First in a series: Boosting Benicia Business

Chamber of Commerce

by Mary Hand and Alexa Manning

There’s no question that many Benicia businesses are going through lean times. Those who survived the pandemic are now trying to survive inflation and high interest rates. Combine that with the propensity of many shoppers to spend their money online, these are tough times indeed. There are a few business advocacy organizations that have entered the fray on behalf of its members. In this issue we will focus on the Benicia Chamber of Commerce.

The first local chamber was founded in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1773. This was followed by one in New Haven, Connecticut, and then another in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1800. The trend rapidly spread across the country. By 1870 there were forty local chambers of commerce in the United States. Today, there are over 5,000 chambers of commerce.

The Benicia Chamber of Commerce with Executive Director Randy Young, assisted by Michelle O’Leary, is committed to helping businesses succeed. They advocate for business interests and community well-being. The Chamber acts as a marketing team for each of its members by increasing their visibility within the local community. It promotes member businesses through newsletters, the chamber website, and social media platforms, enhancing each business’ brand recognition and attracting potential customers.

The Chamber advocates on behalf of its members by promoting the interests of the business community. This includes educating members on relevant issues, providing access to gateways for self advocacy, and advocating to local government. They help by negotiating fees, assisting in permitting, and navigating city laws and restrictions. They are here to help maneuver the difficulties of opening and maintaining a business.

During our interview with Randy, our conversation turned into a brainstorming session for how to further support downtown businesses. We came up with many ideas, including leveraging the Chamber, Benicia Main Street, Benicia Magazine, the City of Benicia, and other business advocacy organizations to work together toward this shared goal. One issue felt by many of the business advocacy organizations is the reluctance of residents in the Southampton area to frequent downtown businesses. Be on the lookout for a survey aimed at addressing this issue (to be sent to the combined contact lists of the above mentioned organizations). The results of the survey will help shape the next iteration of downtown to better serve Benicia residents, thereby benefiting the businesses as well. Further ideas included working with downtown businesses to capitalize on local events that draw Benicia residents and tourists from out of town.

Shop First Street First!

Clothes

Shopping for clothes can be emotionally taxing. Luckily, we have some great stores right here in Benicia! You can find great women’s looks downtown at Pink Arrows Boutique, Sparkly Ragz, and Collektive. You could also venture into the Arsenal to Femmage to discover new pieces. Pocket Monkey Vintage provides a wonderful selection of men’s clothing. You can also find budget friendly items at Elisa’s Cottage, Adobe Second Chance Thrift Store, and Thriftie D’s.

Gifts

One thing about Benicia is that you can always find the perfect gift. Ranging from second hand and inexpensive to something fine, here is a list of places to go shopping for the next time you need to purchase a gift for someone:

  • The Filling Station
  • Bookshop Benicia (also: cards!)
  • The Little Art Shop
  • Succulents and more
  • Fabulous Finds
  • Angel Heart 4 You
  • Roberto’s Fine Jewelry
  • Cartel Crystals
  • Zeppelin Comics
  • Two Days Jewelry
  • Golden Horseshoe Antiques

Beauty & Personal Care

If you’re in need of some self-care, stop by one of the many massage spas or chiropractors downtown. Permanent Makeup by Lanita Nelson, Skin Medica MD, and Aura Define are also spots where you can find a little refresh. Or, if exercise is more your style, try out a yoga class at Elevate Co. 

Grocery

Snacks, drinks, olive oil, Benicia has you covered. Between Sips and Yummi Mart, you’ll never run out of something good to eat. Sepay Groves Olive Oil carries more than just cooking oil! Check out their soup mixes for a quick and easy meal.