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Despite pandemic, Columbia sees spike in new businesses, leaders say

More businesses are opening and finding success as they discover new ways to thrive, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — When it comes to opening a business, challenges are sure to come with uncertainty one thing you count on in the middle of a pandemic.

Despite this, Delaina Pinckney wasn’t deterred, opening the first storefront for her business The Stylish Vault (TSV) in the Columbiana Centre mall at 100 Columbiana Circle.

“So, I have two things in life: Bet on yourself and go for it,” Pinckney said, “and here I am, I’m betting on myself and I just went for it.”

The Sumter native has always had a love for fashion, but it was a graduate school project that she said would make her dream of ownership a reality.

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“It was supposed to be a group project and my group members never reached out to me. So, I’m like that student emailing the professor, like no one’s reaching out to me, but I want to get ahead of this,” Pinckney said. “So, he was like, you know what, you can do it on your own. So, I was like perfect, I have my own business. Let’s do that. So, he really encouraged me to go for it and that’s how it started.”

Credit: Delaina Pinckney
Delaina Pinckney cuts grand opening ribbon at The Stylish Vault store in Columbiana Centre.

That was in 2018. Since then, she said, she’s done pop-up shops in cities around the country selling contemporary clothing and accessories. The coronavirus, a bump in the road she would ultimately cross.

It’s the kind of entrepreneurial spirit Columbia Chamber of Commerce President Carl Blackstone said is happening throughout the city.

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“That’s been the best surprise quite frankly of the whole pandemic,” Blackstone said. “We were fearful that we wouldn’t see an increase in business licenses, but we have.”

According to city data, Columbia has seen a 35 percent increase in applications of development projects compared to this time last year, totaling more than $471 million dollars.

“… and it’s people that have… had time off. They had time to think and plan and develop an idea and they used the last year to really invest time and money into opening a new business which is terrific,” Blackstone said.

Pinckney’s hoping to open more locations, eventually becoming a district manager of her own business, and hiring others.

Her motto now is, “just be resilient,” she said, “and don’t be afraid to fail. Failures are lessons and just go for it.”