Weekend TODAY

The power of community: Erica Hill is moved by the heart behind 'Main Street Makeover'

Feb. 2, 2014 at 11:16 AM ET

Erica Hill in one of the toy aisles at Veach's Toy Station in Richmond, Ind.
TODAY
Erica Hill in one of the toy aisles at Veach's Toy Station in Richmond, Ind.

One of the best parts of my job is the people I meet. Most months I am in at least two different states, and as diverse as this country is, one thing I’ve found in nearly every city and town is a strong sense of community.

Whether it’s a neighborhood in New York City or a small town in the Midwest, people care about their neighbors, and they care about their local businesses. That connection is part of what inspired the “Main St Makeover” series for my producer, Samantha, and me. 

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We love to tell people’s stories, and we love to remind people about the many wonderful places across this country. That said, we were blown away by the support of the communities in both Nashville, Tenn., and in Richmond, Ind.

Video: In the second part of a two-part series, one expert lent his expertise to two very different businesses with one common problem: they are losing money. TODAY’s Erica Hill reports.

Nashville’s Biscuit Love food truck is just 18 months old. It’s easy to fall in love with the couple behind it, Karl and Sarah Worley. They love what they do, they adore one another, and they aren’t afraid to work hard to achieve their dreams.

In the six weeks since we first met them, they have embraced the changes Martin Lindstrom recommended head-on. They immediately reached out to the local community, partnering with musicians, WiFi providers and local businesses to create mouth-watering weekend brunches. 

As much as they appreciate the help from the community, they’re determined to give back as much as they receive. It’s heartwarming and encouraging to see first-hand how much Nashville cares about Biscuit Love. I firmly believe it’s these communities that will make the difference.

Video: Small businesses are crucial to the overall economy, and in many places, the lifeblood of a community. As many struggle under the pressures of the economic downturn and online retailers, one expert steps in to see if he can help. TODAY’s Erica Hill reports.

In Richmond, Ind., at Veach’s Toy Station, we felt that same love. When we arrived on a bitterly cold mid-December day, people were already on hand to help with the transformation. After 75 years on Main Street, this town seemed to be almost as vested in the store’s survival as its owners, John and Shari Veach.

Dozens of volunteers worked through the night hauling boxes, painting, creating displays and braving bone-chilling cold outside to ensure a brighter future for Veach’s. To say John and Shari were overwhelmed by the love and support they saw and felt in those 24 hours would be a gross understatement. They are a remarkable, warm family who are an integral part of Richmond. It’s no wonder so many people there are determined to help them succeed.

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There are more than 28 million small businesses across the country. Together, they employ more than half the working population. They are the backbone of our economy, but they are also the stories and the people that tie us together. 

The places we remember form our childhood, the shops we want to take our kids to someday, the places that make a town or a neighborhood special. The shops, restaurants and businesses that remind us why tradition still means something. It was an honor to be a part of these communities, and I look forward to following the success of both Biscuit Love and Veach’s for many years to come. 

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