trade dollars for the labor, puts it in this online account. Let’s say as an example he earned 1,000 trade dollars for labor on a transmission, let’s say for the restaurant owner. The restaurant owner already earned their trade dollars by letting the landscaper, the plumber and the hairstylist eat at their restaurants and in lieu of cash accepted trade dollars. So they’ve already banked their trades dollars. So now the restaurant owner goes to the automobile shop, thanks to SBCs directory and brokering services and says, we’d like to get $1,000 worth of transmission repair. Not the actual, you know, transmission, but the labor and the services. And so they’ve accept whats called trade dollars. For facilitating that SBC charges a 6% cash transaction fee. So now the restaurant has provided a thousand dollars worth of dining. But at a core restaurant their cost of doing business is maybe 28 to 30 cents on the dollar. I know you know that as a business advisor and a business coach and business consultant, everybody has their own cost of doing business, but the restaurant, it’s 28 cents to 30 cents on the dollar. So for them to provide $1,000 of gift certificates and $20 increments, that’s could be resold over time. In reality to fulfill it, it’s only going to cost them tops $300. Okay. But at the same time, they just say, thank you, SBC for bringing me that thousand dollars sale. Here’s your $60 cash fee processing fees 6% okay. And now they earned that 1,000 trade dollars in their virtual account. It cost them $60. In hard costs, it may have cost them over time to fulfill each time the person was using the gift certificate. It perhaps cost them that $300 let’s say for food. You know, but other than that, what’s happening is the pasta is boiling, right? The water is on, in the pot, the pasta is boiling. The lights and electricity are on. The waitstaff is there. We don’t want them twiddling their thumbs. So if we could identify for the restaurant certain times of the week, certain times of the month, that is good. Monday nights, it’s dead. Monday through Thursday during lunchtime, we don’t have a lunch crowd. We would like to
accept those certificates during those times. But we really don’t want to barter on Friday, Saturday, Sunday cause we’re jam packed, our tables are filled. But we would welcome, you know, not having empty tables Monday through Thursday. And so we’ll take barter for currency. And so there’s a lot of things happening there in bartering. They earned more power bar currency. Now they have a thousand dollars they wouldn’t have had otherwise of spending power, not cash, but barter trade dollars. But now they also have filled, you know, open tables in the restaurant. Their wait staff is going to earn their 20% cash tip because it’s tipping as always. Now, here’s the best part. Let’s say it was an attorney that purchased a gift certificate and took one of their clients to the restaurant. Well, we know what happens when there’s a job well done and a fantastic experience, right? They’re going to come back. They’re going to remember the great experience. And so what happens is word of mouth advertising naturally just happens. And the person or the business contact that the attorney had brought in for the meal, they don’t know if it’s participating in a barter system. They don’t know was paid with alternative currency. They just know that they were taken by their attorney to this restaurant and it was a great experience. And they’re going to come back. And so barter, at the end of the day, does help with word of mouth, advertising, marketing, branding, filling, you know, empty tables, helping get tips, you know, and some business for the staff that’s on hand, and filling their barter account with spending power. So now they’ve earned, and now they say, my employee needs dental work, or my employee needs a new transmission. So I’m going to spend that thousand dollars I just earned, and I’m going to go ahead and maybe go to the dentist or maybe go to the automobile company and get the repair done and use the barter dollars. So let’s say it’s only $500 in barter, simply a 6% transaction fee, $30 in cash, $500 in dental work, or the automobile repair. And now they still have left over $500 from their initial earning of the thousand barter dollars.

Karl: [00:14:11] So I’ve got a question for businesses today…

Laurie: [00:14:23] So how are businesses today using the barter during pandemic?

Karl: [00:14:29] What types of businesses? Services? What types of businesses would most benefit from this?

Laurie: [00:14:35] We have a directory that literally is A to Z. So anything from an art gallery, accommodations, acupuncturist, all the way to theater tickets, yoga, zoo tickets. So it’s literally an A to Z directory. Every business has capacity. So if there’s a dentist or a plastic surgeon or an eyelash extension company, massage therapist that has appointment times, if they’re not at full capacity, you know, if they have an eight hour day that they’re open and they have time slots that are empty, they can simply either call or alert, SBC Wednesdays pretty low, in us filling our bookings. Can you please send a blast out to your network and let them know that we’ll accept some clients and accept the barter currency. And sometimes it may not be that they reached out to us and that’s what our businesses love. It may be that we answer the phone and it may be the plumber who all along for the past several years, it’s his business model. He’ll, except when he has downtime at his convenience, when it works for him, you know, clients we wouldn’t have
had otherwise. Yes, I’ll perform the plumming. Banks online, this barter currency, and uses it as a spending power for when the needs come up. So it may be six months later when he realizes, Oh, you know, I need to go to the dentist, or, Oh, I need to, you know, reward my employees as a retention tool and give them tickets to a concert, or send a gift basket to a client. So this actually becomes a spending account. So it could become an account for business expenses. Some of our clients actually have stretched their marketing dollars, and have used their barter funds that they have received and been building up. And when it comes to, you know, some type of a marketing campaign, they will tap into their, their barter currency, get on a billboard without paying cash, use radio stations.

Karl: [00:16:31] I wonder if that’s something that folks can do today. If they don’t have the capacity, whether it’s a restaurant or massage parlour, in exchange currency for future services, or gift certificates to employees. They may be able to get marketing help, or accounting help from somebody else. Which would lower an expense that they would normally have for that.

Laurie: [00:16:59] Absolutely. It absolutely, it really is just business as usual, you know, provide your services, but just accept the help of an agency that is going to drum up the business for you. And it’s a different form of currency. You know, more than ever. We, I’ve never seen business like this before. I’ve been, we’ve owned Southern Barter Club, SBC Global Barter for 11 years. We’ve been running on seven days with brokering our clients. So we have, with the initial outbreak now things are the supply chains, a little bit improved, but we were getting panicked phone calls where, you know, we need hand sanitizer, we need free, you know, toilet paper and we need masks, facial masks, you know? You know, all these types of things that, because they would go to their supermarket, you know, and the shelves were bare. Okay. And they’d have to wait. And so we have done thousands, probably 10, 20,000 or more, you know, worth of transactions of our clients that we’re picking up and buying un-inflated prices. Very necessary, supplies. Hand sanitizer, facial masks, toilet paper, paper towels, things like that. That they otherwise maybe couldn’t even tap into back in March, by the way.

