ROCK SPRINGS – Residents made their way to the downtown area and other small corners of the city to support Small Business Saturday on November 30.
Around the country, cities bonded together to put Nov. 30 on the map along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Rock Springs Mayor Carl Demshar recently proclaimed Saturday as the day to support these small shops. Demshar has said he is continually amazed at how many different shops and services residents can find in the downtown area as well as around Rock Springs.
Local Girl Scouts were set up outside the Train Depot and temporary home of the Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency. No, they were not selling tasty cookies but rather Christmas trees. Next to the young entrepreneurs was one of these small hometown businesses.
Twisted Coffee set up outside the depot serving some warmth to shoppers. Residents may have seen Twisted Coffee at several events, or maybe they are lucky enough to be on their regular route. Either way, keep an eye out for the motorized coffee stand at events.
Owner Samantha Weitzel said supporting small businesses helps support local families, as well as the community, because it keeps money in Rock Springs. Weitzel said, in turn, they are able to “give back to our community.”
As a person walks through the downtown, tattoo parlors, photo studios, restaurants and lawyer’s offices are just a few attractions. One business which is well known in the city is Touch of Class. This floral and gift shop has been serving the public for 25 years and recently received a Community Pride Award from the URA for the work they have done to improve the look of the business.
Besides providing custom orders for locals, owner Tina Angelovic said they also provide a friendly service and cater to all their clients, something she says does not happen in bigger chain stores.
“Service is key,” Angelovic said. “We go out of our way to try to find what the person is looking for.”
She also agreed with Weitzel about supporting small business and keeping money at home and circulating in the community. Angelovic explained the businesses in the downtown area are a community of their own, working together and looking out for each other. Although Touch of Class has been in the downtown area for a while, they have bounced around and have been in their current location for about a year and a half.
“I think we have finally found a home right here,” Angelovic said.
Walking down the street from Touch of Class, residents will pass everything from Broadway Bargains Thrift Shop to Trailhead Guns. At the end of Broadway sits another 10 year veteran of the small business game.
Daniel’s Jewelry has been a staple of the small business community since owner Jane Daniel branched out on her own. Daniel and her staff, Karrie Savala and Tina Egbert, are preparing for the Christmas Parade and taking advantage of events which bring people to the downtown area with the John Atencio Truck Show from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 7.
Daniel said a small business can provide a lower overhead and pass the savings on to the customer. She added she always liked a more intimate shopping destination and because of the small business atmosphere, they can provide it. Egbert added to Daniel’s comments, saying the small business atmosphere is not pushy and allows people to shop comfortably.
Consistency is always important in so many things and business is no different. Daniel said when customers come in the store, they will always see a familiar face. She said buying jewelry is a very personal thing and having a representative who knows a history of past purchases and is able to keep things like prices very confidencial is important.
Another thing Daniel pointed out was many of the big chains have a stock of the same pieces, while at a small shop you are getting one of a kind pieces. Talking about Black Friday, Daniel said many people see so much off, or percentages, but small businesses bring a higher quality and value to the merchandise and shopping experience.
“We have a passion for it and we share that passion,” Savala said.
Crossing the tracks opens up more stores and services to residents and visitors. A new dollar store, crafts, restaurants, clothing shops and music shops line South Main. A new shop sits a little further down by the Rose Petal.
Beasts and Barbarians is a collectible games and hobby shop. Homemade worlds sit in the shop and are the scenery for miniature war games fought every Thursday night. Gamers purchase miniature creatures and customize them before hitting the battlefield. There are three different games that store enthusiasts participate in: fantasy, science fiction and a historical World War II struggle.
The shop also hosts magic card games for customers and sells several board games the public may be seeking.
Owner Casey Bruder has been a small business owner with his shop being open for two and a half years. He grew up in Sweetwater County and brings a lot of family pride to the historic downtown area. Recently, Beasts and Barbarians was awarded a URA Facade Grant. He said while he has been upgrading his store front many neighboring owners have came over and talked to him about his upgrades. Bruder explained some owners have utilized and known about the grant, but there are still several who did not know what it was and that it was available to them.
Upgrading his shop is not only to attract residents to his shop but, Bruder explained, it is also a way to show pride in the community. He added, doing it is not only helping his business but also neighboring businesses by bringing people to the district.
“Supporting small business is really an investment in the community,” Bruder said.