On April 2 in the newly remodeled event space at the Satellite Telework Center in Felton, radio host and discoverHer founder Monica Karst interviewed three new Felton business owners - Lauren Fay of Capulet, Cherme Wurtz of CC Apothecary, and Selena Zontos of Skavenge Art. Satellite owner Barbara Sprenger hosted and San Lorenzo Valley Chamber of Commerce director Christy Shults coordinated the event. The group will celebrate their new ventures at a progressive ribbon cutting on Wednesday, April 17 at 5:30pm in downtown Felton along with Amber Duncan at Mountainside Made and Angela Gibbons at Tomboy Outpost.
With the recent opening of dozens of new businesses in the San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley, our mountain region is seeing a boom in new small business enterprises and commercial remodels. Why the uptick in business starts? According to Barbara Mason, Economic Development Coordinator for the County of Santa Cruz, a shift in the retail model opened up spaces in downtown corridors such as Felton. Traditional shops struggled while those with an e-commerce and online marketing strategy found opportunity.
“Shops that adopt a hybrid model - brick and mortar with an online sales component - can boost their bottom lines 29% on average. Businesses that do not get with the program are being left behind.” Mason said. “And in an interesting shift, it is online retailers who are now looking for a brick and mortar operation to further showcase their wares.”
Four of the five new Felton businesses offer an online shopping opportunity for buyers and the fifth will likely follow suit. Lauren Fay at Capulet, a clothing and shoe store, uses Shopify and embeds items for purchase on her business Facebook page. Amber Duncan of Mountainside Made sells handcrafted jewelry on her website. Tomboy Outpost’s Angela Gibbons refers buyers to her Instagram page. And Skavenge Art’s Selena Zontos showcases her unique skateboard art on a variety of social media platforms.
Mason says that local businesses don’t have to start from scratch or have extensive technical experience. eBay, Etsy, and Shopify provide automated sales frameworks. Santa Cruz startup Sellhound facilitates the online selling process with an app. Local small business advisory agencies such as Santa Cruz County Small Business Development Center and SCORE Mentors provide no-cost training in selling online.
In addition to the new businesses in Felton, Boulder Creek recently welcomed Treehouse Cafe and Bella’s Cafe. A new salon is set to open next month. “There are still commercial spaces for rent, and the Boulder Creek Business Association (BCBA) is happy to help prospective entrepreneurs find vacant places to start a new business,” said Justin Acton, president at the BCBA.
Scotts Valley has seen an increase in new businesses with the opening of the Four Points Sheraton on Scotts Valley Drive. Chiropractors Dr. Robert J. Adams and Dr. Kyle Hardwick, both Scotts Valley High School graduates, returned home to open new practices. The Scotts Valley Chamber will host ribbon cuttings for a new Starbucks on Mount Hermon Road April 18 at 5:30pm and one for Kissed by an Angel Wines in their newly remodeled location at Pinnacle Pass on April 25 at 5:00pm.