Garberville business owners appeared before the Humboldt County board of directors on Tuesday to “sound the alarm” over a precipitous drop in sales, a decline they blamed on existential struggles in the area’s famed cannabis industry.
“Personally, I’ve seen sales drop 40 percent year over year,” said Jolan Banyaz, owner of Garberville-based clothing store Sweet Grass Boutique. “Last month, in September, I saw sales drop 60 percent. I cannot react to these losses.”
Banyaz recently had to sack a seven-year-old employee who hasn’t been able to find another job in the field since.
“Generally speaking, not every single company is really hiring because no one is succeeding,” she said. Banyaz said he’s heard from other local business owners who are hanging by a thread and paying the bills with their savings.
She was followed on the podium by Charlotte Silverstein, who has owned and operated the Garden of Beadin bead shop in Garberville for 38 years. Silverstein said mail-order businesses keep his business afloat, but his earnings are still down 20 percent this year and the city as a whole is suffering.
“I recently moved and now I’m on the street and people say, ‘How do you like your new place?’ ‘Well,’ she said, ‘I like the place, but then I see what’s going on in Garberville, which is a lot of tramps and a lot of poor people. I feel like that from the years of legalization, before the regulators made the price of the permits so expensive, it bankrupted a lot of people. Now they either all leave or they’re broke.”
District Two supervisor Michelle Bushnell was reached by phone on Wednesday and said she agreed with the women who spoke and sympathized as a business owner in Garberville.
“I own the biggest clothing store out there,” she said, referring to The Bootleg and my business, which has been in decline for eight months. He said sales fell about 45 percent, the worst drop in the company’s 41-year history.
Bushnell bought the company in 2011, and she said the first time she experienced a big drop in sales was in 2016 and 2017, the period between the passage of Proposition 64, which legalized recreational cannabis. This caused great concern among local producers, which affected the county’s economy.
“But then it rebounded,” Bushnell said. ,[However]It’s been awful the last eight months. I usually employ seven full-time employees. Right now I had to cut it in two… plus [one who works] Four hours on a Sunday. ,
Both Banyas and Silverstein took note of Pacific Gas & Electric’s recent revelation that the company, with the transmission lines and substations required for approximately $900 million in upgrades, has reached the limits of its ability to convert electricity to electricity transfer South Humboldt.
,[T]The hat will seriously hamper any development in our community along with the issues we have with the outdated infrastructure in the water districts,” Bunyaz said.
Silverstein echoed these concerns. “You know, you’re all happy about what’s happening up north in Arcata,” she said. “They have Cal Poly, but here in South Humboldt, we’re where people come first and it’s going to look like a ghost town. How will you support this and help us fix it?”
Bushnell said she spoke about these issues with Scott Adair, the county’s director of economic development, as well as with county administrator Alicia Hayes.
“We need to boost tourism,” she said. “Cannabis, it’s in the toilet. It’s terrible. Panic across the board. But we must contain the appeal. We absolutely have to sell [SoHum] As a gateway to Humboldt County. ,
Standing on the podium on Tuesday, Banyaz told the board that she grew up in the community and would like to be. But right now, she doesn’t know if she’ll even be in business by early next year, and she worries other storefronts will be empty, leaving the Humboldt County entrance “barren.”
“I want to see it come to fruition,” she said. “I want our community members to be able to support our businesses. I see no economic opportunity now that the cannabis industry is collapsing.”
Bushnell said she plans to bring Adair down to speak to local business owners, at least so they know the county is paying attention.
Below is video of Tuesday’s meeting, queued at the time Banyaz speaks. Then there’s Silverstein.