Like many businesses in north Georgia, A Touch of Country Magic operates on a seasonal schedule. The company makes handcrafted, scented brooms, pine cones, and wreaths, and production for the holidays shifts into a higher gear in June.
“I don’t focus on sales during the off-season,” says Carol Tucker, CEO of the Cleveland-based company, “but we need to get an early start. As in times gone by, we make our products by hand, handling each broom at least nine times. That requires more people.”
Consequently, her employment rolls can jump from single digits to 75 – 125 workers.
“We hire a lot of ‘second chance’ people,” she says, “meaning people who have been in jail or struggled with substance abuse or had some other setback in their lives. Those people have a hard time finding employment. In most cases, they made one mistake. We all make mistakes. They can get a second chance here, an opportunity to rejoin the work-force.”
Support from ACE has enabled Country Magic, which started in 1983, to pay those desperately needed salaries, she says.
“We’re a strange, little company – a real niche business,” Tucker says with a laugh. “Nobody else does what we do. Small businesses have had it rough for the past few years. When the banks won’t help, you have to get creative in your financing. ACE has stepped up in a way that enabled us to grow each year.”
In fact, those fragrant brooms – devised by a whimsical “mountain troll,” according to company lore – are sold by national retailers such as Publix, Kroger, Ingles, Dollar General, and Walgreen’s.
The products, which rely on natural oils, offer a kind of aromatherapy as well as decoration, she says. Cinnamon is the favorite, but the company has expanded to offer other scents, too.
“Cinnamon has all kinds of health benefits,” Tucker says, “especially with breathing and asthma. We keep our products inexpensive and renewable so everyone can afford them to make their homes warm and inviting.”
Tucker also notes a Bible verse, from the book of Exodus, that extols the properties of cinnamon.
“We like to think of our company as a way of paying forward our blessings,” she says, by “helping people who need help, whether it’s with paying light bills or just breathing a little easier.”