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Small business responds to Covid crisis



So, now what?

Their stores closed. The offices are vacant. Their income limited.

Small businesses had to answer the question of what they can do right now.

And, for the most part, they did.

About 92 percent of small business owners reinvented themselves, according to Small Biz Trends.

Digital technology was the answer to many small businesses.

– 58% created new online delivery channels.

– 40% created a new virtual service.

– 36% made a new offline delivery channel.

– 31% created a new product.

– 19% worked for a new customer group.

Small restaurateurs and stores selling unique goods all could have had a website presence, but many owners were too busy to make it happen before the coronavirus crisis. When lockdowns happened, they had to set those up.

Virtual services are not just for schools. Trainers, chefs, music teachers all have tried to involve local customers in virtual classes. While they might find new customers, the same services also find they compete with existing businesses online.

For some, new products have helped. Some small manufacturers began making the things most in demand: masks and sanitizers, for example. Breweries made sanitizer. Pillow companies made masks and medical scrubs.

For some, it has worked. Fifty-one percent of businesses that did a pivot say they have increased business against forecasts. But small businesses are still facing issues with skills and staffing for new skills, as well as a lack of money.

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Leaders: Peter Thiel looks to future



When you think of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO may come to mind first. But venture capitalist Peter Thiel also played a major role in Facebook, and he’s also had a big part in other tech companies. These days, Thiel is perhaps as well known for his political and social activism as he is for investing.

Born in Germany, Thiel’s family immigrated to the United States while Peter was still an infant. A strict upbringing helped shape Thiel’s philosophical outlook, which to this day leans libertarian.
Thiel eventually received a law degree from Stanford and even clerked for a judge in Atlanta. But as computers and the Internet boomed in the early 1990s, Thiel eschewed a law career and raised money to fund tech investments instead.

A few years later, Thiel co-founded PayPal, which grew into one of the largest online payment platforms in the world. Thiel was Facebook’s first outside investor, and without his resources, the social media platform might not have become the tech giant it is today. Since then, Thiel has raked in many millions more with investments in Lyft, Asana, Airbnb, and other hot tech platforms.
As an investor, Thiel has a good eye for spotting tech companies that could revolutionize society and industries. Part of this likely comes down to his business philosophy, which focuses on disruptive innovation. In his best-selling business book, “Zero to One,” Thiel argues that:

“Every moment in business happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.”

Front Royal Virginia

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Savings interest rates may rise slowly



When you open a savings account, you are, in effect, lending money to your bank, and in return, you get a very safe investment and a little interest.

For the past several years, the Federal Reserve kept interest rates low. This meant cheaper mortgages, but also microscopic earnings on savings deposits. In fact, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation reports that the national savings interest rate was a tiny .07 as of May 2022, up from .06 percent in December 2021. Go back to 2010 and rates averaged .2 percent. Peek further back in time, however, and you can find rates in excess of 7 percent.

So with Fed interest rates on the rise, will you see interest paid on savings accounts increase? Probably, but only marginally. As the Fed rates tick up, so too will savings account rates. But even optimistic experts are predicting that rates will rise to 2 percent or thereabouts in late 2022. Rates will rise as banks compete for deposits, but the increase will probably be slow and incremental.

Large, historically-established banks have been slow to increase rates. Less well-known online banks, however, are courting customers more aggressively and even offering rates in excess of 1 percent.

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From farming to mapping the world: Meet Gladys West



Catch a road trip movie from the 70s or 80s and you might see folks juggling with maps or else asking for directions. These days? There’s an app for that. Cars, planes, and even trains all rely on GPS.

Ever wondered where it came from? In part, it came from Gladys West, one of the chief architects of the Global Positioning System (GPS).

Dr. Gladys West is inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame during a ceremony in her honor at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 6, 2018. West was among the so-called “Hidden Figures” part of the team who did computing for the U.S. military in the era before electronic systems. The Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame is one of the Air Force’s Space Commands Highest Honors.(Photo by Adrian Cadiz)

West was born in 1930 in Virginia. Coming into the world amid the Great Depression, and as an African-American in a segregated nation, you might not think her work would change the world. But it did.

