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Small business owners reporting brighter 2011 than expected

Small business owners reporting brighter 2011 than expected

Two Guys on Broadway and Red Brick Café owners Steve Backus and Ed Samo prepare for a very busy St. Patrick's Day dinner and bar crowd. The downtown Turlock restaurant and catering owners ar...

POSTED March 18, 2011 8:11 p.m.

In an economy where double-digit unemployment rates have become the norm and there are widespread housing foreclosures, many California businesses have had to shutter their doors until the climate improves. There are, however, those businesses that are not only weathering the storm but also seeing a brighter year ahead.

On Broadway with Two Guys and Red Brick Café owners Steve Backus and Ed Samo have already seen an increase in business in 2011 compared to 2010.

“Night and day,” is how Backus described the first three months of business this year compared to last year.

Backus attributes the increase in business to people feeling more secure about spending.

“People who are secure with their job and in good shape with their homes are coming out to spend,” he said. “Last year they stayed home.”

This has been a nice surprise for the local businessmen, who were not expecting a good 2011.

“We were expecting the worst, but guardedly optimistic things would change,” Backus said.

This cautiously optimistic outlook is spreading throughout the state with small business owners, according to a recent survey conducted by Union Bank.

The survey—with nearly 3,000 participants statewide—found that a full 60 percent of small business owners believe 2011 will be a better year in terms of profitability, a 9 percent increase from last year and a 26 percent increase from 2009. This is the most optimistic owners have been since 2007, when 67 percent of owners statewide anticipated improved profitability. 

“After years of belt-tightening, careful spending and trying to hold the line on staffing levels, small business owners are growing weary of just ‘hanging on,’ and they’re ready to return to profitability,” said Executive Vice President Todd Hollander, head of Union Bank’s Business Banking group.  “The profitability point is the most positive development from our survey, and it proves again why small businesses are truly the backbone of the U.S. economy – and the specific insight and feedback we’ve gained from this comprehensive survey has national implications as California small business owners are a catalyst for the nation’s economic recovery.”    

Campus Vista Market, located on Crowell Road in Turlock, is one of those small businesses investing in the future. The small grocery store recently added a 1950s themed ice cream shop and deli with a dining area and is in the process of installing a juice bar. 

“We were looking at ways to improve what we had and bring more people in the door,” said Campus Vista Market Marketing Director Garrison VonDetrick-Tucker.

When business dropped off significantly in 2010, the market decided to put out a survey to their customers asking for suggestions on how they could improve.

“We have seen an increase in overall business and large amount of excitement from existing customers,” VonDetrick-Tucker said.

The success of Two Guys and Campus Vista could be the start of a local economic turnaround, however, the year is still young and many factors are still up in the air. Fuel prices are just one.

When asked about the outlook for fall, Backus feels that if the price of fuel continues to rise then people will find less disposable income in their wallets.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

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