Rico: [00:18:28] Let me ask you, since you brought that up, about the, the price, because that’s always been a concern of mine with when it comes to barter. Two things, how do you sort of vet the members to make sure that they’re doing the right thing. And how do you make sure that these members, you know, if it’s a $1,400 transmission job, let’s say, that they don’t say it’s a $2,000 transmission job. Because I’ve seen that in other organizations sometimes where the price doesn’t make sense, and it’s still cheaper to go pay cash for it. So how do you protect the membership from those types of things that might happen.

Laurie: [00:19:08] That’s a good concern. And unfortunately, the reality is that there are people who attempt to do that. People are who they are in the cash world. If that’s who they are, and that’s how they do business, they’re that way in the barter world. What we do is we establish ethics where it’s according to the fair MSRP. So if there’s a business out there and you know, their price on the menu is established price on the menu. When you go with dine in that restaurant, that’s the established price. But if you’re going to hire a contractor. In the cash world,
you’re going to hire a contractor and they’re going to come to your home or your business and gives you a price to paint your home, and they tell you it’s $2,000. It wouldn’t be really prudent and really just, you wouldn’t be a good consumer if the first person you just called randomly, you’re going to say, yes, I’m going to pay you $2,000 cash to come paint my house. So there’s an obligation that goes back on the buyer to do their due diligence themselves. We’re a directory, just like the yellow pages has always been for those of us who remember the yellow pages, it was delivered. So we house the directory and we do all we can. We do actually employ, since that’s my background, mystery shopping. So if somebody calls with a concern that like this dry cleaner, this happened actually, we had a dry cleaner in Buckhead that was for years clients of ours. And everybody was happy with their services, but it did take one client that out of there, for whatever reason, out of their little area that they, that they lived in, out by Toko Hills decided that they needed to go into Buckhead. And so they looked in the directory and they went to a dry cleaner in Buckhead. And they came back and they were astonished and they said, what? I’m paying, you know, such and such for my dry cleaning. And why is it so much more expensive there and they’re using the barter system? So we hear what our clients say and we don’t just leave it at that. So what we did was we sent a mystery shopper. So we sent someone who actually went in and they said, Oh, I’m new to the area and I’m going, you know, and I would like to be using for my husband’s shirts. You know, apples to apples, you know, what it was going to be was laundering and dry cleaning of shirts. And, you know, we’re interested in knowing what your prices are and I just wanted to introduce myself. Can you write it down for me? And it was right on his, he also happened to own a gym. And he had some, like trifles or whatever for the gym, can you write it down for me? And he wrote it right down on there. And we found out that the prices were exactly what the prices were. He was Buckhead rent, so the prices were a lot more expensive than the Toco Hills area where he was getting his shirts done. However, I do want to say that several years later, a different company, the same exact thing, a concern happened in Buckhead. And we would, we were actually, well maybe it’s the same thing. It’s Buckhead rent, but three different people brought it up. We sent somebody and sure enough, they had pricing written on the board, you know, behind the counter. And it was like 50 something cents more. And so they were changing the prices and we told them that he needed to do fair trading. And he had all the reasons why he felt justified. And we just said, well, we can’t bring you new clients. We’ll help you spend out your account and close your account. And that’s what we did. So when it’s brought to our attention, we don’t ignore it. But the only way that we can fix the problem is if it’s brought to our attention. So we have a rating system. So when you have done a transaction, finished a transaction at a rate, the person that you just traded with at one to five star. And you know, accountability is a big thing. Knowing that you know the person. I do want to give one other example. We had a Mexican restaurant in Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County that wanted to have the vestibule built and they had received cash prices because again, we always tell everybody. Don’t just go with the first price that somebody puts you in barter, like do your due diligence and get several quotes, you know? So if I’m going to get my house painted or I’m going to build a vestibule, I’m going to get at least three quotes. And if it’s too low? Hmm. Something to think about, right. If it’s too high, well, I don’t want to be taken advantage of. But if it’s right in the middle and it sounds right then that may be. And you have to take into other considerations is, are they using contractors? Are they using
employees? Do they have a warranty with their work? So this Mexican restaurant had, actually, picked up day labor and that’s how they wound up getting their, their vestibule built. So it was different people that were working on it different days, and there was no warranty. And it wasn’t apples to apples when they compared the price that was maybe double the price, but it was with an established company that had employees and it did have a warranty. So, we just have to put the responsibility back on the buyer. Just business as usual in cash business. I’m not going to just go with the first quote. I’m going to get two or three and be an informed consumer.

Rico: [00:24:21] And I like the fact that you have reviews on there and the star rating because transparency, right? Because everyone knows it’s not like, just it’s like there’s the company name attached to the account. So if there’s good transparency, so they’re getting a review and it’s a bad review, whoever is saying it is standing by it. If it’s a great review, they’re standing by it.

Laurie: [00:24:48] Absolutely. One of the things I did want to manage expectations, and I think it’s a simple, very simple illustration, but I think it really does hit home is, if anyone has ever gone into Macy’s as an example with their mindset, I want a size large, Navy Ralph Lauren sweater. Right? They can go into Macy’s or any retail store, and if they’re going to pay full retail, they’ll get a very big variety of sizes, brands, and available options, right? Different experience if I head over to the clearance rack. I still want the Navy blue, Ralph Lauren size large sweater, but it’s only $20 it’s discounted patch. And I’m looking on that rack and I see black, not blue, but then again, it’s$20, it’s on the clearance rack. I’m not paying a hundred retail or I see Calvin Klein, not Ralph Lauren, but it is Navy blue and large and it’s $20 so that’s how I like to manage expectations in our network is we are a clearing house. So it would be unreasonable to think that I’m going to get something on barter when cash is king and it will always be king. You know, it’s an incremental opportunity to hold onto your cash, minimize your cash outlay, and you’ve earned it the same way. So wouldn’t be fair for a hotel owner as an example to say, no, we’re not going to barter on 4th of July and let you book it six months in advance. They wait to the very last minute when they realize that otherwise goes unsold for cash because that becomes perishable, right?

Rico: [00:26:33] As long as you’re setting expectations, that makes sense. People should understand that.

Laurie: [00:26:38] Yes, absolutely.

Karl: [00:26:41] So I’ve got a question. What are the challenges of people? Why don’t more people do this nowadays? I mean, obviously cash, but what do you see as some of the reasons why people don’t find ways to barter more?

