“We have very few corporate-owned businesses here in town, and I think that is some of the reason we are doing OK,” said Barbara Mason, Oakley’s economic and redevelopment director. “Even the biggest economists in the world will tell you that the economic survival mode will happen on the backs of small businesses.”
Business owner Jan Calahan thinks so, too. The owner and operator of Oak Tree Embroidery has recently moved from Main Street to the Raley’s Shopping Center’s greater showroom space and available parking. Calahan said the economic outlook for her business remains bright.
“We pretty much have stayed with our same customers and clients,” said Calahan, whose business specializes in customized clothing and accessories. “Yes, we are kind of a luxury item, but people are still doing youth sports and buying letterman jackets and wearing their logos on corporate clothing. I think there’s a lot of hope out there for the economy, and people are just trying to stay steady.”
Surjeet Boparai, owner of Boparai Plaza, located on the corner of East Cypress Road and Main Street, is filling up his four storefronts despite a tepid economy. He has recently signed Floral Designs and a Weinersnitchel hot dog shop, and is negotiating with a nail salon and medical office for tenant space.
“We’re filling it up with smaller businesses, which is great,” said Boparai. “I was at first hoping for a national chain, but looking at the economy, that is not the way it’s going. I’m very happy that we’re bringing people in; it’s been good.”
Brent Aasen, managing partner with the Equus Group, is also pleased with the business growth in Oakley. He said that space is filling up fast at that Fed Ex Center across from Raley’s on Main Street, which Equus owns, despite the recession.
Construction has already begun on three new businesses in the center: Lazar’s Speciality Coffee, QM Nails and a 24-hour Wells Fargo ATM. All three are scheduled to open sometime in late spring.
“If you look at the businesses in Oakley, we tend to see a lot of the smaller mom-and-pop type merchants and we see that as a good thing,” said Aasen. “People like to see those kinds of businesses here in town – it’s a small-town character-type thing.”
Mason agrees. “I think that a lot of the home-based business people who’ve been laid off are taking this opportunity to create their own jobs,” said Mason. “They’re looking for niches and they know how to go about making it happen. I think we are going to see more and more of that, and that’s just good for everyone.”