Being a business owner in this community isn’t always as lovey-dovey as one might imagine. Ask Larry Glass. He has owned The Works, a record store in Old Town Eureka, for 38 years, and has a second shop in Arcata. He also is a Eureka City Council member who opposes big-box development on the waterfront —which happens to be in the same neighborhood as his business.
Glass says there’s a strange love/hate relationship between the Eureka community and small businesses.
“Half of the people want us to stay, and half absolutely resent us,” he said. “I guess they are missing out on their share of the big city experience.”
What’s a small, local business to do?
Last week, The Humboldt Independent Business Alliance launched a campaign to get people to vow to shop at local mom and pop stores, like Glass’, for one week straight. Called “Independents Week,” it was a social experiment to make community members think about where they’re shopping and where that money is ultimately ending up. According to the American Independent Business Alliance, money spent at local stores circulates through the community three times more than money spent at, say, a Target.
“The whole point is to make people more conscious, more deliberate in their purchasing choices from day to day,” said Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, the organizer of the event and spokesperson for HumIBA. The organization plans to have a directory of local businesses put together by November.
In Arcata, you won’t see any chain stores on the Plaza, nor many elsewhere. In 2002, the City of Arcata passed an ordinance limiting the number of franchise stores to only nine. Most of them are tucked away off Giuntoli. That Arcata City Council meeting was featured in the documentary “The Corporation.”
At the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, Sopoci-Belknap was set up on the lawn with the HumIBA crew. Like Glass, she sometimes notices a rift in the community. “It’s a time of change,” she said. “People think it’s one or the other, big box lined up block to block or a bunch of hippies running around everywhere or something.”