Sibling rivalry happens when the siblings are in a similar activity and they both want to be the best. But what happens when those siblings are in different careers? Well, they’re both the best. The Best of South Georgia 2017, to be exact.
Monkey Britches Boutique opened in March of 2015 after an obvious need for affordable children’s clothing in our area. Tomlinson Body Shop opened in 1971 and has been repairing automobiles in our community ever since. Monkey Britches Boutique, voted Best Place to Buy Children’s Clothes, and Tomlinson Body Shop, voted Best Auto Body Shop, couldn’t be more different as far as services provided. But, these businesses do have one similarity: they are owned by siblings raised to know what it means to treat people with respect. Those siblings are Vicki Tomlinson Rountree (Monkey Britches), and Stacy and Brian Tomlinson (Tomlinson Body Shop).
Joyce and BJ Tomlinson started Tomlinson Body Shop in 1971 at their house. The business was a family affair as they would all deliver repaired cars after dinner and help in the shop. They built their shop by hand at home and started on a journey with their four children. With their limited space and resources at home, it became clear they needed more room for their business to grow. Ralph Norris owned the used car lot in Hahira at the time and encouraged the Tomlinsons to move to Hahira. He needed repair work done on his cars and could give them a head start with their new body shop. Mr. Norris turned out to be the reassurance they needed.
In 1976, the body shop moved to Hahira and started building their customer base. While they were in transition to Hahira, the Tomlinsons were advised this type of business would not succeed in Hahira. They take great pride in the fact that it has not only succeeded but is still thriving today. “We gained the confidence of our community and built a trust between us and our customers.” Word of mouth was how their entire business was built. Most people found the Tomlinsons by hearing their friends talk about their experiences. That’s their definition of success: pleased customers coming back and sending others. BJ says, “No matter how big or small the job, always give 100%. If you do that, that’s about all you can do.” If they could go back and change anything, they would have trusted God more. “He [BJ] always said we didn’t own the business, we just rented it from Him [God]. I think it would’ve gone a little smoother if we had trusted God more in the beginning.” When asked what they are most proud of, it’s their legacy that is being carried on through their children in their respective businesses.
Do they think it was a coincidence that their children won “Best Of” in their respective categories? According to Joyce, “There’s not a book of rules to raising kids and I guess we raised them the way we were raised: to respect others and work hard. I don’t think it was coincidence because they all respect their upbringing, they respect us, and they respect their customers. I think they worked hard and respected their background.” BJ adds, “All four of them (the Tomlinsons have another daughter; Tisha) give 100% in what they do. That’s what makes anything successful, I think, is give it 100% and that’s all you can do.” They both agree, not a day goes by they don’t talk about how proud they are of all four of their children. “You have to be proud of them,” Joyce says, “I’m really just thankful they are all making the next generation better by passing on what they know. There is so much that isn’t getting passed on, it’s being lost.” She feels blessed to have grown up in a family oriented town. Also, to have held onto that enough to pass it on. “Hahira is growing and it’s going to get a lot bigger but carrying on the small town feel in the next generation is a big legacy. Our desire is to see small town, family owned businesses have a place in the future.”