Laurie: [00:26:55] I think the biggest, the two biggest things is number one, not knowing that they even have the ability to do it within a structured professional setting. So, you know, somebody could say that, I want you to build me a website and I’ll give you haircuts. And
oftentimes they’ll go ahead and build a website and then the place goes out of business and they’re stuck without payment, you know. And they got the short end of the sick. It also could be the situation where they don’t need a haircut, their daughter owns a salon. So I think most of the time there’s a brick wall when it comes to barter, where they don’t, where most consumers and business owners don’t realize that everybody has capacity. Everybody has something that they really could leverage. Time, talent, resources, something that’s even sitting, collecting dust or locked up in a storage or basement. So even though we’re a barter network for businesses, everybody has their core business that they provide and something in there. Not everything, by the way, like I haven’t in Buckhead, we have a center that will do laser hair removal and tattoo removal and weight loss. But they’re very clear that they do a hundred percent barter. They list everything in the directory, and we will recommend those services on a hundred percent barter. So everybody has to provide something at a hundred percent barter. However, they don’t have to provide everything at a hundred percent barter. So they list that we do. If you go to my website, you’ll see we do Botox and other types of services, but we’re not going to do Juvederm and Botox on barter. Now, if we don’t have that otherwise available on barter, and someone says, Oh, I see that that’s what they do, but I want it on a hundred percent barter. We could let them know that look, anything else that they do on a hundred percent barter or take advantage of it, they’re playing by the rules because they offer all these things on a hundred percent barter. If we can’t source it for you on a hundred percent barter, you can make an offer and ask them, can I do it with 50% with my barter currency, and then at least compensate you since you didn’t enter this in your profile as an offering. Can I, you know, can you accept 50% in cash? And so that’s not our practice, but it does happen on occasion and we’re fine with that when they’re already offering something else on full barter.

Karl: [00:29:23] One of the things I think that I, that I think that I’m hearing, I want to highlight that business owners today that might be struggling with what fundamentally is demand for customers, but they have capacity. Is this something where they can at least for a period of time, offer up some of that excess capacity, bank up barter dollars that as things return to normal. They may back up how much, you know, their capacities are to fill up, but they have barter dollars that they can use to fulfill other expenses in their business. Is something like that possible?

Laurie: [00:30:02] Absolutely Karl. So right off the bat, anyone that needs help in whatever way, so they need clients that, you know, maybe they have their brick and mortar, that everything has always been done brick and mortar. Maybe it’s an, I don’t know, but let’s say it was a some type of a yoga exercise class and now they can’t do that okay? So if they were in the barter system, and they have no barter dollars, and they now realize, wow, I have to figure this out, I have to adapt and integrate a new way of doing business. So now we can say to them, well maybe you have something here where you can now offer your yoga classes online. So let me introduce you to a company that can build an app for you. Let me introduce you to a company. That could, you know, build your website or produce your videos for you. You know, and now advertising that you can have on the radio that’s saying that, you know, we have virtual yoga classes, and they could just cash out them and to have entrance to be able to, now, you know, all do this
together. I’m again, just thinking a little bit outside the box, trying to make it an example, but if she doesn’t have barter dollars she’s already earned, that’s okay. We at, during this pandemic, we’re giving lines of credit. So during this pandemic, she could now say, you know, if I need $5,000 SBC, we can give them a line of credit for $5,000 and how are they going to pay me back? Well, they’re doing virtual classes for yoga, then let us promote it. And if you have capacity for 12 people online to be on your yoga class and they’re paying you cash to be in that yoga class, can you take two people that will pay you in barter dollars? And we’ll fill that class up with the two people on barter. And then when things settle and to the new norm, and there’s other ways that she can earn the barter, we’ll help her come up with the ways of paying back, you know, that. And she could think outside the box and say, well, you know what? Yoga is my business that’s struggling. I need to get that up and running. But, you know, I also sell Mary Kay cosmetics. You know, I also, you know, can do tutoring. Like we’ll help them think outside the box and tap into and leverage resources.

Karl: [00:32:13] That’s fabulous. Well, we’re coming to the end of our time and I just wanted to ask if people have questions or wanted to learn more, how can they reach you?

Laurie: [00:32:24] So our website is SouthernBarterClub.com and SBCGlobalBarter.com. And so they could email us from there. Our office number is 678-547-0900. And so they can call, send a message and set up a complimentary consultation. And we are here for the community. So, you know, if this is a time, more than ever, that we have to really just be a resource to one another. We also, you know, I mentioned to you, we’ll give lines of credit, but we’re also, with the membership fee, we’re doing it at 50%, so it’s normally 299. But they said we had created a code called, CSage and yes, thank you. And so that’s 149 instead of the 299. So definitely, what I’m hoping that everybody gets out of this more than anything is even if they don’t work with Southern Barter club, start slowly even with just leveraging what you have, your time, your resources, your assets, and don’t be afraid to approach another business owner you want to do business with. That’s your neighbor or colleague or someone you’ve always worked with. Because no commerce at all is, you know, a big difference from, well, look, I could give you this or I could, you know, and there’s some activity going on and you’re not stuck and staying in stuff. So if anything, we hope there’s an awareness to bartering and trading.

Karl: [00:33:56] Sure. Well, I want to, I want to thank you very much, Laurie, for joining us. It’s Laurie Sossa the founder of the Southern Barter Club. Just exploring different ways that businesses can pivot and find ways to use their capacity and skills to earn a different type of dollar, barter dollar that they can use in other ways going forward in their business. So keep their employees engaged, find ways to reward people. And I liked the example you gave, you know, maybe building out a new capability on online sales now for future exchange of services where you could use the barter dollars for something else to cover an expense in the future. So really good tips and just wanted to let people know there’s so many different options in how to navigate and pivot through this pandemic. Thank you very much for that.

Laurie: [00:34:54] Absolutely. Thank you for having me on as a guest.

Karl: [00:34:58] You’re absolutely welcome. I’d like to say I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree. We’re here to help business owners figure out ways to improve the value of their business so they can successfully exit it when the time is right. We help with selling and buying businesses. Rico, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you have coming up and going on?

