Our 2010 Small Business Awards

Break the chains! From a spunky salon to a 100-year-old speakeasy, our annual salute to small business highlights local entrepeneurs who blow away the competition

Deena Davenport of Glama-Rama, our 2010 Woman in Business
Photo by Pat Mazzera. Additional photos by Ben Hopfer


The mallification of America continues apace, with faceless conglomerates training new generations of shoppers to look for the cheapest deals at bland big box outlets, regardless of what "cheap" might actually mean in terms of pollution, transportation, labor, and the local economy. (For starters, out of every $100 dollars spent at a big box, only $43 remains in the local economy, compared to $68 if you buy local.) But in San Francisco at least, the little guys keep on swinging, maintaining unique shops and service companies with a vibrant local feel and contributing to the patchwork of optimism, individuality, and community effort that make the city great. Each year, we honor several of them for sticking to their guns and pursuing their visions.




"The higher the hair, the closer to God," a wise Southern drag queen once said. Here in San Francisco, one of our own heavenly salons, Glama-Rama, is about to get a whole lot more divine, expanding from its homey kitsch digs in SoMa to a new 2500 square foot space on Valencia Corridor, creating 16 new jobs. The driving force behind that expansion is owner Deena Davenport, who combined her hairdressing talent, natural business acumen, and deep connection to the local arts scene into a formula for sheer success when she opened Glama-Rama 11 years ago.

"My dream was not to have a business, but a community space," Davenport told me. "I wanted a place for all my gifted friends to express themselves. Not just our excellent stylists, but artists, designers, musicians, event producers — we all came together to make this happen. I think that's the key to our success. We work with all kinds of styles and we don't price ourselves out of the nonprofit sector. That allows a great mix of clientele, and an element of comfort for everyone."

Davenport, a creative blur, plans to kickstart a Valencia Corridor merchants association once she gets settled in, and dreams of a future in politics. (She currently hosts a show on Pirate Cat Radio and appears onstage in local productions.) "I'm fortunate to have always had great friends and great landlords — and to be in a business the Internet can't compete with," she says.

"By the way, the new space will be two shades of cream with gold accents," Davenport adds, ever the stylish professional. "We're taking off our Doc Martens and putting on some heels." (Marke B.)


304 Valencia, SF






It's no secret that nightlife in San Francisco has taken a big hit lately. A combination of economic woes and persistent crackdowns by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and local police, a.k.a. the War on Fun, has taken its toll — even on 100-year-old live-venue mainstays like Café Du Nord.

"It's been tough for us and for everyone out there," says Guy Carson, who took over the space with Kerry LaBelle in 2003. "They don't call it 'hard times' for nothing. But we love what we do, and we know how to run a quality business. I've been promoting live shows since I was nine years old, so you know it's what I love. You have to be willing to weather the storms."