Monday, July 30, 2012

Our Downtown, don't let it fade away.

Shops have disappeared before our eyes!
Last month when I went in to talk with the owner of Cheshire Bookshop to say goodbye, I cried.
I didn't cry just because I am a business owner, yes the pain of watching a fellow business owner struggle and have to make the difficult choice to close their doors is hard--but I cried because I am sad for what we will soon be missing.

Personally I love walking around downtown and going into stores: I love window shopping, and I love actually shopping. I enjoy talking with shop owners and staff about life, love and their products.  I want to know what they like and recommend.  In the shops I frequent, they know my taste, my colors, and I love to hear "I thought of you when I saw this." I like that the people helping me ask me how I am doing, how my family is, and they actually care.  If you drive over the hill maybe a checker at some big store will ask how you are doing, but are they really asking? Or are they on autopilot?
Sure, sometimes we leave town and shop with my in-laws at huge malls and shopping centers in their community.  Sometimes I shop online; but more often than not I make an online shopping cart and leave it. Online window shopping is fun and I can still spend my money in local shops.  Shops where I can see the quality and hear real feedback without sorting through reviews online.  We have everything here! What do you really need that you can't get locally?

Cheshire was a part of our downtown community for as long as I can remember, and now they are gone.  Understuff, also part of our downtown since I was a kid, is shutting their doors.  In the past four years alone we have seen many other great shops go.

So I want to shout out to all of the local Fort Bragg and Mendocino folk.  If you like a store, and you like going into a business and being able to touch and see what you are buying,  if you like having friendly customer service and shopping where the staff  knows you and cares about you, shop there, spend a little money when you can.  It doesn't take a lot.  I love our community, our downtown, and we have to start paying attention to keep it thriving.

When you come into Pippi's and I say thank you,  I genuinely mean thank you.  Thank you for helping me feed my family, thank you for helping me pay my mortgage, and thank you for helping me keep running a business that I love.  I would venture to guess that most of the small businesses in our community feel the same way and are grateful for your business. 

It doesn't take much to support your local businesses: check out the 350 Project for more information on how you can support our local businesses and where your money goes when you shop locally.  Keep our downtown alive.

One more thing.
There are twelve empty store fronts on Franklin Street.  This is crazy--let's not let any more businesses go and let's bring more businesses downtown.  So, I implore you, if you have a business idea, a dream of working hard to do something you love, to be your own boss and enrich your community...go for it.  Start your own business (or buy an existing established business, Racines and Understuff are both for sale!).
I will be writing a separate post on this later but, really, do it.  Opening Pippi's was the biggest, scariest decision I ever made--but it was also one of the best ones.


  1. what?!?!?! understuff's is CLOSING!?! holy dude. that is not good. hang in there katie. your post is great and i'll be sharing it.

    1. We are doing well at Pippi's, hanging in just fine and sock season is just beginning. But, I hate to see businesses close. I want new shops to open on Franklin street. There are so many good storefronts available, and more shops would be so good for our downtown and the businesses already here.

  2. last yr my kids and I took a long awaited trip west from wisconsin on the amtrak to california...and you know what?...our best and most fun discovery was Fort Bragg's stores like Pippi's. We are not shoppers and spent over 100 in socks b/c we had sooo much fun finding the coolest unique socks in the universe which we'd never seen anywhere else. Not only that, I reveled in the artwork and talk with the owner, so warm so happy....looking back, there were many magical moments on our trip...the redwoods, san francisco, but the sweetest discovery was fort bragg...we'd gone there for the seaglass beach but found a row of stores that was the best shopping on our entire two week trip up and down the be proud and keep on....when we return we will visit your creative, cool shops of which pippi's is the best!

    is there a way to order your socks online, we've wanted to do this for presents

    1. Kyane,I remember talking to you, and you shared with me your lovely music (thank you).
      I love that you loved Fort Bragg so much, I love this town too. It is full of good people and is unique in so many ways including the many creative cool shops. Thank you for your kind words. And yes, you can call our shop to order we would be happy to help you over the phone.

  3. The sight of our empty store fronts makes me so sad. I set a goal to buy all of my Christmas presents locally last year and not only did I accomplish it, but spent the same amount of money and got more satisfaction out of it. I will say though that there are certain things I just can't get here; used to spend a fortune at Toto Zaida but she can't seem to find clothes in my size that are hip or geared towards a 30 year old anymore. I have no choice but to buy clothes online or out of town. It's also hard to come by SF Giants gear...Reynolds, this wouold be perfect for you, and it's also hard to spend $4 on a box of markers for our non-profit preschool when I could get them for $2 over the hill or's just not feasable, we'd end up closing our doors. However for the most part there isn't anything you can't find here, or at least when all of our stores were occupied, and having the people know you, know what you like, and actually care, is priceless!

    1. That is a great goal, to do all your holiday shopping locally, and last year I did hear that from many locals and it makes a difference. Thank you.

    2. I adore your shop and when I get to Ft. Bragg I go to your store to stock on my socks for my Laughter Yoga business. I purchased the rubber chicken purse in June and take it with me whenerver I teach Laughter Yoga. Took it for it's first outing to the 2012 Northern Hemisphere MENSA Conference in July in Reno,NV. Great prop/tool. Now I want to order socks from your store-I am so frustrated with the Lil Mismatched online site, I only want to do business with you direct-is this possible? I sure hope SO!! Please respond on my Thank you, Teena