Rico: [00:35:20] Sure. So I publish Peachtree Corners magazine and you’ll, we are in the midst of writing stories for this upcoming June – July issue. That’s going to be out, hitting the post office on June the fifth. So it’ll be out for that June, July. Good solid run issue. Similar to what we did last issue. We’re still printing, we’re still mailing 18,800 copies every household, in the city of Peachtree Corners, and then some are like Norcross. So some good stories we’re working on about how people are handling this situation, how they’re opening up their business and some of the stories as well in there. So we’re doing that. And I’ve quite frankly, I’ve been busy too, Mighty Rockets, my company that does digital marketing, and we’ve been been picking up several company Facebook pages, LinkedIn pages to manage. We’ve been doing a lot of video work through these video chats. And creating good, some good quality video content for companies, even doing it online like this. So it’s worked out really well. So I’ve been busy. I am thank thankful, for the way it is and thankful for all the other people working in this stuff so that we can all stay busy.

Karl: [00:36:34] Yeah, absolutely. Well, I’m just impressed while people are working together to get through this. So continue doing that. Stay safe, everyone and I think as you take some of these advice and tips, find ways to pivot your business, stay successful. Thank you. Have a great day.

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The Colorful Woven Threads that Make Up the Fabric of Our City

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Jay Patton, Traditional Master Barber

Gwinnett County is getting more and more culturally and racially diverse. Remember the old adage ‘Variety is the spice of life’? In today’s climate of social unrest and world-wide protests for racial justice, we should move towards healing by getting to know our neighbors and broaching some delicate conversations. It can be scary and cathartic — and it can be a little heartbreaking, too.

The heartbeat of Peachtree Corners is strong because of the amazing people who live and work here. I reached out to some from a variety of backgrounds. Each of their accounts will have you shouting, Vive la différence!

Jay Patton

Jay Patton

Traditional Master Barber Jay Patton moved to Peachtree Corners two years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He noted that his hometown is less diverse, primarily Caucasian, and he’s been enjoying the “good mix” of people here.

“In Minnesota, growing up, there was more racial tension,” Patton said. He felt a larger divide between the privileged and the underprivileged. “There’s less opportunity for certain people in certain states. You come down here and if you have a good credit score, you blend in as long as you’re putting out good vibrations,” he explained.

At your service

After working near Perimeter Mall for five years at Gino’s Classic Barbershop, he decided to venture out on his own. “One of my customers told me about Blaxican,” Patton said. The fusion restaurant serves food inspired by Southern soul cooking and Mexican classics. “Being biracial, I thought that concept was catchy. I came here, drove around a bit and I felt good energy,” he recounted.

Patton opened Traditional Shave Masters Barbershop at 5260 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. “This area is blowing up. I think it’s going to be bigger than Sandy Springs,” he said. He likes the plans for the area.

The barbershop offers “male services — straight edge razor work, blades, steam towels, shaving beard work. With different packages to choose from — like The Distinguished Man, The Exquisite Man, The Classic Man — there’s something for everyone. Female clients with short hairstyles are welcome too,” Patton said. “We have competitive prices and talented, diverse barbers.”

 Things had started picking up well, “and now we’re going through this Corona stuff. It’s pretty challenging,” he shared.

Cutting through racial lines

Patton prides himself on being able to serve the whole community, no matter what race, background or ethnicity. “Most shops are racially separated. People are more comfortable coming in when they see people who look like them,” he said. “I want everyone to look in the window and feel like they can come in. I play jazz music. Everyone likes the smooth, mellow stuff.”

Men have different ways to describe how they want their hair and beards trimmed, depending on their ethnicity, where they’re from, race and even social status, according to Patton. “It’s up to the barber to ask the right questions to really understand what the client wants so you can hook him up,” he said.

He noted that since the rock and roll era, when men grew their hair out, the white barber shop kind of died off as they gravitated to salons. “But now the traditional barber is back. It’s becoming more appealing to all men, of all races,” Patton explained. “Around Atlanta, men want to look good. That’s a good thing!”

No barber school teaches how to cut across racial lines, he said. “My instructor was an old school Irish dude. It’s all hair, but the way you approach it is different. One might use different tools.”

Wherever he worked, he sought to cut hair he was unfamiliar with and learn to cut all types of hair. “I’ve been to a Russian shop, a Puerto Rican shop, a black shop. I made sure to get out of my comfort zone,” Patton said.

Patton could pass for either white or black. “The way I look, people don’t know. I’m chameleon-like. My father is Creole and my mother is Puerto Rican. That’s a loaded soup bowl,” he chuckled. “I had a mother who respected me and explained everything. She watered my seed and I had self-esteem. I love all people. We’re all connected. We’re all on this Earth together.”

He thinks a lot of people would be surprised if they did their 23andMe genetic reports. “I did it and I was mind-blown,” he reported. “I grew up Puerto Rican, but in actuality, I started off Indonesian! I have some Egyptian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, British, Irish, German, Apache Indian, Sanda Gambian — things I had to look up! It was surprising to me. It opened up my eyes.”

He added that people mistake him for Egyptian all the time, “so it was interesting to find out I have some Egyptian in me. I love telling the dudes in Duluth, I started out Asian!”

Still, Patton said, at the end of the day, it’s all the indoctrination and cultural stuff that gets in the way. “We’re all the same color on the inside,” he said. “When we’re little, we play and hang out together. Somewhere in the mix, we get taught all these differences.”

All connected

“As soon as we figure it out and start loving each other again, it’s going to be alright,” he continued. “The message has to be delivered differently to the different communities, but it’s the same. I have to empathize with their situation first, then I can flip it around to some other perspectives.”

Patton believes that having exposure to different kinds of people is good and makes things easier. “Because of where I’ve come from, I’m able to communicate with different races,” he said. “My struggles have shaped and humbled me. I’m able to be around a lot of diverse cultures, probably more so than most people. That’s always helped me; I can mingle through racial lines.”

“Asian, Mexican, white, black — I see more people living harmoniously here. Maybe it’s southern hospitality, but people tend to be more polite here. They smile and try to be nice to each other, and that means everything. Being courteous is an initial connection with people.”

“I feel like I have a broader truth, a natural perspective in the spiritual world,” Patton continued. “We are all connected, but some people like the divisions. They’re capitalizing off of us: the red, the blue, the white, the black, and all that junk. As soon as we figure it out and start loving each other again, it’s going to be alright.”

Dr. April Hang, PharmD

Dr. April Hang, PharmD

Dr. April Hang, PharmD, hails from Petersburg, Virginia and is of Filipino heritage. Her dad was in the Army, so her family traveled a lot. She spent a long time in Germany, where she learned to speak a little of the language, and she studied at Virginia Commonwealth University – Medical College of Virginia School of Pharmacy.

