Bath and body store winner of Huntington Mall entrepreneurs’ contest
Jamie Seabolt, owner of WASH, left, and his partner, Greg Neilsen, stand together after winning the Huntington Mall’s Small Shop Showdown competition on Friday, March 13, 2020, in Barboursville.
- Ryan FIscher/The Herald-Dispatch
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BARBOURSVILLE — A winner has been named in the Huntington Mall’s Small Shop Showdown, a contest aimed at giving a green light to entrepreneurs with good ideas for a new store.
WASH, a store offering personal hair and skincare products, will open at one of the mall’s empty storefronts on May 1. Winning the contest comes with six months of free rent and support of the mall’s promotional staff.
The store will offer soaps, shampoos, bath bombs, shower steamers, beard oil, bubble bars and more. All products are formulated with vegetarian ingredients that are then shaped with artistry to look appetizing and smell like real food.
Store owner Jamie Seabolt was one of several hopefuls who submitted business plans after mall representatives announced the contest in January. A selection committee made up of the mall’s leasing staff selected him as the winner, which was announced during a ceremony Friday.
“I’m just thrilled that my business plan got to good use, and hopefully it inspires other young entrepreneurs in West Virginia to do great things,” he said.
Seabolt said he initially did not believe he was the winner when he got the call notifying him this week. However, his partner, Greg Neilson, reassured him that his business proposal had been rock solid.
Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for the Cafaro Co., agreed with Neilson. Cafaro is the company that owns the Huntington Mall in Barboursville.
About half a dozen proposals submitted to the contest were worthy of consideration, but the WASH concept proved to be a worthy addition to the mall’s retail lineup, Bell said.
“They came with a really good business plan, and they really thought out their business and thought out what it would take to get into operation,” he said.
Seabolt already owns Seabolt and Co., a skincare company located in Columbus, Ohio. When he heard about the Huntington Mall contest, he knew it would be a good opportunity to target a demographic he had been missing.
“We developed the WASH concept as a sister to Seabolt and Co. to allow us to enter into new markets and offer affordable luxuries to more people,” he said. “It’s got all the fun color stuff that teens, tweens and college students adore. We are doing a sweet shop, which is all bath and body products that are vegetarian in nature and look and smell just like real food.”
Seabolt, originally from Sissonville, West Virginia, said he is excited to be coming back to his home state and he intends to operate the store long beyond the six-month free rent period.
The Small Shop Showdown was a first for the Huntington Mall. It was developed because members of the mall’s leasing office are frequently approached from members of the community with good ideas for new businesses. The mall wanted to nurture these businesses in hopes they could be the nation’s next big chain.
“We are just really excited to see something new and fresh and something that comes organically from the community,” he said. “We think that is the future of retail.”