Editors Note: South Georgia Today is pleased to present this limited run series, Hahira’s Working Women. This series will focus on the amazing women who own or manage a business in Hahira, or hold a position of leadership within this small community. These articles will run twice a week until all of these amazing women have told their stories. You won’t want to miss a single one of these stories.
A native of Hahira, Vicki Rountree was raised during a time when the street lights told you it was time to go home, and a spanking was a common form of punishment. There were no electronics, and talking on the phone meant only being able to walk as far as the cord would allow. They were the “good old days” where respect was earned and treating others the way you wanted to be treated was the Golden Rule. Her easy-going nature calmly masks the powerhouse that keeps Vicki constantly on her toes and looking for the next opportunity to bring out the best of the Hahira community.
As a single parent, she worked hard to raise her two kids while working long hours as a pharmaceutical sales rep. After nearly 20 years in the business, she chose to retire and follow her heart. In 2015, she opened Monkey Britches Boutique and brought her dream to life. Running a business and customer service were nothing new to Vicki. Her father started Tomlinson Body Shop at their home in the country, and built it on hard work and taking care of the customer. Growing up watching her parents is where she began to learn the value of quality workmanship and professional customer service.
When it came to an understanding of the fundamental concepts of business, Vicki knew and understood the importance of taking care of her customers. They need to feel as if they are the most essential part of your business and their needs should be met quickly and efficiently, allowing them to find what they need without having to wait. She strives to offer the highest level of customer service possible, making each customer feel that they and their purchase are valuable to her business, no matter how small or large.
Opening Monkey Britches allowed her to not only embrace her vision of being a successful business owner, but she was able to provide Hahira residents with something they needed and valued. She offers top quality children’s clothing that is age-appropriate and affordable. She designed the store to be family friendly and added the whimsical touch of sock monkeys, vintage toys, and other unique pieces of décor that makes Monkey Britches one of the most popular stores in town.
In addition to the collection of monkeys scattered throughout the store, Vicki incorporated the monkey theme in other ways as well. The Monkey Toes shoe department and Monkey Due baby registry are simple touches that she created to tie everything together. While decorating her store, she has allowed the rich history of her building to remain front and center. The high ceiling, brick walls, and unique layout are reminiscent of days gone by when Overstreet’s Drug Store called it home in the 1940s.
One of Vicki’s newest roles is that of Publisher for South Georgia Today (SGT). She manages the online publication in a small area at the back of Monkey Britches. Although she never saw herself as a publisher, per se, she loves the job knowing the impact that SGT will have on both Hahira and the surrounding communities. Lynn Loftus, SGT’s sales manager, says, “Vicki treats all her employees as equals and expresses we are a team, and we will learn and grow together. She is an extraordinary person to work for. Not only does Vicki talk the talk, but she also walks the walk and gives you 110% all the time. She knows her WHY!”
Driven by her love of history and passion for working with the community, Vicki Rountree continues to be a leader in the community. She mentors young entrepreneurs and offers advice and guidance to other business owners who come to her with their thoughts and ideas. As past President of the Hahira Merchants Association and a current Director of the Downtown Development Authority, Vicki uses her passion for Hahira to encourage entrepreneurs to explore the benefits of opening a business in the community. Her goal is to help guide that growth so that Hahira continues to thrive and develop.
“I love Hahira with my whole heart. Growing up in this amazing community instilled a sense of pride in me that I never lost, even when I wasn’t living here. We all know that growth is inevitable for Hahira; it’s here now. I desire to see some order to our growth so that it is what is best for this community. We all know, if you ain’t growing, you’re dying. My mission is to see that we not only survive, but thrive. My love for Hahira goes beyond words.” she said.
She has broadened her community service to include serving as Chairman of the Greater Lowndes Planning Commission so that she can help ensure that strategic growth in Hahira and Lowndes County. In addition, she serves on the Board of the Georgia Sherriff’s Boys Ranch, and has just recently joined the Salvation Army board.
Elise Pierce of the Looking Glass in downtown Hahira knows the efforts Vicki continues to put into the Hahira community. She says, “ Vicki goes above and beyond to help other Hahira businesses be successful. She leads numerous community events and is always looking for opportunities to bring growth and excitement to our town.”
Both Vicki and her husband Stacy, also a Hahira native, love the history of their community and have worked hard to maintain the heritage of not only their building but other buildings as well. Two years ago, they purchased their “dream” home; a beautiful historic home built in 1906. “It’s like waking up in a bed and breakfast every morning”, said Vicki.
They understand how things get lost in time and have made it a point to maintain the values and principles they were raised with. She continues to instill those values in her children as well as her grandsons, Wilder and Bennett. With all of the hats Vicki Rountree wears in the community and at home, nothing is more precious to her than being “Wivi.” As a loving grandmother and successful businesswoman, she hopes she can continue the legacy her parents started by passing it on to future generations.
Her primary goal at this point in her life is ensuring that all she does glorifies God. She and her husband, along with God’s encouragement, have decided the season of owning Monkey Britches is coming to a close. Many have asked Vicki what her plans are after Monkey Britches has sold. She responds quite surprisingly to those who know her well when she says, “I have no idea, I am just waiting on God to show me my next great adventure.”