Dr. Hang is Catholic and attends St. Monica Church. Her husband is Buddhist and their three children have been baptized in the Catholic faith.

She opened Peachtree Pharmacy at 5270 Peachtree Parkway in 2012. It’s a compounding pharmacy were medications are customized.“Our clientele is diverse. We serve Hispanics, African Americans, white Americans, Asians. We have seniors all the way down to babies and pets that we take care of, ”Dr.Hang said.“We offer compliance packaging for convenience. It’s helpful for seniors. We put medications in labeled blister packs. They can be organized by day or sorted by morning, afternoon, and evening if necessary.”

And, she said, Peachtree Pharmacy delivers, which is especially important for high-risk patients.

“Compounding is an out-of-the box option for patients who have exhausted all their options and want to try something else. We do carry some traditional medications as well,” she explained. “It takes time to make everything. You have to make sure all the ingredients are included. You’re not just pouring pills out and counting them. You actually have to melt something down, make lollipops, gummies, lozenges or capsules. We have to do our math calculations carefully to make it the exact strength the physician wrote it for.”

Mom-preneur

“I’m first generation American, as well as the first person to start my own business in my family,” Dr. Hang said. She attributes her drive to her dad, who always endeavors to find a solution.

She said that she feels welcome here. “It’s like a small town. That’s why I love Peachtree Corners,” she said. “A lot of our patients are like family to us. This is a great city, a great place to have a small business, especially with Peachtree Corners expanding.”

THC and CBD advocate

One of the things Dr. Hang has gotten involved with is the effort in Georgia to make low THC oil (less than 5%) available to patients suffering from chronic pain, cancer, PTSD, HIV, autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s and other conditions. “I feel like [CBD/THC] oil can help several patients,” she said. “It’s yet another alternative for people.”

She said that doctors can help a patient get a medical card for it. “Everything has been passed in Georgia, and there is a THC oil registry here now, but there’s no access. I think there are over 14,000 patients registered. They have the card, but there is no place where they can go buy it yet,” Dr. Hang said. “We’re just waiting for the infrastructure so people can start applying for manufacture and distribution.”

Unfortunately, the process to get access has been delayed due to COVID-19. It’s likely to be another year or two before access is available for patients.

Diversity at the pharmacy

Dr. Hang welcomes students of diverse backgrounds, some from out of state, who do rotations at her pharmacy. “Most of the time, I say ‘yes,’ because the students are up-to-date on the new things. They keep you updated,” she said. “I try to make it practical for them. They work in the store. I take them to a marketing event. I like to do a couple of little health fairs. I mix it up for them so that they see what we actually do. I didn’t get that when I was in pharmacy school.”

There have been times when a staff member has had an unpleasant interaction and they feel that some racism was directed towards them. “I have one full-time pharmacist, three part-time pharmacists and three full-time pharmacy technicians. One is Asian and the others are African American,” she said.

“When COVID-19 had just started [appearing here], there was a client looking for N95 masks; she wasn’t a regular. She was upset we didn’t have any N95 masks. She told my pharmacist, who is black, “I don’t know what you have to say that is going to carry any value.”

  As Dr. Hang was cleaning the store one day, an older lady came in, looked around and asked, “Why is everybody black in here?” She said, “I don’t see anything wrong with that. There are standards and testing that you have to pass in order to be in this position. Everyone here is qualified.” Dr. Hang added that she has never had issues with racial tensions personally. “It’s a little disheartening that it still occurs,” she said.

She suggested a city-wide cultural festival to help improve racial tensions. “If we can learn more about our neighbors, we’ll be able to understand them better. There are a variety of cultural backgrounds in Peachtree Corners, so let’s celebrate them!”

“When I’m at Peachtree Pharmacy, I post on Facebook, “Come by and see me. Come give me a hug!” Customers come in and tell me, “I miss you so much.” It’s nice to catch up with a lot of the regulars,” she said. “I always post: Free Hugs not Drugs!”

Maurie Ladson

Maurie and Ron Ladson

Maurie Ladson is a Program Director at Corners Outreach, an organization providing a multigenerational approach to helping underserved children with specialized tutoring. Parents are given assistance with career paths, workshops, unemployment and anything they may need to navigate in the education system. Their goal is to achieve a 100% high school graduation rate among the students they serve.

Ladson clarified underserved as “communities or people living amongst us who don’t have all the necessary resources.” She explained, “They may not be earning a living wage. A lot of them are immigrant families. There’s a challenge with education and the language.”

Elementary, my dear

By focusing on elementary school students, the intention is to prepare them for success in middle school and high school. “Then hopefully, to higher learning, either a four-year education or, sometimes, they prefer to do some kind of trade,” Ladson said.

“We’re not focused on one demographic,” she continued. “We welcome all the children who need assistance. The mix varies. In Norcross and on our DeKalb side, we have a high percentage of Latino children. At our Meadow Creek location, there’s a mix of children — Indian, American, Hispanic.”

The Corners Outreach offices are located in Peachtree Corners. Ladson said that Executive Director Larry Campbell liked the name, “as the goal is to touch “every corner” of the community.” The organization partners with Title 1 schools in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, including Peachtree Corners and the surrounding areas, and helps 450 families/children.

“We work with them during the normal school year; we provide after-school tutoringfor two and a half to three hours. We’re supplementing and enhancing what the school is teaching,” Ladson said. “There’s a big focus on reading comprehension and math. We then provide nine weeks of summer camp which focus on reading, math, games and a craft.”

School principals identify the children in most need. There is also input from counselors, teachers, teacher liaisons, center coordinators and ESOL [English to speakers of other languages] coordinators. “We also have volunteers that play a key role in our success. We’re so thankful,” she said. “Schools like Wesleyan, GAC, Perimeter Church and individuals in our wonderful Peachtree Corners community come out and volunteer their time.”

Masks with a purpose

Due to COVID-19, Corners Outreach was unable to tutor or assist families in person for some time. “We began communication via Zoom, WhatsApp, video chat, telephone calls. There was a big need to assist in setting up Internet. Many of the families didn’t have it,” she continued.

“Our organization was able to place Chromebooks in the community for children to be able to do their homework. It was still challenging because in a lot of cases they’re sharing either a phone or a hot spot. With two to four children in the family of various ages, needing to do homework with one device, that was difficult.”

To help underemployed parents, the organization developed Masks with a Purpose. After surveying the parents, they found they had 101 mothers with sewing skills that could be used to provide much-needed masks in the community.