During her childhood, West spent summers helping on the family farm. When school was in session, it was a three-mile walk, both ways, each day.

West quickly saw her education as her ticket to prosperity. After years of studying, she earned a scholarship to Virginia State College, where she majored in mathematics. Eventually, this led to a job as a programmer at a Virginia naval base, where she was one of four Black employees.

Toiling long hours, West contributed to space exploration and later programmed the IBM 7030 Stretch computer to build an accurate geodetic Earth model. This work laid the foundation for the Global Positioning System that helps the modern world go round.

In 2018, she was inducted into the United States Air Force Hall of Fame.

Today, she is 91. She and her husband, Ira, have three children and seven grandchildren. While she pioneered GPS, she still prefers paper maps.

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The history of Independent Retailer Month



July is Independent Retailer Month, an event that encourages people to visit their local shops and markets and support their community’s business sector. After all, small businesses are the backbone of the economy.

How it started
Independent Retailer Week was created in 2003 by Tom Shay, the founder of Profits Plus, a web-based company providing support to small businesses. With this event, he sought to educate small business owners on the importance of engaging with their communities and customers.

Six years later, Kerry Bannigan, a co-founder of Nolcha, launched her own version of Independent Retailer Week. This time, the campaign targeted New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Jersey. The event focused on independent fashion retailers and was a tremendous success.

In 2011, Shay and Bannigan discussed creating a new, more inclusive event that celebrated and raised awareness of the importance of independent retailers of all kinds. Independent Retailer Month was born in July 2011 and quickly spread around the globe to places like the UK and Canada.

How it’s celebrated today
Today, Independent Retailer Month is an annual event that brings together independent retail associations, small business groups, and thought leaders to highlight independent retailers’ positive social and economic impacts on towns and cities.

Although July is Independent Retailer Month, local merchants need your support all year long.


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In pursuit of the well-trimmed lawn



Few things say Americana like a well-trimmed lawn. Yet the modern lawn is a modern invention. Throughout most of history, trimmed yards were a luxury for the wealthy, who could hire people to cut and trim by hand. Most regular people only cleared land for farming or other agricultural purposes. Sometimes, grazing animals, like goats, were used to keep nature in check. By and large, however, people didn’t cut the grass in the modern sense.

In 1830, Edwin Beard Budding introduced the lawnmower to the world, taking inspiration from local clothing mills. This early lawnmower looks comical by today’s standards and was too heavy to easily use. However, Budding’s ideas cut the way for human-powered reel-type mowers, which while less common, are still used today.

In 1859, Thomas Green created a chain-driven mower. Squint really, really hard, and this mower looks vaguely similar to the motorized push mowers found in many garages and sheds today. A steam power motor appeared in the 1890s, and a large commercial combustion mower hit the turf in 1902. The first gas power mower started cutting in 1915.

These days, many folks opt for riding lawnmowers. Why push when you can rest? The first self-propelled riding lawnmower, the so-called “Triplex,” was introduced in 1922. Still, while mower technology advanced, many folks skipped cutting lawns. In 1952, as modern lawn care sensibilities were emerging, Briggs and Stratton developed a lightweight aluminum engine, which, in turn, allowed for light and easy-to-handle mowers.

The next several decades saw modern push and riding lawnmowers become more effective, cheaper, and easier to handle. Thus, more and more people started cutting their lawns. Now, you can purchase automated lawnmowers guided by AI to trim your grass. And rather than pushing or driving, you can enjoy a glass of lemonade on your porch while the mower does the work.

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Brick-by-brick: How LEGO solved financial struggles



Luke Skywalker ignites his lightsaber, a faint blue against a dark, alien Cloud City. But look closer and it’s not silver screen Luke but instead, a LEGO mock-up. This past spring, “LEGO STAR WARS: The Skywalker Saga” leaped into hyperspace, topping video game charts.

