We’re always excited when our Heat & Eat BBQ and other products are locally available in new parts of the country. That said, Debrah Ammar and her daughters recently started offering our products in the Bluefield, West Virginia area.
We sat down with her to learn more about Magnolia on Jefferson and wanted to introduce the store to the Piedmont community.
About Magnolia on Jefferson Owner, Debrah Ammar:
Debrah has been an influential resident of Bluefield, VA for decades. She’s always volunteered her time and vocalized her opinions for the betterment of the community. Her presence and efforts have built a strong legacy across the two Virginias. Her eclectic style and taste are most recently on display at her newest project, Magnolia on Jefferson. Her passion for philanthropy and curation of a colorful, beautiful lifestyle have come to life through her shop she co-owns with her daughters, Alexandra and Olivia. They’re continuing the family tradition of building business that enriches the lives of its customers.
About Magnolia on Jefferson:
Debrah and her daughters, Alexandra and Olivia, share an affinity for hostessing and helping those close to them make memories that last a lifetime. Entertaining for holidays and special occasions paved the way for what is now known as Magnolia on Jefferson, a floral, specialty gift, home decor, gourmet food and wine shop.
The Ammar family has an entrepreneurial legacy in the two Virginias and beyond. Debrah finds it extremely fulfilling to see her girls following in the path of their late father, S.A. Ammar, Jr. of Magic Mart, Inc., a family owned regional chain of retail stores that was in existence for 97 years.
Their goal was to curate a “one stop shop” for the two Bluefields and surrounding communities for all of life’s occasions. Today, Magnolia on Jefferson encompasses everything one could need for times of celebration and sympathy alike.
Debrah Ammar Answers Our Questions:
Debrah, we had a chance to read your website and learn that entrepreneurship has been a part of the Ammar story in the Virginias for over 100 years. Can you tell us a little bit about what you all were up to prior to Magnolia on Jefferson?
My late husband’s family ran a multistate chain of retail stores known as Magic Mart. The product offering was vast and affordable to all, which led to a strong and loyal customer following.
After 97 years in business and the company resiliently withstanding big box retail competitors entering the marketspace, the tough decision was made to cease operations.
This experience cultivated a deep understanding of the value small businesses bring to communities. Furthermore, it’s the predominant reason for our allegiance in supporting other local businesses near and far.
So fast forward, Magnolia on Jefferson opens and you and your two daughters are in business together. How did you all decide that you should go into business together?
Prior to opening Magnolia on Jefferson, I oversaw the restoration of the Granada Theater in downtown Bluefield WV, chaired the Lemonade Festival for the two Virginias and incubated The Blue Spoon Cafe. I was former President of the Bluefield Preservation Society, current Vice President of Bluefield Arts Rehabilitation Corporation, and a member of the Bluefield State University School Advisory Board. While much of my work and contributions have been based around non-profit organizations, my desire to bring something new to the community grew in recent years.
Who better to join forces with than my two daughters, Alexandra and Olivia? They’ve helped to execute a business model that brings a product offering unlike ever before to the two Bluefields.
We consider ourselves fortunate to have the opportunity to work together and partner with vendors like Piedmont BBQ Co. that share the same business values and goals when it comes to the customer experience.
How did you land on floral arrangements as your preferred business? What types of folks buy from you?
The floral portion of our business model was in existence for 40 years prior to our ownership. My daughters and I dove in feet first when we took over and quickly developed our own design style offering a new, fresh take on flowers for our customers. We aimed to curate a retail offering equipped for all of life’s occasions and feel we’ve been successful in that endeavor.
You also offer a number of gourmet food items. Tell us a little bit about your process for selecting what you want to sell…How do you vet what you might offer?
My girls and I share a love for food, travel and entertaining guests in our homes. Through our travels we have come across a variety of wonderful gourmet foods prepared by great companies that aren’t offered in our immediate area.
Things we give top consideration are the ingredients, taste, and ease of preparation and serving. If we can offer quality food items that also create a convenience for our customers in their daily lives, we consider them to be a compatible match for Magnolia on Jefferson.
We’re extremely proud that you offer Piedmont products (our first retail location in West Virginia). What do you like about our products?
Each of us has a love for Carolina style BBQ. We first came across Piedmont BBQ products in Atlanta, GA. The convenience of boil-in-a-bag coupled with the taste of the products was immediately intriguing.
On top of the product quality, we love the versatility of the products as a “base” to so many dishes. The ability to get creative in how you want to serve the buttermilk brined chicken, for instance, is limitless. Piedmont’s products can be utilized in so many ways in so many dishes.
Why do you think they’re a good product for your clientele?
Since we’re in a small town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, our food and beverage options are limited. Our prepared food options, specifically, are even further limited. To be able to offer prepared proteins and stews to our customers is something they weren’t able to find until we brought Piedmont BBQ to Magnolia on Jefferson.
You’ve had a lot of success already with multiple lines of business running now. What’s next for the Ammar ladies? Anything new coming online this year?
Magnolia on Jefferson will continue to evolve. We strive to keep refreshing our offering, while always keeping the customer favorites in stock. Continuing partnerships with companies like Piedmont BBQ, we hope to be able to grow together and continue to champion the success of our business, as well as our vendor’s businesses.
Any advice to other entrepreneurial folks that might be opening up unique shops and looking to find the right vendors?
Partner with businesses that will help support and cultivate growth. Give serious consideration and thought to product lines that will best serve your customer base. Ask yourself what makes a vendor’s products unique to those you can buy in a grocery store or market. Align your business with vendor partners that appreciate you carrying their products in your store.