“They sew masks and earn a living wage, $4 per mask,” Ladson said. “We launched the Corners Store on June 22 so people can go online and purchase a mask to support our cause.” To purchase a mask, visit cornersoutreach.org. If you don’t need a mask, you can help by giving a donation.

“We’re looking to donate 1,000 masks to farmworkers and 10,000 masks to children in poverty, who can’t afford to buy three or four masks or have the throwaways,” she said. It’s a great cause,” she said. You can donate masks to the effort through their website.

Beauty in all colors

“I’m Mexican American,” Ladson said. “I’ve been in Peachtree Corners for 20 years. My husband is black, dark-skinned African American. People might look at us a little differently. I’m different and I’m good with it.” She and her husband Ron recently celebrated 20 years of marriage.

Having frequented several places of worship over the years, they most recently identify as Protestant and have been attending North End Collective.

Ladson said she witnessed some social injustice in the workplace during her career in banking. A Peruvian teller was the number one salesperson in the bank, exceeding her numbers, yet it was an under-performing white American teller who inexplicably was moved to another location and offered a raise.

“I think in Georgia, Atlanta and in Peachtree Corners, we still have room to grow,” she continued. “I’ve seen a different level of acceptance, if we’re going to call it improvement, absolutely.”

Miriam and Ed Carreras

Miriam and Eddie Carreras
Miriam and Eddie Carreras

By pure coincidence, Miriam and Ed Carreras shared a similar history predating their marriage of 48 years. They both left Cuba with their families at a young age, and within five to seven years, they became naturalized U.S. citizens.

After a 20-year career as a microbiologist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Miriam is now a Realtor with RE/MAX Prestige. “I guess, given my name and former clients, I get quite a few referrals from Spanish-speaking buyers. I would say most of my clients right now are Hispanic,” she said. Hispanics, who can identify as any race, make up 15.2% of the population in Peachtree Corners.

Miriam works in residential real estate, both on listings — people selling their homes — as well as helping buyers find their dream homes. Being bilingual, she is a huge asset to the community. She is able to help English and Spanish speakers navigate the sometimes-challenging waters of real estate.

A home is one of the biggest and most important investments a family will ever make, and Miriam is happy to provide her clients with excellent customer service, every step of the way.

Ed was an attorney with The Coca Cola Company for about 20 years. He retired from the company in 2003 and joined a law firm. He retired from the firm in February of this year. “We were supposed to travel, and now we’re homebound because of COVID-19,” he said.

As an attorney, much of his work was international. “I dealt with a number of countries, like Japan, countries in Europe, in Latin America, and so on,” Ed shared.

He served on the Board of Goodwill of North Georgia for a number of years and was Chair of the Board for two years. “Goodwill had a significant relationship with the Hispanic community. One of the things I got involved in was developing a robust system for their strategic plan,” Ed said.

In studying the projection of population changes, he and his fellow board members identified the important growth of the Hispanic community and the need for more Hispanic contacts and people with language skills in the organization.

A home in Peachtree Corners

The Carreras family built their home in Neely Farm in 1998. Both are happy with the amount of diversity in Peachtree Corners. “I think there is a good mix of people. You see a nice diversity of cultures represented here,” Ed said. “My experience is more in the restaurants since I like eating. We’ve gone to a lot of different types.”

“I think there’s pretty good diversity,” Miriam added. “Even in our subdivision, we’re diverse.”

They haven’t had any negative experiences because of their ethnicity in recent years. As a teenager, Ed recalled an incident at a restaurant in Miami. His family was speaking Spanish, and a man at a nearby table addressed them, saying, “Go back to Cuba!”

“My father was surprised. He turned around and in perfect English said, “I’m sorry, does it bother you if we speak Spanish?” The guy ended up apologizing,” Ed remembered. “I was 13 or 15 at the time. It stuck in my mind because my father handled it so perfectly. The guy said, “You speak English very well.” My father said, “Yes, I was educated in the United States. I went to an Ivy League school.” The guy just kept shrinking.”

Ed said that everyone carries prejudices based on faulty stereotypes. “From my own experience, the best way to eliminate prejudice is to be made aware that the stereotype supporting the prejudice is not correct,” he explained. “Anything that helps an individual realize that the stereotype is wrong should help in reducing prejudice.”

“Education highlighting non-stereotypical members of a group could help,” Ed suggested, “as well as the promotion of events that bring members of diverse groups together in a social setting.”

Joe Sawyer

Joe and Kimberly Sawyer

As the city is building a physical pedestrian bridge over Peachtree Parkway, resident of 25 years and equity warrior, President and Cofounder of Bridges Peachtree Corners Joe Sawyer has been launching intensive volunteer efforts to build metaphorical bridges between races and social classes in the city. “I guess you can say it’s about black and white; we’re trying to bring equality up to where it needs to be,” he shared.

Bridges is a non-profit funded by grants and generous donations from the community. The board is made up of a diverse group who share Sawyer’s mission to close the gap between the affluent and the less affluent parts of town. They’ve been working on racial diversity and economic disparity since 2013.

Through school counselors, they identify needs at Peachtree Elementary and other area schools, assisting in any way they can — from electric pencil sharpeners in the classroom to Christmas dinners for families. They’re currently partnering with xfinity to provide internet access so children can do their schoolwork at home during the pandemic.

Affectionately known as Preacher Man, Sawyer would love to help more areas of the city reach their potential. He espouses the Holcomb Bridge Corridor Project , the city’s plan to revamp the area, and hopes it will get underway soon. “We’ve done the easy part, the Forum and Town Center area. Now let’s roll up our sleeves and do the hard part,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer comes clean

This is a man who will “tell it like it is.” He is refreshingly unafraid to level with you. Sawyer attends Life Center Apostolic Church in Dunwoody. His faith shines through in everything he touches, including his company name of 20 years, Alpha Omega Carpet Cleaning, inspired by the book of Revelation.

Since many are home with more time than usual on their hands, the pandemic has Sawyer busier than ever. “I build relationships with my customers. By the time I leave their house, I’m their friend,” he said. He also prides himself on his effective carpet cleaning services, which avoid harsh chemicals, as he is a cancer survivor.

The United Nations

Together with his wife Kimberly of 31 years (who is white), Sawyer has raised his two daughters, now 29 and 23. “She’s my backbone. She keeps me grounded,” he said. His daughters are now raising his five grandkids in Peachtree Corners.

