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Small Pleasanton shop thrives despite pandemic, moves into historic downtown space

Small Pleasanton shop thrives despite pandemic, moves into historic downtown space
Small Pleasanton shop thrives despite pandemic, moves into historic downtown space 02:39

PLEASANTON – Many small businesses across the Bay Area struggled during COVID, some forced to close permanently. But one in Pleasanton was able to transform by taking something old and making it new.

"Have you guys been in before?" asks Wendy Schulte as a group of women come into her store, Good Common Sense Naturals.

Walking into her shop in downtown Pleasanton is like entering an enchanted garden, where flowers cascade from the ceilings and a sweet aroma hangs the air.

"An essential oil blend that we put in literally everything," she said.  

Schulte started her organic skin care business on Etsy in 2015, and at the time was focusing mostly on bath products - like bombs and scrubs she made from scratch in her kitchen.

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Inside the Good Common Sense Naturals in Downtown Pleasanton. CBS

She had moved into a brick and mortar location on Main Street in Pleasanton, but less than a year later, the pandemic threatened to put her out of business.

"My immediate thing was like, OK. Let's go buy alcohol and let's just go figure this out," Schulte told KPIX 5.

She pivoted and started ramping up production of all natural hand sanitizer and soaps packed with essential oils, and customers responded.

"The community always took care of us, so I felt like I definitely needed to go forward and just pay it forward," she said.

That's when she knew she had to expand and found the perfect place to do it. A vacant space just two doors down.

"That building dates from like 1890," said Ken MacLennon, the curator of Pleasanton's Museum on Main.

The space on 620 Main Street was originally Kolb's General Store, and the 1950s it became home to Dean's Cafe.

"I think it was an institution. That kind of local eatery. Teams would go there for breakfast after games or practice. A lot of the racetrack people would hang out there," said MacLennon.

That's why it was such a leap for Schulte not just to expand her business during the pandemic, but also to take over such a beloved space.

"The first probably like week was funny when people would just open the door, they'd come in and say, 'I'd like two cups of coffee please,'" she said.

These days, the kitchen area isn't used for coffee, but instead hand-making and packaging all of the products sold at the store.

To Schulte, it means triumph in the face of serious adversity. "This was actually a dream come true, like literally," she said.

For the community it means the continuation of a legacy of small businesses thriving in an historic old building.

"It does feel good to see there's still a space for that downtown," said MacLennon.

As for the Dean's Café sign?

 "We're going to keep it. Now I get to tell people, have you ever been to Dean's Café in downtown Pleasanton? Guess what, I own a store there!" she said.

Schulte said somehow the old neon helps to make it feel like home.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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