Tobacco World and Variety
Sometimes life’s best lessons take the long way home. Ervin Lewis, from Cotton Plant, Arkansas, went to Iraq to learn his. While serving in Iraq with the Arkansas National Guard, a roadside explosive device severely injured his legs. He spent three months in an Army Rehabilitation Hospital and was discharged from the National Guard.
Wounded but not broken, Ervin and his wife, Terrie, returned to Cotton Plant and began to pick up the pieces of their lives. In this small town, like much of the Delta, jobs are hard to come by. With few options, they decided to create their own jobs and open a smoke shop and small convenience store. This business, at best, was problematic. For many years people and businesses had been leaving Cotton Plant. Much of the downtown was gone or decaying with whole blocks missing. The nearest grocery store was at Brinkley, 11 miles away.
Using their own money, they took over a long vacant storefront on Main Street and set to work. Working with Deborah Slayton and Ryan Ritchie from SBA microlender alt.Consulting, they fine-tuned their business plan. Alt.Consulting also approved a microloan to help them open Tobacco World and Variety in August 2011.
This business has not only survived, it has grown. Cotton Plant Mayor Ronnie Conley says that Tobacco World and Variety is one of the few new businesses to open in Cotton Plant in the past 20 years. He is very pleased with the ongoing assistance that SBA, SCORE, and SBA microlenders alt. Consulting and ACCION have given his city.
“The SBA has been a Godsend. We are turning this thing around. We have three more new businesses that we will be announcing soon, and the SBA and its resource partners were instrumental in all of them,” he said.