Economic Downsizing Spurs Concierge Business

Economic Downsizing Spurs Concierge Business

Downsizing at Total Tobacco jump-started Tabatha Collins’ entrepreneurial skills, spurring "BNC Enterprises." The single mother of three hopes that her personal concierge company will grow to the point where her calendar fills up, while leaving just enough time to spend with her children.

The "BNC" stands for "Be Encouraged" and provides inspiration.

"It reminds me to be encouraged when I'm a little down," Collins said.

This summer, when the downsizing occurred, Collins looked at everyone rushing around and got the idea to lend a helping hand. She then researched on the Internet and saw a lot of other personal services businesses, and the idea was born. After getting a business license from Fairfax County, she printed up fliers, tacked up signs and spread the word. She now has five or six clients, business cards and an income.

"I went online, and there's a lot of people doing this," she said.

BNC services include pet sitting, errands, child care, elder care, cooking, cleaning and miscellaneous.

"It's basically an extra hand," Collins said.

Springfield resident Naomi Gibson got a BNC flyer in her door just about the same time she needed transportation to her doctor's appointment. Gibson was unable to drive herself because of the medical procedure and didn't want to call a cab.

"She's been taking me to appointments because I'm not able to drive. It's more personal than a cab," Gibson said.

When Collins' calendar gets too full, her friend Sandy Larivee helps out. Larivee's sister, Kim Fellows, who is a Fairfax County Public Schools bus driver, will help out with administrative duties if needed.

Collins is a 1990 alumna of Mount Vernon High School and is pursuing a business degree at George Mason University. She lives in Manchester Lakes. With the business in the early stages now, Collins has a lot of ideas as well. She hopes to build a Web site, establish a referral list and contact apartment complexes. Geographically, she hasn't set a limit on where she'll travel but feels Maryland might be pushing it. She hasn't limited the extent of her jobs, either.

"As long as it's not too crazy," she said. "I hope to improve the way they live."