Maintaining a business in Los Gatos is a difficult endeavor on its own, but add in an atmospheric river, and the task becomes a nightmare. Due to town-wide power outages, businesses including Dustin David Salon and the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company took a hard hit in profits.
With sky-high rent, Los Gatos business owners already struggle to keep their stores open. In the opinion of Catherine Somers, Executive Director of the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce, a storm is the last thing they needed. “January is typically a slow month downtown anyways,” she explained, “This really hurt small businesses.”
Dustin David, the owner of his eponymously named salon on University Avenue, was out of town when the storm first hit in the early hours of Tuesday, Jan. 10. He came home to a fallen tree that fortunately did not damage his business, but did wipe out power to his salon and the beloved downtown bakery Icing on the Cake. The power was out until the following Sunday, Jan. 15, because PG&E had to put in a new pole and transformer. Dustin highlighted the struggles of having no power; “I missed another week of work, and there is no assistance for that type of thing either. Because the tree was on the next door property [there is nothing that can be done]…you just have to deal with it.”
Teri Hope, the owner of the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company, expressed her astonishment following the events of the storm. The location of her business makes power a challenge for her compared to some of the newer parts of the town. To hopefully counter the outage and prevent similar situations in the future, Teri suggests “looking at some other backup power systems.”
The Los Gatos business community is very tight-knit, and they express love and support for one another any chance they can get. David emphasized his love for everyone he has met, sharing, “I’ve come to know and care about all of these people that have businesses, and I don’t want to see them go. And so I always tell people, if you really like something, you know, make a point of going there and supporting that business.” He noted that he has worked really hard to have a business in Los Gatos, “so I give all of my business to Los Gatos because I live here and my business is here.” David said of Donna, the woman who owns the Pastaria, “I’m a huge supporter of them because they are family run, [and] the food’s delicious. And then she also is a huge supporter of the town.” David went on to say, “She’s supported me through the pandemic and through these storms, and she makes sure that she’s supporting other businesses in town.”
Hope also expressed her gratitude for the Los Gatos community, reflecting, “I think that our little independently owned, family owned and operated businesses are such a treasure and so unique in today’s environment, that I know how much our customers are appreciative of us, and we’d hate to lose that.” She went on to note her love for her loyal customers, saying that they, “encourage us all. It kind of keeps us fighting for the you know through the next challenges that we face.”
Somers estimated that some businesses, such as Teleferic Barcelona in Old Town, lost upwards of 20,000 dollars in missed revenue and spoiled food. Restaurants especially were at a disadvantage as health codes require most food to be thrown out if left unrefrigerated for multiple hours.
To combat economic losses, Somers underlined the importance of shopping locally in the coming weeks, explaining that roughly “82 cents on every dollar that is spent locally …funnels back into our local economy. Whereas when you buy things online…you get 22 cents on the dollar.” She also urged the community to practice kindness: “Something so simple as going in and just saying to the person that’s working at the counter, ‘hey, you know, we feel for you.’”