In a town like St. Francisville, families pull together to build small businesses that stay successful from one generation to the next
Generations of families have chosen to bank with Bank of St. Francisville (BSF) for their personal and business needs, because they’re served by staff who know them by name and take a sincere interest in their success.
“A commitment to relationship banking is what we’re all about,” said BSF President Carter Leak IV. “We have a lot of customers who have been banking with us over several decades. That level of familiarity allows us to understand what they want to accomplish and how we can help.”
That ethic is exemplified in three businesses whose relationship with the bank facilitated a move to new premises in Live Oak Centre, the newly developed retail center that is rapidly attracting businesses, and shoppers, to a prominent section of Highway 61. BSF helped longtime customers, Audubon Market, Elliott’s Pharmacy and Patrick’s Fine Jewelry secure commercial loans to design and build modern locations in the highly visible development, which has enabled the businesses to offer better retail experiences for both established and new customers. BSF’s investment means a win-win for both the merchants and the community.
“One of the things we liked about this project was the opportunity to help our commercial customers build wealth by owning these new spaces,” noted Tab Ballard, Assistant Vice President for Commercial Lending.
Live Oak Centre’s anchor store is Audubon Market, a family-run supermarket first opened in 1989 by John David, his son, Darrell David, and his daughter and son-in-law, Lisa and Mike LeBlanc. The family more than tripled the size of its former store with a 35,000-square-foot location at Live Oak that opened in summer 2015. Lisa Leblanc says the new store features services and items that had not yet been available at St. Francisville grocery stores, including gourmet and gluten-free products, a salad bar, fresh sushi, an expanded bakery and wine department, hot breakfast and lunch, coffee drinks, smoothies and dining tables.
“People who were driving to New Roads or Zachary are staying here to shop, and we’re picking up a lot of customers from outside the parish.” says Lisa. “We jumped from about 15 to 20 employees at the old store to between 60 and 70 here.”
A stone’s throw from Audubon Market is Elliott Pharmacy, which moved into its Live Oak storefront in April 2016.
“It’s certainly been an enhancement for us on more than one level,” says owner and pharmacist Cliff Elliott. “We were able to do a drive-thru, which is something we didn’t have before, and we have an immunization room where we’ll be doing flu shots. We have more room within the prescription department that has allowed for a better work environment.”
Certainly, the proximity to the highway and to the stream of folks coming and going from Audubon Market, have been great for bringing new customers into Elliott’s. But Cliff, a second-generation pharmacist with a daughter also planning to enter the pharmacy profession, is quick to point out another benefit: the opportunity that building ownership provides to build equity in his business.
“For me personally, having the opportunity to own a building and not lease an older building is a great decision for the long run,” Cliff says.
Live Oak Centre is also home to the new location of Patrick’s Fine Jewelry, a family-run business established in 1984 by St. Francisville residents John and Phyllis Patrick. John’s son, Johnny, joined the business in 2011, and the plan is for Johnny to take the reins once his dad is ready to hang up his jeweler’s toolkit.
Patrick’s moved into the 3,600 square foot space in October 2015—more than doubling the size of the former location. The new space has accommodated more retail cases, a broader range of services including engraving and custom jewelry design, and a full-service bridal registry department. The family considered opening a store in Baton Rouge until the opportunity to build at Live Oak Centre took shape.
“It pretty much doubled our business the first year, and we’ve been able to hold that volume,” says John. “We have not regretted the move one bit. We’ve picked up a tremendous amount of business from people we probably would have never come in contact with.”