Friday, August 31, 2012

Building business and a sense of community

Downtown Moneta businesses support fundraising events for a variety of local organizations.

Denise Membreno

Downtown Moneta's first business opened its doors in 2008 as the economy was spiraling. Since then, in a still struggling economy, more businesses have hung their shingles and bought into the Downtown Moneta mission of creating a small-town feel.

To that end, Downtown Moneta is the site of many community fundraisers. For the past several years, it also has been the location of the Smith Mountain Lake Business Expo.

"We've done different events here in the past," said Michelle Aznavorian, owner of Affordable Home Outlet, which is located at Downtown Moneta. "We had a car show here in May to benefit a girl who had breast cancer, and we've done other events to benefit the YMCA, Lake Christian Ministries, as well as other organizations."

Aznavorian and her husband, George, are part of N.B.I. Development, LLC, developers of Downtown Moneta and the neighboring residential developments. The goal has always been to build a community, she said.

"We try to do at least one event a month to draw the community together," said Aznavorian. "Everybody works together to promote each other and help each other out, because you know that is what the small-town feel is supposed to be, and that is what people did in the past and it works."

"Any functions we do here, we donate the proceeds to a local cause," said Steve Saunders, owner of the Smokehouse Restaurant.

Saunders said that during the benefit for the breast cancer victim, who was the mother of a 14-year-old and a 9-year-old, "We came together and served 553 plates and raised $5,800 in four-and-a-half hours. We gave 100 percent of the proceeds to her."

Saunders' Smokehouse is one of seven eating establishments in Downtown Moneta. Each is different and fulfills a separate niche, from barbecue to sushi, pizza, deli food and ice cream to Italian. No matter what the business, all the owners band together to help promote one another's business.

"When I first opened, I was the only one in my building," said Aznavorian. "Now we've got the Magic Shop, the Antique Mall and the tanning salon upstairs. Then Sears moved in at Christmastime, and the insurance company across the way, and the Smokehouse Restaurant opened right before Christmas. There's just all kinds of stuff happening over here."

The weekend of Sept. 7-8 there will be a whole lot of stuff happening. On Sept. 7 from 4 to 8 p.m., there will be a Bike Show for Man's Best Friend. It will feature some of the best motorcycles in the area, as well as classic cars, but only the bikes will be judged. The winners will be awarded prizes, gift certificates and trophies. The registration fee is whatever participants would like to donate; all proceeds will go to the Bedford Humane Society.

Those who donate pet food, toys or blankets will get a coupon sheet good at Downtown Moneta businesses. Second Flyte, a tribute band to The Byrds, will play from 6 to 8 p.m.

Hot air balloons also will be flying above Downtown Moneta on Sept. 7. The Second Annual Smith Mountain Lake Hot Air Balloon Classic will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tethered rides are $5. Proceeds will benefit the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce.

On Saturday, there will be a glow event at Mariners Landing Resort from 8 until 10 p.m. Last year the event was contained to the resort.

"We wanted to have a more central location, so Downtown Moneta is what we considered a perfect location," said Holly Sweet, general manager and special events coordinator at Mariner's Landing. "We want to make the Balloon Classic more of a lake event, a unique signature event at the lake."

For more information about the Second Annual Smith Mountain Lake Hot Air Balloon Classic, call 297-4900 or visit marinerslanding.com. For information on the Bike Show for Man's Best Friend, call 871-0321 or visit downtownmoneta.com.