It was the Summer of 2009 when I met a girl from Statesboro. We were working at the same camp and I could not keep myself from talking to her.
"What school do you go to?" I asked lacking any other good convo material.
"Where is that?"
"Statesboro," she said. "It's where I grew up."
"...where?" (I wasn't the best at small talk with a pretty girl)
She sighed, "It's near Savannah."
'Ohhh. Ok. Sounds...neat."
As I awkwardly stumbled through our first interaction, I found myself becoming interested in Statesboro, simply because I found myself interested in this girl. Little did I know that one day I would marry her, and we would begin our own family in a little city called Statesboro.
We have been here now for 7 years. The locals call it a town that no one can leave; a black hole of sorts, and I can see why. The city grows on you more and more the longer you stay. But what I have witnessed from this community over the past month can not be expressed simply as gradual appreciation. I am actually struggling to find words to describe Statesboro's incredible response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our small business, like many, saw a sharp drop in sales in mid-March because of the coronavirus. The horror of those 2 days as we contemplated how to stay afloat still feels incredibly fresh, and I doubt I will ever be able to forget that nightmare.
Since the initial shock, I have been absolutely floored by the outpouring of support from our community (those close and afar). People have called, texted, and emailed their support. Many of you have purchasing products to help us during this time.
And Statesboro...man, Statesboro has been awesome. Our local customers have been so supportive. Our community has engineered incredible initiatives to support small businesses, like the Pay It Forward program made possible by the Chamber of Commerce and CORE Credit Union, or like the On and Open platform created by Pioneer and Whitfield signs.
Locals have bought food and coffee for medical professionals who are working tirelessly. Neighborhoods have welcomed our Trolley with open arms and incredible support. Businesses are working together and collaborating on a level I have never witnessed. Customers are leaving RIDONKULOUS tips to support our incredible staff. Many organizations (such as the Chamber, DSDA, Business Innovation Group, the SBDC, and more) have worked tirelessly to keep small businesses informed about relief options.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I have a whole new level of gratitude for this incredible community. There is only one Statesboro and I am insanely proud to live here. Erk Russell's word's about Statesboro never rang so true.
"And folks, you just can't beat that and you just can't beat Georgia Southern. And you ain't seen nothing yet!"
On behalf of Three Tree and other small businesses...THANK YOU!
- Philip Klayman