BERKELEY, Calif. - The holiday shopping season has officially begun. Black Friday is followed by Small Business Saturday. It's the 14th year of the event, a day when customers are encouraged to spend their money at local small businesses.
College Avenue in Berkeley is lined with small businesses, each with its own story.
"It’s almost a one-stop shop, you can get gifts and books," said Jessica Green, co-owner of Mrs. Dalloway's Books. "There’s a book for everybody of all ages here.
Jessica and her husband Eric Green know that people could turn to Amazon instead. But their bookstore has been busy with holiday shoppers looking for more of a personal gift.
"We want it to be an experience. Not just a quick way to get something. And we have really experienced booksellers here that can give advice and guidance," said Green.
Mrs. Dalloway's offers free gift-wrapping and even features local authors and artists in the store.
It's that effort to uplift other small business owners that inspires Randy Wells, who just opened his unique pop-up shop down the street.
"Small business is really the backbone of any local economy. And the more small businesses we have, the more that those dollars recycle in the community. We’re able to hire more people, we’re able to source our needs through local vendors, the city is even able to take those revenues and taxes to fund programs like education, public services, public health," said Wells, owner of Rockridge.
Rockridge, named after the neighborhood he grew up in, is a clothing brand. But the pop-up shop is more than a retail space. It's a place for creatives and entrepreneurs to gather, perform and learn.
Wells hosts workshops with the business consultant group ICA Fund. The next one is on Dec. 1.
"They can provide you with access to capital, and with the mentorship and the resources that you need to be successful so that we can have more small businesses in the East Bay," said Wells.
It's important not only to shop small, but to dine small.
Kara Hammond, owner of cafe Baker & Commons, said people have been craving community interaction after the pandemic. While takeout or delivery is just a tap away, people are still choosing to support small restaurants like hers.
"A lot of the shops here, the owners are working in the shops, so you come in, and you’re purchasing from someone, and you’re supporting their family and their livelihood. You know it’s a cycle, you’re giving to them, and they’re giving back to the community, and it moves everyone up and forward," said Hammond.
The café is built to act as a community space, without electrical outlets, so people can interact.
"We’re not creating a space where people are plugged in all the time on their computer, we’re creating a vibrant environment where people can talk to each other, and they can have those healthy arguments about what’s happening in the world and things like that," said Hammond.