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Friday, May 15, 2009

Economic Optimism - Looking on the Bright Side

By Vesta Copestakes

It’s not all gloom and doom, recession and depression, job loss and misery. I know all about the difference between optimists and pessimists, dreamers and people whose feet are planted firmly on the ground. And I know on which side of that picture I stand. But even optimistic dreamers can have a firm grasp on reality…and I can prove it.

The Culling Process
My neighbor Marty looks at how I live and work – all the time – and wonders why I don’t get a job so I can pay my bills and have time off to play. “Look at all the skills you have! Anybody would want to hire you!” Not so, Marty.

There are those among us who simply can’t work for someone else. We’re the “gotta do it my way”… “I have to be free” risk-takers. And we pay a price for all that, it’s true. But we’re the ones who create the jobs others enjoy. You don’t get to have a job unless some person is willing to take full responsibility for not only their own lives, but everyone’s life who works for them as well. Some dreams can’t be accomplished by one person. It takes a team of people. That team are employees.

And the person at the top of that heap has to be a brave individual and think like a leader, putting themselves on the line all the time. They make decisions large and small and live with the consequences. In this economy, many people in business are trying to survive and they take one of two paths…risk-taking or playing it safe.

Playing it Safe
Leaders on this path cut back on expenses and some times that means laying off employees. They take a look at their big picture and decide where to make cuts so they can meet the bottom line and survive. What they hope for is to come out the other side of this recession alive. Many will stop promoting their businesses to save money, pull back into their shells and hope to weather the storm. This is the mama hen calling her baby chicks to huddle under her wings while she shuts her eyes to the rain and hunkers down. Some chicks don’t fit so they get left out in the rain.

Taking Risks
Other leaders look around and see wide opens spaces being revealed as competitors seem to disappear into the fog. They turn their lights on and shine it into the darkness. Anyone out there? That bright light attracts attention! A little crowd gathers around the light seeking brilliance and the comfort of confidence. These are the leaders who announce to the world that all is going to be just fine…you wait and see. They move, they expand, they paint their world in bright colors and they smile. It’s a genuine smile – not put on their face for appearances. These are the people who see opportunity in challenge and can’t help themselves but want to be part of the rising tide.

Drum Roll Please…
Economists are telling us that the Recession never became a Depression and it looks like the tide is turning. So some of the playing-it-safe leaders may survive long enough to come out to play again while others might not make it through the storm. Time will tell.

Let me introduce you to some of these bright lights to prove my point. I’m certain this is but a fraction of leaders who are rising to the top, they just happen to be people I know and admire. You may know others and you can blow their horn for attention any time in these pages. Just write me a letter and I’ll spread the word.

In downtown Sebastopol there are a few bright lights I’m especially proud of. Margaret and Sabina of Art & Soul art supplies managed to grab the space next to them when the children’s store closed. They are putting the final touches on making this their Children’s Art Annex and will even be offering office supplies, which gets many of us excited so we don’t have to go to the big box stores!

On the same side of the street Uncarved Block opened up with Pu and Paul selling both carved as well as uncarved stones, beads, etc. and an amazing collection of Grateful Dead memorabilia. Bo at People’s Music tell me that sales are UP 10% over last year, so don’t try to convince him its all a bummer. Maybe more people need to entertain themselves with music. Who knows. It’s working.

Donna at Miller’s Candy Emporium opened up in the middle of all this recession and people are flocking to her store. Hey, for $3.00 you can get a very entertaining bag of licorice. Kids just love picking out their favorites, putting them in baskets and having the tiny treasures weighed. They learn a lot about money management in the process! Donna is smart, she also offers special events and Mama Goose story telling on Saturday mornings. Icing on the cake for customers!

Right across the hall – but not for long – is Janet Rodina of Silk Moon. Janet travels for treasures and brings them home to her store. It’s a rainbow in there! From inexpensive jewelry to sparkle your wrists and ears to beautifully crafted clothing, rugs, art objects. The store is a delight to browse – but too small for all Janet wants to offer! Now that Wendy Powers of County Home has decided to move on, Janet is moving across the street to bigger digs. And if you think it’s a bummer that Wendy closed her store, you should run into the beaming-happily woman I hugged the other day!

In my little town of Forestville, we have some happy tales to tell as well! Renee of Scissorhands dog grooming decided it was time to retire and play Nana to her grandkids, She called Toni who used to be Renee’s partner and Toni moved back down from Washington to carry on the business. She cleaned the place so it’s sparkling, took over Renee’s customers and her husband planted flowers outside (he’s a landscaper for hire). Everyone is happy including the dogs Toni grooms. It’s a win/win.

And speaking of dogs, Kim and Sherry opened Almost Home Doggie Day Care in the depths of winter and the recession and are doing just fine thank you very much! Dogs get to play with others dogs all day long and owners don’t feel guilty about leaving them alone at home. Not only that, the dogs spend so much time with other dogs, they aren't aggressive when they see another dog like so many used to be! It’s good for everyone!