Once known simply for plastic bricks, LEGO has sold over 200 million video games and pulled in more than $1 billion at the movie box office. Meanwhile, LEGOLAND theme parks bring in more than 15 million visitors annually.

Yet in 2003, LEGO was about $850 million in debt and racked up $240 million in losses in 2004 alone. At the time, LEGO pulled in less than a billion dollars per year and simple plastic bricks no longer seemed good enough. Now? Lego’s revenues have topped $7.5 billion.

How did LEGO turn things around? First, LEGO brought in Vig Knudstorp as CEO, who sold LEGOLAND to the Merlin Group for about $260 million. Increased mold and production costs had smothered LEGO’s finances, so Knudstorp streamlined a bloated portfolio of LEGO parts to 6,000, leading to substantial cost savings.

Knudstorp also shut down LEGO’s computer game division. However, the company partnered with external developer TT Games to develop new games. Now, LEGO video games sell millions of copies. Julia Goldin, LEGO’s CMO, notes that video games move bricks, with some kids video gaming before they even get into physical LEGO sets.

Building partnerships with major franchises like Star Wars and Harry Potter, also drove sales with some collector’s sets targeted for adults, retailing for hundreds of dollars. And in 2019, the Kristiansens, LEGO’s founding family and controlling owners, bought Merlin Group, bringing LEGOLAND back into the fold.

Thus, brick by brick, LEGO has emerged as a leading amusement park operator, film franchise, toy company, and video game franchise.

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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:


Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Beaver Tree Services

Blake and Co. Hair Spa

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Christine Binnix - McEnearney Associates

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Explore Art & Clay

Family Preservation Services

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

House of Hope

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

KW Solutions

Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Merchants on Main Street

Mountain Trails

National Media Services

No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

Penny Lane Hair Co.

Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Rotary Club of Warren County

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

Royal Examiner

Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Ruby Yoga

Salvation Army

Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

St. Luke Community Clinic

Studio Verde

The Institute for Association & Nonprofit Research

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

Valley Chorale

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

Warren Coalition

Warren County Democratic Committee

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

WCPS Work-Based Learning

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Aug 12 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
…and be sure to attend our Fourth of July event!
9:30 am Forest Bathing Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Forest Bathing Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 13 @ 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Forest Bathing Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Picnic Area Join Kim Strader, ANFT Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide, for a gentle walk (no more than a mile or two) where we will wander and sit. Through a series of invitations and[...]
11:00 am Monarch Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Monarch Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 13 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Monarch Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Carriage Barn in the Historic Area Habitat loss has caused Monarch butterfly populations to reach dangerously low numbers. Join the Park Naturalist and Virginia Master Naturalists as they set out to collect Monarch caterpillars and[...]
2:00 pm Pregnancy Center’s Community Bab... @ Living Water Christian Church
Pregnancy Center’s Community Bab... @ Living Water Christian Church
Aug 13 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Pregnancy Center's Community Baby Shower @ Living Water Christian Church
The Living Water Christian Church of the Shenandoah Valley is having a “Community Baby Shower” in support of the Pregnancy Center of Front Royal. We are inviting the public to attend and bring wrapped gifts[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Aug 17 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
7:00 pm Appalachian Chamber Music Festiv... @ Barns of Rose Hill
Appalachian Chamber Music Festiv... @ Barns of Rose Hill
Aug 18 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Appalachian Chamber Music Festival - Opening Night @ Barns of Rose Hill
The Appalachian Chamber Music Festival is delighted to be returning to the Barns of Rose Hill on Thursday, August 18, at 7pm, for the opening night concert of our 2022 summer season. The festival celebrates[...]
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Aug 19 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
…and be sure to attend our Fourth of July event!
11:00 am National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 20 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area The bees are buzzing at Sky Meadows State Park! Meet the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah as they perform a honey extraction. Learn about beekeeping, honeybees and the art of apiculture. Support beekeeping and[...]
12:00 pm Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 21 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Carriage Barn in the Historic Area. What’s that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah (BONS) and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program series examines all aspects[...]