Martinsville Chamber board chair Darcy Quakenbush and State of the City MC Jamin Baxter recently surprised Fables & Fairy Tales owner Jennie Middleton and her team with the Outstanding Business Award.

The Outstanding Business Award recognizes businesses in or around the city of Martinsville for noteworthy accomplishments, long-standing contribution to the community, and significant community service efforts.

Here is an excerpt from the submitted nomination: Fables and Fairy Tales has done a remarkable job of navigating the many challenges of the past year, including a global pandemic, downtown construction and more. What’s more, they have done so with a smile on their faces and a heart toward helping others.

When COVID-19 closed many businesses and prevented customers from coming out to browse the shop, Fables and Fairy Tales was one of the first businesses in town to adopt curbside pickup and custom personal shopper services. They regularly featured new and notable merchandise fitting a wide range of ages and interests on their Facebook page to help people find books and activities to stay occupied while spending more time at home. They went live on Facebook with storytime events to help parents keep little ones occupied and interested in reading. They also pivoted to online sales, letting customers know how they could shop the store virtually from home.

As a nurse, owner Jennie Middleton knew the difficulty that medical professionals faced in wearing PPE all day, every day. Fables and Fairy Tales began producing and donating plastic devices to help ease some of the discomfort, taking donations from customers to help increase their reach. These ear-saving devices were distributed free of charge to health professionals not just locally, but in other communities (and states!) as well.

With diminished retail sales in the store, they thought outside the box to create new revenue streams with their popular t-shirt party group on Facebook. They also created a variety of sales promotions, including the very fun “blind date” with a book promotion for Valentine’s Day. In addition, as we move slowly toward “normal” they have done so without leaving high-risk customers behind, continuing to highlight things on Facebook, offer curbside pickup and personal shopping services. In-store craft classes have returned in 2021, but they’ve also taken care to offer an at-home version of the featured craft so that those who are high risk can still participate from home by picking up a kit with instructions.

It’s this kind of attention to detail and care for customers that make Fables and Fairy Tales a wonderful example of the kind of business we want and need in Martinsville.