- This Week
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
05.04.10 - 3:09 pm | Guardian Staff Writers |
Deena Davenport of Glama-Rama, our 2010 Woman in BusinessPhoto by Pat Mazzera. Additional photos by Ben Hopfer
Independent booksellers are a wonder. Up against giant chains like Wal-Mart, facing technological changes like Kindle and online behemoths like Amazon.com (which doesn't even have to pay state sales taxes), it's hard to believe they can even survive. Yet they do — in fact, the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association keeps growing.
"The mainstream press wants to write about bookstores closing," Calvin Crosby, NCIBA's vice president, told me. "But actually, stores are opening. We have two new members this year."
The booksellers group keeps the small, community-based stores in the public eye, with promotions, events like the annual NCIBA awards (see page 28) and political lobbying (NCIBA is a big supporter of a bill by Assembly Member Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, that would force Amazon to pay sales tax).
One of the group's biggest tasks is education — reminding the public that local bookstores serve a critical function. "I was at a book-signing recently with a major author, and a bunch of people showed up with books they bought on Amazon and they wanted to trade them for signed copies," Crosby, who is community relations director at Books Inc., recalled. "I had to explain to all of them that Amazon doesn't pay taxes and hurts the locals."
And with 300 bookseller members, NCIBA is helping preserve the notion that buying a book from someone who actually cares about books is an idea whose time will never pass. (Redmond)
1007 General Kennedy, SF.
SMALL BUSINESS ADVOCATE AWARD
"Money spent in a small business — far, far more of it stays here in the neighborhood than with a chain store," says Keith Goldstein, president of the Potrero Hill Association of Merchants and Businesses. A Potrero Hill resident since 1974, and owner of Everest Waterproofing and Restoration, Inc., Goldstein has spent the last six years with the merchant's association promoting a sense of community in the inclined blocks of Potrero.
He's overseen the growth of the Potrero Hill Festival from what he calls "a small affair" to a yearly event that's "great for residents and businesses," and also serves on the Eastern Neighborhood Advisory Committee, where he works on issues, like new transit plans, that affect local businesses.
Somehow he has found the time to start SEEDS (www.nepalseeds.org), a group that provides infrastructure and health support to underserved Tibetan villages, and is involved in Food Runners (www.foodrunners.org), an organization that links homeless shelters to food sources.
The superlative community member incorporates the 'buy local' mentality into every aspect of his life, even placing the administration of the health care plan for his 50 employees into the hands of a fellow Potrero Hill Merchant's Association member. "It's all richly rewarding," Goldstein says of his hands-on role in his neighborhood's economic viability. "I like to walk around the hill and be able to chat with my neighbors about quality of life issues." (Caitlin Donohue)
Potrero Hill Association of Merchants and Businesses
1459 18th St., SF.