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In the Know: Entrepreneurial spirit thrives downtown

When you hear the word entrepreneur, what comes to mind? Shark Tank, Bill Gates? Maybe Oprah or Steve Jobs; uber successful right?

If you would have asked me two years ago, I might have said the show Undercover Boss came to mind. A show which showcases companies and their leadership digging deep into the front lines of their successful (and I stress successful) businesses evaluating process and organization within the company all the while undercover. Makes for good TV, nine seasons worth! It would seem entrepreneurship is a glamorous endeavor. After all, Shark Tank and Undercover Boss bring in the viewers by the masses.

Ask me now, two years into owning my own business what the word entrepreneur brings to mind and I tell you there are no words to describe it. The first thing that comes to mind is my heart; it has often felt it may actually stop beating for a moment. The second thing that comes to mind is the Intimidator 305, one of the country's most intense roller coaster rides! There are bumps in the journey of entrepreneurship that no amount of training, education or research can prepare you for, and yes, often feels like a roller coaster ride.

As in a coaster ride however, you know you are not on the ride alone, there are other "coasters" strapped in for the thrill of the ride; whatever that may be, good, bad or otherwise.

Now, when I hear the word entrepreneur, the first thing that comes to mind is Downtown Alexandria and all of the locally owned businesses. The other thing that comes to mind, specifically, is the amazing individuals on the journey of owning their own businesses, the "roller coaster coasters," if you will.

I have had the pleasure of meeting many downtown businesses owners and realize they are down-to-earth people trying to fulfill the inexplicable drive of owning a business. Downtown Alexandria as whole has so much to offer, that prior to having a business downtown I would never have experienced. The retail shopping is diverse and offers options to several demographics. From trendy clothing, home décor, men's options and more! I now make downtown my first place to shop for my family's retail needs. It's exciting to hear, most of the downtown businesses will be open until 7 p.m. on Thursday evenings beginning August 9! Our eateries, too, are great options for a night off from the kitchen and are diverse in style and experience and worth exploring each one!

I encourage you, or rather invite you, to check out Downtown Alexandria where the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well. And when you step into a locally owned store, whether here at home or elsewhere, keep in mind, you are now a part of the entrepreneurial journey for that business owner, the part of the (roller coaster) ride that the business owner finds the most rewarding — connection with our community!

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Patty Dusing is a business owner and serves on the board of directors for the Alexandria Downtown Merchants Association. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.