The Sawyers have two blond, blue-eyed grandchildren and three who are light skinned black. “I’ve got everybody in my family — we have the United Nations over here,” Sawyer laughed.

In 1992 things were more challenging for biracial couples. Sawyer’s in-laws didn’t allow him into their home until two years after the marriage; now they’re the best of friends, despite many earlier battles. “They had to make sure I was going to take care of their daughter. I think that was one of the biggest issues,” he said. “Mixed marriages are more common now, and more likely to be accepted by both families, but you still have issues with certain people. I just try to keep it real and be myself.”

Sawyer shared a story from his senior year in high school (1982), when he was given an ultimatum: stop dating his white girlfriend or quit the football team. The young lady’s mom called the school because they had published a picture of them in the school magazine.

The girl’s mom had known about their relationship. In fact, they were among the few biracial couples at the time who did not hide it. But when other parents saw the photo, it became a problem. Sawyer elected to pass on what may have been a lucrative career and quit the team.

Sawyer noted that things have changed for the better. “It’s a new generation, we’re improving a whole lot,” he said. He’s unaware of any negative issues experienced by his daughters about being biracial.

While Peachtree Corners is very diverse, Sawyer said he still experiences some people who are prejudiced. During a recent job, a client had left the door open for him. It saddened him to learn that his client’s neighbor reached out to inform her, saying, “There’s a black man in your house.”

“[Racism] is still there, but overall, I think Peachtree Corners is a welcoming community. You might have some people stuck in their ways, but you just have to learn to overlook them. We stopped and we said a prayer for the lady,” Sawyer said.

He believes the cause of divisiveness is that some people don’t want to lose control of what they’ve got. “As long as we feel that one race is better than the other, we’re always going to have a problem. Both communities have work to do. Now is the perfect time for us to work on race relations in America,” Sawyer affirmed.

Preacher Man

When he was little, Sawyer told his dad, “I want to be like you when I grow up.” His father replied, “You don’t want to be like me, son, you want to be like Jesus.”

“So that’s what I try to do. As soon as we realize that we’re all made in God’s image, we’re going to be OK,” he said. “I don’t hate anybody. I try to get along with everybody. Don’t let politicians divide us any more than we’re divided. That’s the biggest problem. We listen to what’s on TV. I don’t need anybody to tell me who I like and who I don’t like.”

 “We have to come together,” he continued. “I’m thankful for the friends the Lord has put in my life. We have to change our perception of our neighbors. Not all people of a different race are bad. Be there for your friends.”

Sawyer added that everyone needs to work on racism as a society. “Both the white and black communities have work to do. Now is the perfect time for us to work on race relations in America. The whole world sees what’s going on, politicians fighting over this and that. We don’t have any togetherness,” he said. “Let’s take a stand and let’s be one. We claim to be one nation under God but how can we be under God if we’re at each other’s throats?”

Father Darragh Griffith

Rev. Darragh Griffith

Rev. Darragh Griffith is originally from Dublin, Ireland and has been in the U.S. for 24 years. Following 10 years at Holy Family in Marietta, he’s been the pastor at Mary Our Queen (MOQ) — the only Catholic church in Peachtree Corners — for four years.

“We welcome the community to come see our new church. It’s a beautiful, traditional church based on Saint Gerard’s in Buffalo. If you’re exploring questions about the Catholic faith, we’re here,” Father Griffith offered.

Though the present church is just a year old, the parish has been here since 1998. The pews, stained-glass windows and altars were taken from the old church in Buffalo, New York.

Mass during the pandemic

“We’ve been live-streaming masses on YouTube and our website. But now we’re back,” Father Griffith said. The church has an outdoor mass on Sundays at 8:30 a.m. for people who feel more comfortable outside, and services in the church on Sundays at 11 a.m. and Saturdays at 5 p.m.

Masks and social distancing are expected at the indoor services. Seating is roped off to allow for every second pew to be occupied. “It’s working out for this time,” he said.

 The parish

The makeup of the MOQ parish is quite diverse. “We’ve got people from every continent. We have a lot of Asian people from Vietnam, for example. People from the African continent, Nigeria and other countries, Hispanic and white Anglo, as well,” shared Father Griffith.

MOQ provides spiritual and financial outreach to Peachtree Corners families through The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP). Volunteers make home visits with families and individuals who call the helpline seeking food or financial help.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, MOQ SVDP has assisted over 150 individuals. The help line number is 678-892-6163.

The domestic church

For Father Griffith, what happens at home is as important as what happens at church. “In these times, I believe the home is crucial. Parents have a great and joyful responsibility. The family has never been as important, from where we stand, as it is now,” he said. “That’s where you can lead by witness to your children. Not so much by words, but by example. The family is crucial.”

He said that the church has always taught that the home is the domestic church. “The home is where parents hand on the faith to their children. I think that’s crucial,” Father Griffith said. “My work, the church’s work is not going to bear fruit if it’s not happening at home.”

Spreading God’s love

“It’s sad to see some of the things that we see on TV, some of the violence. It is kind of sad and disturbing, what’s happening,” Father Griffith said. “The church believes in treating everyone with respect and love. We’re a universal church. We love and accept everyone. In the Catholic faith, we’ve got people of all sorts of cultures, backgrounds, traditions.”

For a solution to today’s troubled climate, Father Griffith leads with the suggestion that we respect one another. “We’re all made in the image of God. Everyone is precious in God’s eyes. Every person is created through God’s love,” he said.

Father Griffith said that he knows it’s been hard during the pandemic for people to meet up, interact and socialize. “If we can get together and have that as a base, we’ll not be afraid of each other,” he said. “And love, that’s what Jesus spoke about, loving all people. That’s what our Catholic faith teaches us.”

Faith is critical for Father Griffith. “If we’re living our faith, that informs our decisions and our behavior. As it says in Scripture, our lives should be based on faith and our relationship with God,” he said. “Hopefully people will be open to God and to His Spirit at this time.”

Karl Barham

Karl Barnham

Karl Barham, President of Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta, Peachtree, started the business with his wife, Ann, two years ago. They own a local office of the franchise in Peachtree Corners. 

“We relocated from New York City, got married and started a family here,” he said. “We found Peachtree Corners to be a fabulous place to live, work and raise a family.” They’re a Christian family and attend Close Perimeter Church.

Barham explained business brokers specialize in buying and selling businesses. “We do small, neighborhood businesses — any size, up to maybe about $25 million. We arrange to find the buyers and we help them get the deal done.”

