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The student news site of Linganore High School

The Lance

The student news site of Linganore High School

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Linganore entrepreneur Sierra Howell takes the Maryland agriculture business by storm

Widespread Country Market and Route 26 Threads are two new businesses in one that have recently opened in Libertytown. (Courtesy of Sierra Howell)

A new Maryland-based western clothing and grocery market has caught the attention of people and media all down the East Coast. 

Linganore High School (LHS) junior Sierra Howell and her family have recently opened a business in Libertytown. Widespread Country Market is one of the two businesses Howell has introduced this year. 

Widespread Country Market had its grand opening on September 30. They advertised heavily through Facebook leading up to the business’s debut, including advertising on the WFRE radio station during the week of the Frederick Fair. 

Widespread Country Market sells a variety of different things including baked goods. They sell pies, pastries and more. (Courtesy of Lisa Williams)

For the grand opening, the family decorated the interior and exterior of the market with different flowers, pumpkins and other fall decorations that were being sold. The market had live music and performances throughout the day to encourage customers to visit and enjoy their experience. 

Howell believed this “was the best way” to kick off the business her family worked so hard to develop.

The idea for the business came from Howell’s aunt Lisa Williams, who had always loved the idea of selling fresh meats and baked goods in a rustic, farmhouse-style market. 

Howell’s uncle Jimmy Summers and Williams gathered ideas for their business from local markets and created connections with other small businesses around town. This allowed them to build resources for their entree to the country market community. As they continued to put their names out there and take in advice from numerous businesses, their passion grew. Ultimately, their efforts lead to the creation of Widespread Country Market. 

The market is laid out in an ergonomic way so that customers can easily find their way around and see all of the products they have to offer. (Courtesy of Lisa Williams)

Summers originally selected the name Widespread when the pair first began building their business. Williams explained that she did not like the name at first and was unsure if they should change it.

“I’ll be honest with you; I was a little taken aback,” said Williams.

However, Summers made the name with purpose and intended to keep it. He felt Widespread was apropos because they were going to be offering a wide spread of items at their market.

While Williams had been slow to get on board, she began to think about the meaning behind the moniker and how they could represent the name within the market. Eventually, she loved the name as much as her partner. 

Williams’ family is no stranger to entrepreneurship, having already founded a successful local business. She and her family also own J Bar W Ranch where they host rodeos and own steer cattle known for their widespread horns. As an homage to their first family business and the name Widespread, Williams plans to hang cattle horns in their lobby. She decided to incorporate the bull in their logo as well.

The Widespread Country Market logo shows where their name came from and represents what their market is all about. (Courtesy of Lisa Williams)

While Summers and Williams own the business, Howell and her mom, Regina Williams, as well as Lisa Williams’ daughter-in-law, Samantha Kent, help out with various aspects of running the business, including assisting with advertising, selecting inventory and seconding important decisions. 

Lisa’s sister, Regina Williams, helps with the store whenever she can.  She also works as a Director of Finance and Business Operations at Pharmalex, a pharmaceutical distribution company. She supports the business by inputting the merchandise in the point-of-sale (POS) system to ensure the register is ready and has all of their products priced correctly. 

The market sells everything from smoked meats and signature sandwiches to fresh jams and jellies and baked goods. The baked goods such as — come from the Amish community in Taneytown. In addition to foodstuffs, they also sell antique items and home decor that comes from Summers’ auctions with J Bar W Ranch. 

Recently, weekdays have become busier for the business. More people are finding out about it from word of mouth or on social media. Since Widespread Country Market has weekly specials including lunch sandwiches and dinner meals, customers are encouraged to return each week to experience the new exclusive food items. 

Howell runs a business within this business called Route 26 Threads. It operates in a room within Widespread Country Market’s building. There, she sells western clothing, accessories and jewelry. 

“I knew I didn’t want to have the word ‘boutique’ in the name of my little shop, so my aunt recommended incorporating the word ‘threads’ into the name,” Howell said. 

Because the location of the store is on Route 26, it made sense to Howell and her aunt to incorporate that into the name when they were brainstorming. 

“I fell in love with the idea and immediately began revolving [the creation of] the shop around this title,” said Howell. 

The Route 26 Threads logo shows attributes of Widespread Country Market as well as featuring the road both businesses are on. (Courtesy of Sierra Howell)

Howell independently manages this portion of the market, and it requires her to handpick the inventory that is sold at Route 26 Threads. It took her some time to learn how to do this, and she prepared over the summer before the grand opening. 

“My favorite part of running Route 26 Threads within the market is promoting the items through social media platforms,” said Howell.

Howell has always loved managing media, so she enjoys the creative process of advertising. She has been able to reach a broader audience and more girls around her age who want to find a style that fits them.

