Small Business Awards 2008

Our annual celebration of the best and brightest "little guys"
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Carolyn Coquillette of Luscious Garage
Photo by Neil Motteram

When Jean Dibble and I founded the Guardian in 1966, we came with the values of the Midwestern small business, the family farm, and the small-town community. We like to say that the Brugmann and Dibble families have been continuously in small business for more than l00 years.

My grandfather was the eighth child of a German immigrant farmer who homesteaded on 160 acres of prairie grass in northwest Iowa, near Spencer. He picked nearby Rock Rapids as the place to set up a general store-type drugstore, and he and my father spent their entire lives in the store, which was known throughout the territory as "Brugmann's Drugs, where drugs and gold are fairly sold, since l902." I started in the store at age l2, selling peanuts and stamps.

My wife Jean's family members were small-business people. Her father had lumberyards in Nebraska, and later a hardware store in Iowa.

Jean and I were delighted to find that San Francisco was a city rich in small, locally owned, independent businesses, and rich in a wide swath of neighborhoods bristling with distinctive small businesses, backed up by vigorous neighborhood small business associations.

Small business, we found, was the leading job generator in the city and the key player in building a sustainable local economy. After the l906 earthquake, it was the entrepreneurs and small businesses who lifted the city from the ashes. After the dot-com bust, it was the small-business community and vibrant neighborhoods that cushioned the blow. Today, it's up to small business again.

And so the Guardian is pleased to salute the small-business community with our fourth annual Small Business Awards. We proudly announce our seven winners, who are each in their own way working to transform the city into a green, sustainable, local economy and pulling the city out of the recession.

They struggle valiantly against daunting odds to keep their business going, their neighborhoods lively, and San Francisco an incomparably great city. Let us salute them. (Bruce B. Brugmann)

Click below to read more about this year's winners:

>>Small Green Business Award
Luscious Garage

>>Die-Hard Independent Award
Hazel's Kitchen

>>Small Business Activist Award
Scott Hauge

>>Community Business Award
El Rio

>>Big Box Alternative Award
Cole Hardware

>>Chain Alternative Award
Books and Bookshelves

>Arthur Jackson Diversity in Business Award
WAGES