On the corner downtown, Sean Loundigan took over Circuit Fitness from Robert Zalenka (who still does personal training there). Sean decided the building, and town, needed to be brightened up so he and his daughter gave it a new color scheme – bright yellow and red! And Sean is just so cute (he’s single, girls!), with such a big, confident smile – you can’t miss the place now! My gym and I highly recommend it!

In downtown Guerneville, they’re playing musical chairs like they did in Duncans Mills last year. Nexus Organic Design & Floral moved into the space Memories that Linger vacated (Jennifer moved on to West County Heath), George from Guerneville Printing is moving down to the space Nexus vacated (across from Safeway), Chef Patrick is leaving Pat’s Restaurants’s small dining room and expanding into the Charizma space cross the street (everyone is happy about that!) and Jill Baba is opening up a pet supply store soon where River Mist used to be. Mixed up? Just go to downtown Guerneville and wander around. Oh yes, and on the community side, Suzanna Mayo got motivated and started the Guerneville Labor Center up at the Park and Ride on the west end of town, to encourage people to hire skilled day laborers from the center instead of off the street. This helps everyone!

In Duncans Mills, Jamie & Tom re-opened the Blue Heron, gave it a new logo and wonderful menu and brought back live music to the bar and our favorite, Sunday afternoon music on the patio. Jim Raidl of Jim & Willies Antiques decided that adding events to the Duncans Mill schedule would be a good idea, so he brought in Marla Steele pet psychic for a big event in May. And Christina of Thistledown Antiques is kicking up her catering business, Scrumptious, with special buffets at the Blue Heron (Mothers Day Brunch was incredible!)… her next one is a Solstice Dinner in June. My fave, Gloria at Weavers & Dreamers decided that in addition to expanding her children’s department in her store, she added an New2-U section, scattered throughout the store, where she sells bargain items and donates the money to local schools.

Another town getting all excited is the tiny village of Bodega where the has two Mikes (one is the new owner) two Matts and a Martin. Matt says they make a yummy hot soup, which is catching on quickly! Some of these 5 Ms will be cooking on the patio of the Bodega Country StoreCasino this summer. Elizabeth and Greg are waaaay excited to have this fresh input into town. They’ve added Open Mike Night on Thurdays and have all kinds of fun activities planned for the summer.

You want contact info for these businesses so you can see why they are such optimistic people? Scroll down and I'll provide it for you.

Oh yeah – speaking of optimistic business owners – me! I publish a monthly newspaper. All we read about is how people are going to the internet and paper newspapers are dying. Well, one of my competitors closed their doors, the Russian River Monthly, but heck, they’re happy. No more late nights meeting deadlines – they get lives now and are moving on to other ventures. There’s calm in their faces!

Me, I can’t help myself. I love what I do. People tell me all the time how much they appreciate this newspaper – and yes, they like to hold it in their hands. It’s quiet. They can read it in the garden or in the bathtub. I love the net as well, but sitting in front of a glowing screen is how I make a living. Reading is leisure. And yes, I’m expanding circulation (24,000 copies now) and reaching more communities all the time.

Taking risks. It’s what entrepreneurs do. Well – some of us. We‘ll see how it works out in the long run for those that seek shelter vs. those that jump into the storm. You know that some of us storm-chasers will get hit by lightening just as much as some shelter-seekers will get buried. You never know unless you try.

Art & Soul of Sebastopol
156 N. Main Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472

Uncarved Block
110 North Main Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472

People's Music
122 N. Main Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472

Miller's Candy Emporium
186 N Main Street Ste 120
Sebastopol, CA 95472

Silk Moon
186 N Main Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472

Henweigh Cafe
4550 Gravenstein Hwy North
Sebastopol, CA 95472

6553 Front St
Forestville, CA 95436

Almost Home Doggie Day Care
4925 gravenstein Hwy North
Sebastopol, CA 95472

Circuit Fitness
6559 Front Street
Forestville, CA 95436

Nexus Organic Design & Floral
16218 Main Street
Guerneville, CA 95446

Guerneville Printing
16442 Main Street
Guerneville, CA 95446

Chef Patrick
16236 Main St
Guerneville, CA 95446
(707) 869-9161

Guerneville Labor Center

Blue Heron
25300 Steelhead Blvd
Duncans Mills, CA 95430
(707) 865-9135

Jim & Willies Antiques
25193 State Hwy 116
Duncans Mills, CA 95430
707 865-9672

Thistledown Antiques
25171 Highway 116
Duncans Mills, CA 95430
(707) 865-1628

Weavers & Dreamers
25200 Highway 116
Duncans Mills, CA 95430
(707) 865-2715

Bodega Country Store
17190 Bodega Hwy
Bodega, CA 94922
(707) 377-4056

The Casino
Bodega Hwy
Bodega, CA 94922

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