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photo by: Photo by Eric Ayres

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Jay Hercules of Opossum Pouch Soft Goods in Wheeling took residence the prime prize Tuesday evening throughout the newest Show of Hands crow-funding occasion made to help neighborhood little companies and entrepreneurs. Presented by Wheeling Heritage, the competitors raised $five,312 to assistance the entrepreneur with the winning pitch invest in the development of their enterprise.

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WHEELING – Sturdy goods with a Created in America stamp and hometown pride woven into the fabric helped Opossum Pouch Soft Goods at the newest Show of Hands competitors Monday evening in Wheeling.

Jay Hercules, owner of the neighborhood shop specializing in handmade outside goods, took the prime prize more than 3 other outstanding Wheeling entrepreneurs, artisans and enterprise owners who have been finalists in the newest installment of Show of Hands.

Presented by Wheeling Heritage in conjunction with the Wheeling Location Chamber of Commerce, this round of the well known fundraising occasion aids neighborhood entrepreneurs develop their companies. Attendees on hand at the Wheeling Artisan Center spend $five admission and obtain a ballot to vote for their preferred pitch from each and every of the participating enterprise owners.

Also participating in this Show of Hands competitors and generating their pitches prior to a capacity crowd Monday evening have been Helen Bradley of the Concept Center in Warwood, artist Mindi Yarbrough of Wildheart by Mindi and basic manager Shelley Smedley of Wheeling Coffee and Spice. All contestants created compelling pitches, but it was Hercules who knocked the pitch out of the park.

“I’ve lived in Wheeling my complete life,” Hercules mentioned. “I grew up in West Liberty. One particular of the factors I’m genuinely proud to be opened up in Wheeling is for the reason that we applied to have a extended history of generating factors in this town. So when I had the ‘Made in the USA’ stamp created, it says ‘Made in Wheeling, W.Va., USA.,’ and there’s a explanation for that. I want individuals to know that I’m generating stuff in Wheeling.”

That passionate hometown pride and unapologetic patriotism noticeably took the air out of the area and filled it with a breath of fresh air, causing the crowd to erupt in boisterous applause.

Hercules mentioned that when the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, Americans came collectively and stepped to the plate – like the individuals who lived and worked right here in the valley.

“Wheeling, like the rest of America, was a slumbering giant that woke up in that moment,” he mentioned. “And although all of these other guys from across our nation went to war, Wheeling went to war. Wheeling waged war with sector.

“That’s one thing we’re missing in Wheeling nonetheless – our efficient industries that present jobs.”

Opossum Pouch Soft Goods is a little enterprise, but it is a increasing one particular, Hercules mentioned. They take raw supplies and make sturdy goods out of it – goods so sturdy they hope individuals will use for a lifetime and pass down for continued use to future generations.

“We make outside goods for campers, hunters, fishermen that are classic, canvas-style outside goods,” Hercules mentioned. “Backpacks are generally a steady seller, haversacks are a major seller and of course all of our little products – pouches, drawstring bags and tiny factors like that can be applied to organize gear with.”

Hercules has far more than 40 years of sewing practical experience, and even though the enterprise presently consists of himself and a handful of committed supporters, the enterprise is increasing. It has a physical place at 1003 Most important St. and also has an on the web presence with a client base that has currently reached 11 nations across the globe.

“I genuinely enjoy performing this,” he mentioned. “I’m passionate about what I do.”

The shop tends to make a selection of rugged outside goods, like a specialty item that was born as a neighborhood version of a shemagh – big tactical desert scarf worn as a neck and face wrap by native individuals in Middle Eastern nations and adopted by military troops stationed in these places. To fill requests for these wraps, Hercules invented the “shemandanna” – a cross involving a shemagh and bandanna – with an American outdoorsman style.

Explaining a customer’s order of this exclusive item, Hercules became emotional, noting that he sold 18 of them to a client — in Israel, exactly where the client could have quickly obtained one particular locally.

“That’s exactly where they’re from,” Hercules mentioned, holding back tears. “That was almost certainly one particular of my proudest moments – I’ve got a shemagh in Israel. That is just dumbfounding.”

Winning Show of Hands will assistance Hercules bring 90 % of his production in-residence so he can bring charges down and make even far more items.

“Right now, I have buyers that I cannot meet the demand for the reason that I cannot make rapidly adequate,” he mentioned.

Hercules mentioned the subsequent step in increasing his enterprise will involve the obtain of a new clicker press and cutting dies to assistance improve his production efficiency and capacity. His victory at Show of Hands will assistance improve the obtain price range to get the very best tools he can.

“I want to grow to be as self-reliant as feasible,” he mentioned, noting that ultimately as the enterprise grows, he hopes to be capable to employ employees to assistance him make even far more goods and expand the enterprise. Hercules mentioned he desires Opossum Pouch Soft Goods to grow to be that “new vanguard of sector in Wheeling that is a clean, enough, self-sustaining sector that is a great steward of the neighborhood that provides one thing back.”

Proper now, the enterprise is operating in the black, and earnings are becoming poured back into the enterprise to assistance with its continued development.

“Jay’s taking residence a verify for $five,312, so give yourselves a round of applause for that,” Wheeling Heritage System Manager Alex Panas told the crowd, noting that all of the bought votes from attendees all went to the winner’s prize.

For far more info about the crowd-funding Show of Hands events and other neighborhood initiatives supported by Wheeling Heritage, go to wheelingheritage.org.

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