“The Barlow is open!”
Kathrin Green, co-owner of floral design shop California Sister, is eager to spread this message to the public. Her shop, located at the Sebastopol marketplace, survived the February floods with its showroom unscathed, but foot traffic has since been reduced to barely a trickle.
And Green is not alone in her efforts to bring customers back to The Barlow and other West County businesses affected by the flooding.
“None of us can pay our rent if people don’t come to shop,” said watercolor artist Nan Still of Russian River Art Gallery in downtown Guerneville. The co-op gallery suffered some water damage but has opened their doors to the public after a rapid cleanup. “People can use us as a museum…to take a break from the cleanup,” Still said.
Initial estimates of the economic impact of the flooding indicate that 578 businesses in the Sebastopol and Guerneville area suffered a total of $35 million in damages. However, those figures are likely to change as the extent of the damages continues to be assessed.
To aid recovery efforts, local businesses are now banding together. “It is a community,” said Green of the merchants at The Barlow. “We’re all backing each other.”
Several stores and restaurants at The Barlow are hosting pop-up shops for neighbors that suffered significant damage and loss of merchandise. Fern Bar, for example, will host juice and smoothie bar The Nectary, while designer boutique Scout West County makes space for handbag designer Adelle Stoll.
Stoll opened her Barlow retail space just nine months before the flooding. Her entire inventory, including machines and handcrafted wool and leather goods, was destroyed. Like other small business owners, Stoll now faces the task of raising money to replace inventory while recreating her collection of handbags and accessories. As part of this effort, she will create a “capsule collection” inspired by Scout West County’s aesthetic. (We predict a perfect match between Stoll’s spectacular craftsmanship and Scout West County’s simple and serenely-colored style.)
In Guerneville, many retail spaces avoided significant water damage but some businesses, like Boon Eat + Drink, closed temporarily so that staff could help with the cleanup effort in the community. This sense of community is also reinforced by locals and visitors shopping in Sebastopol and Guerneville stores.
In addition to patronizing businesses impacted by the flooding (in stores and online), there are also fundraising efforts to support. Here are a few campaigns to consider. We’ll continue to add to this list.
Adelle Stoll: gofundme.com/adelle-stoll-flood-recovery
The Nectary: gofundme.com/help-reopen-the-nectary-sebastopol
The Farmer’s Wife: gofundme.com/help-farmers-wife
Victorian Farmstead Meat Company: gofundme.com/f/victorian-farmstead-meat-company
Zazu Kitchen + Farm: gofundme.com/zazu-kitchen-farm-needs-your-help
Barrio Cocina Fresca: gofundme.com/help-reopen-el-barrio
Village Bakery: gofundme.com/open-village-bakery-as-soon-as-possible
Sushi Kosho: gofundme.com/sushi-kosho