Marc Willson, retail consultant

Mendo Coast Biz: May 2019

This article was originally published in the Mendocino Beacon
and Fort Bragg Advocate-News

Focusing on the successes and challenges of Mendocino Coast businesses

It’s been a busy few weeks since my last column as the gorgeous bloom of wildflowers did its best to cheer up our overcast coast skies. I’ve had the opportunity to work on a search engine optimization (SEO) project with a Silicon Valley automation company, and it’s been both thrilling and scary to look at the “digital worker” bots that are coming our way. We gotta learn about technology, people, so we don’t get left behind!

Startup Mendocino

On May 13, the West Business Development Center announced its newest program, Startup Mendocino, an intense “business boot camp” that will take place between June 24 and July 22. Up for grabs are several prizes including a $10,000 grand prize, $5,000 second prize, and $2,500 third prize.

The application period runs May 13 through June 10, and 12 businesses will be selected to attend the boot camp. After undergoing rigorous training in how to pitch their business ideas as well as in marketing, finance, and vision, businesses will undergo two selection rounds. The first round will take place in front of a live panel of judges, with five going on to the next round. The second round will be held on August 25 and will be open to the public; it promises to be an exciting event.

Any business owner in Mendocino County – actually anyone who simply has a business idea – is eligible to apply. For more information, visit Startup Mendocino. Or take the plunge and fill out an application.

Are You Ready for Tourist Season?

If you’re operating a tourist-facing business, you’ll probably be interested in what retail consultant Marc Willson has to say on May 17 from 1-3 p.m. at Fort Bragg Town Hall. Marc will discuss how to capture customers and retain their loyalty in the “digital age” in this one-time event sponsored by the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce, Visit Mendocino, West Business Development Center, and the City of Fort Bragg.

“Small business owners need to start thinking outside the box and learning to implement new business strategies” according to Marc. That means staying relevant amid changing customer expectations and using technology to your advantage.

To learn more about this event and register, please visit

Highlight on Local Business

The business owner I was planning to interview for this column backed out due to concerns that they might be targeted for a burglary. I said that I didn’t think criminals read newspapers, but who knows? Maybe there are some intellectual burglars out there, reading this column right now.

A new business has just opened on the coast: Larsen Livery & Transfer Co., providing secure, climate-controlled storage for your car, RV, van, bus, motorcycle, or boat. You can find it on Facebook at

On a different note, I’m sad to report that Icons in Mendocino has closed. It was the first local business I profiled in this column and, unfortunately, it wasn’t able to recover from the business losses it sustained recently. It will be missed!

Local Government/Business Organizations

I recently spoke with Scott Perkins, Special Projects Manager, Public Works Department, for the City of Fort Bragg regarding local business conditions. He said that one metric that’s important for the economy is the transient occupancy tax (TOT) and that, happily, “figures are way up.”

Not all businesses, however, are enjoying such a rosy picture, and Scott agreed that “it really depends on the industry or market you’re in.” Local businesses that have to compete with Amazon, for instance, are experiencing poor conditions overall or dealing with seasonality: doing well in summer, but not in winter. As a result, businesses have to figure out how to get through the winter and how to bring customers into their stores.

You can learn more about doing business in the city of Fort Bragg by visiting To provide helpful input, you can also email Scott at

Upcoming Business Workshops

Following are opportunities to further your professional development on the Coast.

  • May 17 1 p.m.Get Ready for the 2019 Tourist Season with Marc Willson at the Fort Bragg Town Hall (Fort Bragg)
  • May 22 6 p.m.Customer Service: The Heart of Your Brand with Julia Siderakis at the West Business Development Center (Fort Bragg)
  • June 12 5:30 p.m.Shopify: Selling Online with Marinela Miclea at the West Business Development Center (Fort Bragg)
  • June 13 5:30 p.m.Boosting Your Business with Events with Cindy Lemas at Coast Women in Business (Caspar)

Do you have news about your business? Suggestions for future articles? Please share – we can all learn from each other.

Marinela Miclea runs Mendo Digital, a local resource for SEO, eCommerce, social media, and website optimization. She also serves as communications director for Coast Women in Business, and advisor for the West Business Development Center. Comments are welcome at


We can help you resolve these concerns. Just contact us and let us know which of these issues applies to your business, and we’ll get started.