Growing up black

“I’m first generation in the U.S. My family is from Jamaica, the third poorest county in the Caribbean. They came here, raised their kids and we’ve done well,” Barham said. “But I do see, for a lot of people who are very specifically black, they’re not looking for handouts or anything, they just want the proverbial knee off the neck.”

“When you’re in a minority, you always think about race,” he continued. “Jamaica is a mostly black country. When I spend time there, everyone looks like me. In the U.S., it’s the reverse, and as you move up in corporate America, it’s even more of the reverse. It’s always there to think about.”

Barham’s dream and hope for the future is that his kids don’t have to deal with the kind of discrimination that he’s seen in his lifetime. “Changes need to happen in this generation. Will it change in my lifetime? I don’t know. I thought it would,” he said. “When I was a young kid, my dad was saying the same things. I said, “Oh, by the time I’m your age, that stuff will all be solved.” I was wrong. It isn’t.”

Starting a conversation

When Barham received inquiries on what people could do in their companies about racial justice, he thought it would be a good topic for the Capitalist Sage podcasts that he regularly hosts with Peachtree Corners Magazine publisher Rico Figliolini. So, they began a series of podcasts about diversity and race.

“It’s been a topic discussed nationally, and we said, ‘what about here? Is there anything going on locally?’” he said. They produced three episodes, with two to three guests on each. “We talked about racial and social justice in leadership and in the local community,” Barham said. “We had stay-at-home moms, elected officials, church leaders and faith leaders, just talking about what it means and how they’ve been reacting to what’s happening with Black Lives Matter. We asked: what can citizens can do individually? What can local leaders do? We just wanted to start a dialogue.”

Barham said that one of the things that’s interesting about the South is that racism is part of the history that people don’t talk about because they’re trying to be polite, yet “there’s this undercurrent of race in a lot of conversations.”

“It wasn’t too long ago in the South that some [schools] had a black prom and a white prom,” he said. “Friends are so segregated; they get together sometimes for sports, school and some social activities, but they go home to dinner and they go to church in very separate worlds. They don’t get a chance to really learn about each other, so misunderstandings can happen more easily.”

Barham shared a little game he plays. “Whenever anyone talks about race — black, white — it’s hard; it’s too charged. I change “black” to “short”. If I were to say: What if short people, anybody under 5’10”, are not able to get all of the same opportunities as everyone else? A lot of people would be REALLY upset.”

“If I was sitting at a party and people were talking about, “Oh, those short people…”, I might say, “Hey, time out! Half my friends are short.”

A note of hope

Barham said he sees a lot of people coming together to help advance social justice, including racial justice. “I think we should lift those people up. We should elect them to office,” he said.

And he sees a lot of things to be hopeful for. “When I look at the community here, I see more people of color starting businesses,” Barham reported. “In the last 10 deals that we’ve done, more than 50% of them had a person of color on one side of the deal or the other. Things are changing in society — and things can and will continue to get better.”

Diverse perspectives, the same conclusion

It’s easy to see why niche.com gives Peachtree Corners an A+ for diversity. Let’s move forward holding hands (figuratively, of course), leaving injustice behind and making the fabric of Peachtree Corners stronger and more beautiful than ever before.

“We must continue to go forward as one people, as brothers and sisters.” ~ Rep. John Lewis

Vitals

From the United States Census Bureau’s QuickFacts about Peachtree Corners, it’s easy to glean some of the latest statistics about the elusive 16.23 square miles that constitute the largest city in Gwinnett county. I say“elusive” as many citizens might have trouble envisioning our city’s borders. In our defense, it was incorporated just eight years ago, on July 1, 2012.

What makes our community a Top 10 best suburb, and one of the best places to live in the State of Georgia—besides quality education, low crime rate, desirable cost of living, employment, access to amenities and general livability? The great diversity in housing options, places to worship, the cultures represented here, the businesses and the amazing residents we share our community with, of course.

Population: 43,905

Median Household Income: $67,949

Poverty Rate: 9.9%

Employment Rate: 71.7%

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Business

City of Peachtree Corners to celebrate safety-conscious businesses

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The City of Peachtree Corners is preparing a list of all local businesses practicing the safety measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Those businesses taking steps to keep citizens healthy will be published on the city website, in the Shop and Dine app, and in the monthly business newsletter as part of the city’s “Stay Healthy” campaign.

The Stay Healthy campaign is getting creative in its approach to public service announcements related to Covid19. The city is working to promote staying healthy through the use of comic book superheroes and popular TV show characters. In the coming weeks, expect to see banners, signs, posters and billboards, as well as social media posts spreading the message to wash hands frequently, wear face coverings, and practice social distancing.

Take part in the campaign! If you operate a safe business, let Jennifer Howard from the city office know so it can be added to the list of safety-conscious businesses in the city. Let the community know what steps you are taking to keep your business, patrons, and employees healthy.

Source:

Jennifer Howard, Economic Development Manager- City of Peachtree Corners

Email all entries to jhoward@peachtreecornersga.gov

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Business

Peachtree Corners Assistant City Manager Chosen for 2021 Leadership Gwinnett Class

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Peachtree Corners Assistant City Manager, Brandon Branham is among 42 local leaders chosen for the 2021 Leadership Gwinnett Class. He will begin the nine month program in August.

Brandon Branham

Established in 1985, Leadership Gwinnett was created to ensure that the community’s most influential leaders are knowledgeable about issues pertaining to the county and region. The class will take an in-depth look at the many sectors of Gwinnett – infrastructure, economics, education, health and human services, justice and regional relations.

“We’re very proud that Mr. Branham was selected for this year’s class,” said Mayor Mike Mason. “Leadership Gwinnett has a great track record of success in leadership development. Those chosen for the class learn a tremendous amount about the many aspects of leadership as well as about our county and region. Perhaps one real benefit is the life-time relationships participants develop. This can only help our city as we face the challenges of the future.”

The program includes an opening retreat, seven learning days, monthly study groups, tours and hands-on experiences within the county along with a closing retreat. The class will study topics such as leadership in a world class community, infrastructure, economics, education, health & human services, and will participate in study groups, exclusive tours and hands-on experiences.

To ensure a well-rounded class, Leadership Gwinnett uses a selection process based on occupation, qualifications and a representation that reflects a cross section of the county.

“It is an honor to be selected to be a part of the Leadership Gwinnett class,” said Branham. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the people and issues that will shape our county’s future and the chance to network with some of Gwinnett’s top leaders.”

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