The entrepreneurial spirit continues to thrive in the foothills as the local economy appears to be slowly recovering from the national recession.
For some, keeping their entrepreneurial spirit alive is a matter of changing with the times.
Warren and Barbara Smith, of Copperopolis, are a good example of that. They had a successful business as building contractors until the recession hit a few years ago.
“That’s when we decided we had to reinvent ourselves,” Barbara Smith said.
They chose to open what she calls a simple, grab-and-go eatery at 11 N. Washington St., Sonora. The business name is It’s Yo Good Yogurt. In addition to frozen yogurt, they offer a self-serve salad bar and self-serve sandwich bar.
Food can be purchased to eat in the 26-seat restaurant, or it can be purchased to go.
“We’ve been open for five weeks, and we have had a fantastic reception,” she said. “This community is so supportive and so grateful that we stay open so much.”
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 7 p.m. on Sundays. Hours may be extended during the tourist season, she said.
Also evidence of optimism is a sign at 136 S. Washington St., saying, “Coming Soon, SunB.E.A.M.S baby and kid’s boutique, clothing, shoes and accessories.”
“We’ve had a lot of positive changes in the downtown area,” said Kim Campbell, community development specialist with the City of Sonora.
She said several businesses have newly opened in the city, expanded or moved to a more central location.
Among them are Board Sport and Mountain Mike’s Pizza, which opened at new locations, both in the Timberhills shopping center on Mono Way.
Wright’s Tire, which used to be on Restano Way moved to 694 S. Washington Street, Sapphire Salon moved to the 600 block of South Washington Street, the former Hammond Shoes at 4 S. Washington Street has new owners and a new name, Downtown Shoes; and another new business is Funky Junk at 8 S. Washington St.
In Twain Harte, Hetty and Jonathan Booth just bought Caffe Blossom, a coffee house, inside The Nest Nursery at 23009 Fuller Road.
Hetty was a Realtor until she and Jonathan started their family. Then she spent several years as a stay-at-home mom. They have three children, Rylie, 8, Avery, 6, and Silas, 1-1/2.
Jonathan works year-round at Dodge Ridge near Pinecrest, but also helps Hetty with the business when he can.
This is their first business venture and one they are really excited about. They had considered trying to open a coffee house from scratch until they found out Caffe Blossom was available for sale.
The coffeehouse is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week.
Jo-Ann Fabrics and PetSmart have announced plans to open in the former Mervyn’s building in the Crossroads shopping center on Sanguinetti Road, and a third business is expected to announce soon that it will open there.
“It’s very exciting to me to see the entrepreneurial spirit continue to grow in this community,” said George Segarini, president and chief executive officer of the Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce.”
“It’s sad to see some businesses close,” he said, “but simply amazing and exciting to me that somebody else always comes along with an idea they think will work and the fortitude and willingness to invest the time and money to make it work.”