WALNUT CREEK -- Cities across the Bay Area are urging holiday shoppers to spend their money at mom-and-pop stores, especially on Small Business Saturday. They say shopping small can result in big impact for local communities.
Flashlight Books on North Main Street in downtown Walnut Creek opened in 2019. The young bookstore survived the pandemic but now faces a slowing economy due to inflation.
"We're down about 10 percent from last year, which is pretty significant especially for a new store," said Shoshana Smith, one of the three women who own Flashlight Books. To make matters worse, a Barnes and Noble bookstore recently opened a few blocks away.
"We definitely think that's a part of why our business dropped. Our last month, month and a half, were the worst we ever had, even when we first opened," Smith said.
She said this holiday season could be make or break.
"Honestly from, like, a morale point of view, it's a big deal to have a busy Small Business Saturday ... really gives us energy for the rest of the holidays," Smith said.
It's too late for a jewelry and gift shop a few doors down from Flashlight Books. Ming Quong is closing the physical store in January and shifting operations online.
"Our last shopping day probably will be January 21," said Jim Wyman, owner of Ming Quong.
Business owners say it's important to shop local because every dollar spent goes back into the community.
"Small independent stores really add to the flavor of the community. That's why we probably have customers who have been with us for those same 40 years we've been in business. It adds diversity and certainly wine is all about diversity," said Frank Rothstein, a store manager at Prima Vini Wine Merchants in Walnut Creek.
Rothstein said they handpick pretty much all the products they sell, something the big box stores cannot do.
And many small businesses like Flashlight Books also donate to local charities and schools.
"We have events, people can hang out here. It's really important," Smith said.
for more features.