“Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.”
story by Jordan Pupa | photography by Jonathan Boatwright
We’ve all heard this advice many times, but Tammy Lewis has brought it to life with her passion for Mullins, SC. Tammy has been a resident of Mullins for 52 years and has had the opportunity to see its changes and growth over the years. Today she contributes so much to Mullins. Not only is she the Chamber of Commerce President, but she is also a wife, mother, grandmother, business owner, and manager amongst many other roles. She strives to see Mullins prosper again and puts in the hard work to make it happen.
Tammy knew she wanted to own a business for several years and researched the best types of business for small towns. She opened Lillie K’s Collections in 2013, a trendy women’s clothing and accessories boutique located on Main Street. Tammy’s daughter, Whitney, is the manager at Lillie K’s, while Tammy manages the financial aspects of the business. Her favorite part of owning the shop is the great, supportive customers and meeting new people who stop in.
210 Vintage Market, which carries antiques, vintage, and refurbished items, was opened for business in September 2018. “My sister, Sherry Owens, and I have a love of “junk” and antiques and the opportunity came up for the building we are currently leasing,” explains Tammy. “We rent vendor spaces in the shop so that other “Junk Gypsies” can join us!”
In addition to taking part in her more recent ventures, Tammy has worked at JR Battle & Co since January of 2006 and is currently the Manager. She has worked in several places in her lifetime but describes this job as being one of the most rewarding experiences. “My duties include managing the warehouse during tobacco season for Safe Marketing, LLC, maintaining all financial records of several businesses including accounts receivable, accounts payable and payroll, as well as, maintaining crop insurance policies for farmers,” she shares. “This is a very rewarding job because I have a great working relationship with our farmers and R J Reynolds Tobacco Company.”
Tammy’s duties do not end there. She became the President of the Mullins Chamber this year after serving on the Board of Directors. “As a business owner in Mullins, I realized the importance of “loving where you live, work and play.” Being a part of this organization has been so rewarding. We have one of the best Board of Directors who shares my passion for our community, and they are all dedicated to making Mullins the best it can be and marketing our local businesses.” Tammy appreciates the support from her Executive Director, Michele Coleman Rogers, and Mayor, Bo McMillan, who share the same passion and help make things happen.
The Chamber Board strives to involve their local businesses and citizens by hosting several events throughout the year. Tammy states, “With the loss of so much industry and the downsize of Tobacco in our area, we are starting to see Mullins come alive again with new businesses and new residents who believe in our great city.” Chamber events throughout the year include their Annual Banquet, Legislative Breakfast, Easter Egg-stravaganza, Chamber Golf Tournament, Let’s Cruise Main Street, Cruise, Shuck & Shag Event, and Hometown Holidays in Mullins, which includes Late Night Shopping and Breakfast with Santa. “All of these events are a great way to showcase our local businesses with advertising and marketing sponsorships,” explains Tammy. The Chamber is working to start the Mullins Activation Committee (MAC) again, which assists commercial property owners with façade grants. The program has been idle for a number of years.
Tammy was also recommended to the Governor of South Carolina by the Marion County Delegation to serve on the Marion County Voter Registration and Elections Board as a Commissioner in October 2017. She is currently serving her district in Marion County. In addition, she was recently appointed to the Wildlife Action National Board of Directors.
While Tammy’s plate is full with her job, businesses, and community service, she describes it as being very rewarding. “You have to meet your obligations to all of them while putting God and your family first. It is very time-consuming with all of the demands, but I have a very supportive husband and family.” Tammy also has an 8-year-old granddaughter, Lillie Grace, who is a huge part of her life. “I make time to be a part of any and everything she does including school, dance, church, and softball.”
The growth of Mullins over the past few years is exciting for everyone. “We are bringing tourists into town that are eating in our restaurants, touring the SC Tobacco Museum and, most importantly, patronizing our businesses.” Tammy encourages parents to get their children, our future leaders, involved in their community at an early age and to teach them the importance of community service. She also encourages readers, no matter where they live, to support their local businesses. “We want to keep our dollars in the local economy in order for businesses and our City to survive. As the saying goes, “It takes a Village”, so please give some of your time to your community. It’s the only way to GROW!”