- 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
EMPLOYEE-OWNED BUSINESS AWARD
RED VIC MOVIE HOUSE
"Once it got going, it was like a perpetual-motion machine. And I have to say, I think it was the collective nature of the thing that's kept the Red Vic going this long," says Jack Rix, long time worker and cofounder of the Red Vic Movie House, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
The Red Vic's employees put a lot into the neighborhood theater's showings of unique and classic flicks. Each worker-owner does a little of everything, from sweeping the lobby floor to washing dishes. "We're all utility players here, this is very much a labor of love," Rix says. Launched in 1980 by community organizers, the theater's focus has not only been on providing great movies but doing it sustainably, installing solar paneling on the roof and eschewing paper products. "Back then I don't think the phrase 'green' existed," Rix recalls. "We were trying to be 'green' and we didn't even know it!"
The Red Vic's workers aren't the only ones with a certain affection for the theater's bench seating, environmentally friendly ceramic coffee mugs, and wooden popcorn bowls. Rix says some Upper Haight residents will wait for blockbusters to make their way out of "corporate" movie cinemas to the Red Vic's second-run screen. "We're very much a community theater," he says proudly. (Donohue)
RED VIC MOVIE HOUSE
1727 Haight, SF
CHAIN ALTERNATIVE AWARD
Nestled in a part of the city best known for its tiny pastel homes and bracing sea breezes, Ocean Beach's Other Avenues is everything you could desire in a neighborhood grocery store: Warm atmosphere, vast swaths of bulk food bins, and a well-edited health food selection, including vitamins, medicines, and cheery shelves of produce. Plus health insurance for all its knowledgeable employees.
Trader who? No need for big box stores near Other Avenues, which has earned a loyal clientele in the 36 years since it first opened its doors. "Since we're a co-op, I like to think of us as a giant organism," says Other Avenues worker Ryan Bieber. "Occasionally we lose parts and regrow them. A lot of customers have been coming here for 10, 20 years." Their loyalty might be in response to Other Avenues' commitment to keeping its beachside clientele healthy and well. "The aim is to make sure that people have access to things like this," says Bieber.
Asked what he thinks would happen if one of the chain grocery behemoths encroaches on the shop's territory, Bieber is unconcerned. "I think people will come here regardless. [We] have been doing this forever and we take pretty good care of ourselves. I think our customers really respond to that. We wouldn't want a world where there was only Whole Foods — that'd be too boring!" (Donohue)
3930 Judah, SF
ARTHUR JACKSON DIVERSITY IN SMALL BUSINESS AWARD