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Smith worthy of chamber’s honor

The story of longtime Denton businesswoman Judy Smith would make an ideal addition to any business textbook.

Smith, owner of Rose Costumes, has not only been active in the Denton business community for more than 35 years, but she’s also set a great example for small-business owners in her ability to adapt to changing market conditions and find success in a down economy.

On Friday, the Denton Chamber of Commerce honored Smith and Rose Costumes with its Small Business of the Year award, in part because the business grew 25 percent despite market challenges.

The chamber has presented the award annually since 1986 to local businesses based on both their success and their innovation and creativity in delivering products or services, chamber officials said.

We congratulate Smith on the honor, and we commend the chamber for its selection. Like we said, Smith sets a terrific example for other small-business owners, and that’s a big deal when you consider that about 75 percent of the Denton chamber’s current members employ fewer than five full-time employees.

Smith had served for several years on the committee that selected previous winners and told us she was surprised by the announcement.

“I knew what you had to do to win and I didn’t think I ever could,” Smith said.

Based on the 25 percent growth in her business, we’d say that Smith more than qualified for the “success” part of the award criteria, especially considering the economy.

Anyone who knows Smith will tell you that she’s creative, and her ability to adapt to her changing market through the years definitely qualifies her as innovative. Costume sales and rentals at Halloween once represented about a third of her annual business, but that peaked in 2007, Smith told us, thanks to a variety of factors.

She decided to focus on supplying school theater programs, filling a need for classic costumes in student productions and marketing to schools that participate in the one-act play competition with the University Interscholastic League.

Thanks to these and other innovations, Chamber officials noted, Smith and Rose Costumes had an outstanding year.

The costume shop began as a Fry Street vintage store called Secondhand Rose in 1976, selling vintage clothes, accessories and furniture. Smith stopped selling furniture in the shop on Fry Street in order to respond to customer demand to rent vintage clothes and costumes, and in 1987, she moved the shop to Elm Street and then, in 2004, to its current location at Stonehill Center, near North Loop 288 and Interstate 35.

Smith’s creativity is reflected in others ways, as well. Her adopt-a-spot on Sherman Drive is a beloved Denton landmark, chamber officials said.

Smith adopted the area 19 years ago, she said, doing things that made her smile, such as hanging shoes and pictures.

That spot had made a lot of people smile, and we thank Smith for that. We also appreciate her contributions to Denton’s economy through the years.

Considering its impact, there’s nothing small about small business. Our nation owes a lot to Smith and other innovators like her.