PITTSTON TWP. — Small business success stories don’t come around often, so it is only appropriate that one local business has been recognized for its longevity.
Virginia & Co., located at 77 S. Main St., was honored by the the Small Business Merchants Association (SBMA) this week for its 30-plus years in business.
SBMA is coordinated by the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce and is comprised of owners of small business in Greater Pittston with the purpose of promoting their businesses while helping others do the same.
“As a small business, you go through a lot,” said Jane Chropowicki, owner of Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio in Pittston and founder of the organization. “You go through some ups and downs, whether it’s your first day and you’re attracting people to come into your business or if you’re handling all of these people coming in and trying to accommodate everyone.
“I have the honor to introduce owners of the business that’s been in business for over 30 years, and definitely she’s experienced the ups and downs with her business and ups and downs with the City of Pittston,” Chropowicki said. “Through that time, she was very successful by being dedicated to her business, being dedicated to her family and her extended business family.”
Virginia & Co. was founded by sisters Virginia and Rose Despirito in 1987 after their parents helped them buy the building in which the salon is currently housed.
Virginia said the difference between Pittston then and Pittston now is like night and day.
“We’ve been in Pittston when Pittston was at its worst,” she said. “It was just a dilapidated town. It’s such an honor to be there now when Pittston is at its finest. I wish I was younger because I started off with a one chair salon and now we’re joined with Jane, my sister, her daughter Bianca Tuttle who is quite talented. I think about back in the day, if I had this, what a success.”
Virginia, who resides in Lackawanna County but still calls herself a Pittston girl, recalled when the city was a laughing stock due to all of the fires.
“Everybody would make fun of our little town,” she said. “It was the arson town; what building is going to go up next? It really was a bad time, so to have people from my area, from the Lackawanna area and Scranton say, ‘Wow, we’re modeling our town after your town. I can’t believe how beautiful things look.’ That’s quite an honor.”
Society has changed thanks to technology with most of the world living through social media. While Virginia & Co. can be found on Facebook, one of the things that Chropowicki said makes them so successful is the personal touch it has with customers.
“(Virginia) is building that bond and building that bond by the tried and true formula of I come to work everyday and I work really hard at my business,” she said. “A small business is personality driven and it’s her personality showing through no matter what.”
As for what really helps drive the business, Virginia said it’s all about the customers.
“We have the most loyal customer base,” she said. “We do a lot of old-fashioned business and we provide a really nice atmosphere. We always have coffee on and we always go above and beyond. My sister, if someone doesn’t have a ride, she’ll go and pick them up. Pittston people are the greatest; I mean we have people that come from all over, but Pittston people are pretty loyal.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher