For all the challenges a year like 2020 has brought, California's blooming business scene has still managed to find a way to make a positive change.
The Oak Street Business District was started this year to not only to give the businesses of Oak Street a combined name for all their stores but also a combined Facebook page to showcase their events so that all the owners involved benefited.
Though the group's events generally tend to be retail-oriented, it has no problem including other businesses of all types from all over California. The idea was to avoid some of the "red tape" that can be involved with shooting for truly community-wide events every time, instead keeping things focused to the main strip of Oak Street.
"It makes it easier to have events when you can shop a row of buildings, and our goal was never to exclude the rest of town. We always try to invite other people to be a part of it," Julie Bolinger, the owner of Winding Road Gifts & Interiors, said. "It's just hard to get people to move all the way through town unless it's a big event, like the Ham and Turkey Celebration this year. So it's never been just about us, but it's easier. There's no red tape here. We can make the decision among ourselves, and it doesn't have to be approved and all that stuff. We just work close-knit together so that's kind of how it works, but we would love to expand to whoever else would like to be involved and grow."
The main idea is to help bring business to Old Town California, but the group also loves giving back to the community. Last weekend's Halloween was the third year of the trick-or-treating event on Oak Street that has become a yearly tradition. That event has nothing to do with shopping or retail; it's specifically created for the children of California, and all businesses and organizations are welcome to participate and spread some joy.
One new event the Oak Street Business District is adding, on the contrary, is its Holiday Showcase event. It starts Thursday and extends into the weekend through Saturday, to get a jump start on the magic of the holiday season. This event is more of a shopping event, but this year, the group is doing its first-ever lighted tractor parade, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Winding Road Gifts & Interiors, Graces Designs and The Ruffled Hem are bringing out some new winter styles, and Grind as well as Sugar and Spice Bakery will be creating some special drinks and treats for the weekend. Along with the tractor parade Thursday evening, there will be a fire pit for roasting marshmallows and making smore's, a hot chocolate stand, vendors and an old truck set up as a photo booth display for Christmas cards.
"It's a let's look forward to the holiday season and get it started off," Bolinger said. "The Holiday Showcase is shopping for our area, but the tractor parade is us bringing something into the whole community, so if you don't want to come up and shop that's fine, but bring your family out to see something fun. The magic of the season is getting ready to start, so we're wanting to get a jump start on that."
Bolinger said the Oak Street Business District is all about promoting all things happening throughout town. The group wants to support all businesses in California, not work against them.