Berkeley business owners uplift each other during Small Business Saturday

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The holiday shopping season has officially begun. Black Friday follows Small business Saturday. The event is in its 14th year and is a day where customers are encouraged to spend their money at local small businesses.

College Street in Berkeley is lined with small businesses, each with its own story.

“It’s almost a one-stop shop for gifts and books,” said Jessica Green, owner of Mrs. Dalloway’s Books. “Here is a book for people of all ages.

Jessica and her husband, Eric Green, know people can turn to Amazon instead. But their bookstore is busy with holiday shoppers looking for a more personal gift.

“We want it to be an experience. It’s not just a quick way to find something. And we have experienced booksellers here to give advice and guidance,” Green said.

Mrs. Dalloway offers free gift wrapping and features local authors and artists in the store.

It was an effort to uplift other small business owners that inspired Randy Wells to open that unique pop-up shop down the street.

“Small business is the backbone of any country. Economy. And the more small businesses we have, the more those dollars will be recycled in the community. “We’re able to hire more people, we’re able to supply our needs through local suppliers, and the city is able to use those revenues and even taxes to fund programs like education, public services, public health,” said Wells’ owner, Rockridge.

Rockridge is a clothing brand named after the neighborhood where he grew up. But the pop-up shop is more than just a retail space. It’s a place for innovators and entrepreneurs to gather, perform and learn.

Wells hosts workshops with business advisory group ICA Fund. The next one is December 1st.

“They can give you access to capital so we can have more small businesses, and they give you mentorship and the resources you need to succeed. East Bay” said Wells.

It is important not only to buy less, but also to eat less.

Cara Hammond, owner of Cafe Baker and Commons, said people have been craving community interaction since the pandemic. Even though takeout or delivery is just a tap away, people are still choosing to patronize small restaurants like hers.

“A lot of the shops here, the owners are working in the shops, so you come in and you’re buying from someone and you’re supporting their family and their livelihood. You know it’s a cycle, you’re giving back. They’re giving back to them, and they’re giving back to the community, and it moves everybody up and forward,” Hammond said.

The cafe was built as a community space, without electrical outlets, so people could interact.

“We’re not creating a place where people are plugged into their computer all the time, we’re creating an active environment where people can talk to each other, and have those healthy debates about what’s going on in the world and stuff. That’s how it is,” Hammond said.

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