Small Business Saturday 2019: Advice from San Francisco Business Owners

Small Business Saturday is around the corner, and SmartBiz is here to help you succeed this holiday season! We love working with small business owners like you, so what better way to gain some unique perspectives and advice than by speaking to local entrepreneurs? Our team set out to explore the bustling North Beach neighborhood in San Francisco to learn what local small businesses have in store for the upcoming promotion.

Here are some of the inspiring entrepreneurs we spoke to!

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Frances Wolff, owner of the SF-based business Pillowtrip, got her start in fashion and grew a thriving business out of her passion for textiles. She loves the handmade touch a small business provides for local customers that you can’t find anywhere else.

Her advice for other small business owners, whether they’re running an online business or a brick-and-mortar store, is to build a strong support network and to keep at it through the natural ups and downs that come with the journey. Get to know Frances with our special Small Business Saturday video!

Mighty Pilates

Mighty Pilates was originally founded in San Francisco by Cricket Wardein, after she fell in love with the Pilates reformer method while living in Australia. Since bringing her new knowledge to the U.S. about eleven years ago and exchanging her corporate role for an entrepreneur’s dream, she’s successfully opened four California locations.

Cricket’s studio are heavily involved in their local communities, running co-promotions with other retailers in the neighborhood during days like Small Business Saturday. Learn more about her innovative ideas and insightful advice on preparing for busy days:


Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods

Lynnet Spiegel, owner of Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods, loves Small Business Saturday and participates every year because she believes it truly encourages customers nationwide to support their small businesses and make a difference in their local communities.

Jeffrey’s success is due in part to its major community presence—they’re always involved in special events, collaborations, and fun activities with their neighbors at both of their SF locations. See what Lynnet and team are planning for the upcoming Small Business Saturday 2019!

City Lights

City Lights was founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin and is the first all-paperback bookstore in the US.

The business actually originated as a publisher and still continues to publish books to this day. It’s known for its legacy of publishing Beat Generation writers. One of the highlights of its history was publishing Allan Ginsberg Howl and the subsequent 1956 First Amendment obscenity case.

General Manager Andy Bellows advises small business not to try to appeal to everyone and instead to focus on the products that fit your niche. “Find what’s unique about you and focus on doing it well.” For City Lights, this means specializing in world literature, translation, poetry, history, politics, as well as a curated fiction collection.

City Lights prides itself on its completely organic growth from the start and appreciates their loyal customers, even despite the rise of the digital age. Besides their brick and mortar location, they also have an online store where they primarily sell City Lights published books and merchandise. Andy is always pleasantly surprised to see that their customers will purchase books at full price and will wait longer for them to be delivered. Their advice? Offer something truly unique that you can’t get at major online retailers—outstanding customer service, a welcoming environment, and an interesting atmosphere.

In terms of local resources and support, City Lights is lucky that the independent book selling community and book publishers have great advocacy groups (American Bookselling Association, NCIBA) for the industry, who are always promoting and publishing.

When it comes to Small Business Saturday, City Lights finds that these promotions really raise awareness for local businesses. The bookstore prepares for extra busy days by adding staff and planning for increased national and local community support. Andy recommends that small businesses take advantage of financial resources as much as possible as they grow.

And more…

Searching for an idea-packed Resource Guide to fuel your Small Business Saturday efforts? Look no further: we’ve got you covered.

If you’ll be in the San Francisco area, check out our SF Small Business Saturday shopping guide for a list of our team’s local favorites. You won’t want to miss it!