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Stores host block party to attract business

Old Town Newhall business owners look for creative ways to draw traffic

Posted: April 7, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 7, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Sale signage at Ma Maison during the Main Street Block Party in Newhall.

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Sometimes it just takes a village of business owners to kick off a round of economic activity.

And on one Saturday in March, a group of independent businesses, 11 of which are women-owned, joined together to promote their businesses in the Old Town New-hall area with a “Block Party on Main Street.”

“A lot of new businesses have moved in and they’ve been really excited about supporting each other – other brick and mortar, independently owned stores,” said a spokesperson for one of the stores.

The loosely formed group of business owners each chipped in to pay for a trolley to ferry shoppers around the downtown shopping area, giving residents a chance to easily visit all of the stores located in Santa Clarita’s original historic shopping district.

Each participating business also rewarded visitors with a stamp in a “shopping passport,” which automatically entered them in a raffle and granted shoppers 20 percent off at many of the stores.

Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, experts say.

Defined as having 500 employees or less, small businesses generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years, according to the Small Business Administration.

But, there’s also been strong growth in the area of microenterprises, businesses with fewer than 5 employers – including sole proprietors. Since 2000, the net job creation of these “micro” businesses in California is six times the total of net jobs created by the state’s larger businesses, reported the California Senate Office of Research in 2008.

And the boost in tax revenue generated by microenterprise activity is significant, according to the research office. For instance, federal taxes from sole proprietorships increased by 34 percent - from $106.6 billion to $142.4 billion between 2000 and 2005.

Between that same period, these small California businesses grew by 24 percent, from 2.8 million to nearly 3.5 million.

And the number of jobs added were equally impressive, with a growth rate of 23 percent between 2000 and 2005; representing a jump from nearly 3 million jobs to 3.7 million.

But for these small businesses to survive and thrive, they need to be creative in their approach to attracting customers.

Beyond the Fringe Salon, which opened in 2003, sponsored the block party event; and was joined by White Fig Designs, Faking It Flawless, J Serranio, One Savvy Girl, Outwest, Fresh, Ma Maison, Luscious Soul, Railroad Café, and Puchella Winery.

“Beyond the Fringe Salon and Puchella Winery have been around the longest,” the spokesperson said. “They were the most familiar with the community and the ones that were really excited about getting this off the ground.”

The business owners have formed their own community of sorts, she said.

“We wanted to get our clients from the salon acquainted with downtown Newhall,” said Jennifer Hasper, owner of Beyond the Fringe Salon. “And we really wanted to marry our two businesses.”

The Haspers are co-owners of Puchella Winery.

There was a smaller event held in November 2012, but as more stores have opened in the district since then, the local businesses wanted to stage another event, Hasper said.

“The city has put so much in to revitalize Old Town Newhall,” she said. “There’s so much going on. It’s a neighborhood; with every store owner supporting each other and building momentum.”

The plan is to hold a quarterly event, said Erin Hopkins, owner of White Fig Designs, a floral design studio.

White Fig Designs grew out of a private consulting business Hopkins ran out of her home for three years, but the business grew to the point that she needed a store front that people could visit, she said.

“Everyone kept encouraging me to come here. I signed my lease in January,” Hopkins said.

And the businesses are hoping more and more local residents visit the revitalized shopping district, discover the community of business owners that has formed, and support the small businesses – the brick and mortar stores.
“The businesses here chose to move here and, it’s proving to work out great,” Hasper said.

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