She spends time at the market each week checking on inventory to determine what needs to be ordered or what does not. Howell places orders with different wholesalers about every two weeks to ensure her inventory is always stocked. 

In Route 26 Threads, Howell designs outfits with clothing and jewelry from the store and displays them on mannequins throughout the room. She swaps out different outfits for new designs every week, to keep it interesting and fresh for new and returning customers. 

Howell continuously dresses her mannequins in clothes that they sell to attract customers. (Courtesy of Sierra Howell)

Behind the scenes, Howell is continually promoting her business online. She has established a publication calendar, which involves creating posts in advance and having many drafted for days to come.  

Prior to the opening of Route 26 Threads, Howell and her family had never experienced anything like opening a retail store.

“My aunt and uncle spent countless hours reaching out to people in the community for resources of what to include in the market and how to get that inventory,” said Howell. 

They have met many friends during the process, all of them helping their business evolve along the way. They collaborated with a local butcher to serve the community with smoked meats and fresh deli sandwiches. They partnered with South Mountain Creamery to select flavors of ice cream and milk to sell at their market. 

Widespread Country Market has partnered with South Mountain Creamery to sell ice cream to their customers. (Courtesy of Lisa Williams)

Howell finds the hardest part of owning a business is balancing her personal and work life. She has been working considerably longer hours since the business only opened recently and she is learning the ins and outs of operating a successful business on her own. 

“When it’s your own name – and essentially your income – on the line, you want to do everything possible to protect that and work as hard as you can to be successful,” Howell said. 

Howell explained that for her this can mean skipping some family dinners or missing out on  other opportunities because her family is always working so hard to pursue this entrepreneurial dream. 

Widespread Country Market’s Lisa Williams is always looking for where they can improve and how they will proceed. Along with her regular job as a realtor, looking after the ranch, working auctions and now running this new business, it has become at times overwhelming. She is constantly listening to the feedback community and trying her best to change things accordingly. 

“You know, you get so tired,” said Williams. “You’re exhausted, and then someone will come in and they’re like, oh, we love this place,”

The market attracts customers by making their products easy to find and see.  (Courtesy of Lisa Williams)

Since Williams is at the market every day, it is at these moments when she realizes she takes its beauty for granted. She explained that when she would hear positive comments like that, it is worth the effort she and her family have put into the business. 

“You put all your heart and soul into it and that’s [the appreciation from the community] why you’re here,” said Williams.

Williams does not believe that the store itself is overwhelming and stressful, but it is a lot of work to handle when it is not the only thing in her life. 

Howell expressed that the word “humbled” would describe her experience simultaneously handling both family businesses. While the family had big goals with their endeavor, they knew it would be a lot of work, they truly did not know what to expect or how everything would work out. Though this business requires a lot of hard work, Howell realized how many people truly cared about her family and the business itself. 

Howell displays the jewelry she is selling to customers in Route 26 Threads. (Courtesy of Sierra Howell)

Many people have complimented Widespread Country Market and Route 26 Threads’ pricing and how reasonable it is. Howell loves seeing people posting about her inventory on social media and showing off what they bought from her and her family. 

Howell has always dreamed of running a business that sells western fashion, and Route 26 Threads has given her the opportunity to do that without taking on any financial risk, considering her aunt and uncle fund her business. 

“This has helped me gain experience of what it’s like to tap into my entrepreneurial spirit and also learn about budgeting and investing through my family,” said Howell. 

At the moment,Route 26 Threads only sells from the store front, but Howell and her family are currently getting a website up and running. Howell hopes that the website will be launched soon so her business will soon reach a wider audience and clientele in other parts of the country.

Howell’s goal is to eventually sell genuine turquoise, sterling silver and authentic Navajo pearl jewelry. She thinks that people in more rural areas will appreciate these products and be willing to pay a higher price for them. The end result would be Route 26 Threads making more money reaching bigger audiences with a fully-developed website. The website would link all of Widespread and Route 26 Threads’ different social media platforms as well.  

“Because my family is constantly working hard to make Widespread Country Market successful, it has inspired me to live up to their potential since Route 26 Threads is a part of their business. 

Howell explained that she has learned so many managing techniques from her family. She is able to apply these skills to her shop, which continues to push her family’s success, and she hopes her efforts makes her family proud. 

There’s highs and there’s lows, but all in all, it’s been great,”

— Lisa Williams

“There’s highs and there’s lows, but all in all, it’s been great,” Williams said. 

Williams wants all of her customers to walk into the market and feel the positive energy that has been created. She wants them to feel good while they are shopping or visiting the market. 

“I just want the place to be such a positive experience for anybody who works here or walks through the door,” said Williams. 

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