Moving Forward: Smallocal: A Small Business Collaborative Start-UpBased in Morro Bay

Written by Judy Salamacha

September 10, 2022

Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Program Co-Chair Brad Evans, far right, hosted and officiated the official opening for Foghorn Brewhouse with a ribbon cutting and social mixer for MB Chamber members.  Photo by Jody Hollier

Morro Bay’s Brad Evans is the developer and lead collaborator of Smallocal: A Small Business Collaborative. For more than 15 years the concept for Smallocal ruminated and formulated in Evans’ dreams and daily activities. And, since moving to Morro Bay and serving on the board of directors for the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce, his ideas have slowly, but deliberately, energized into a plan of action.

Currently, Evans is on a mission to find co-collaborators throughout the Estero Bay area to help him jump-start his emerging, interactive member-developed collective. It will encourage customer support to augment “buy-local” promotions for community small businesses. It just happens to be based in Morro Bay — at least for now.

By trade, Evans is a commercial real estate broker, by choice, a career-experienced caregiver for his aging parents, and by avocation, an advocate for small businesses. He co-chairs the Morro Bay Chamber’s Ambassador Program, which stays in touch, takes the pulse and echoes the needs of the city’s business community, most of which are small businesses.

“Franchise businesses and corporate groups are winning market share,” Evans said. “Through the years I’ve witnessed an increasing competitive disadvantage for our small businesses and wondered how to solve the problem.” 

He decided to create a method to invigorate trust for local small businesses that would attract new customers and maintain loyal customers. He envisions an interactive collaborative of small businesses reaching potential customers by displaying a recognizable brand that would signal the members’ dedication to serve their consumers. The brand, currently designed as a megaphone, would be prominently displayed in the member business’ storefront to shout out the business’ popularity among locals.

The goal is to position brand loyalty for the Smallocal “mom & pop ” coffee business as direct competition for a Starbucks. The dream for Evans is the Smallocal brand will someday signal superior customer service, that feel-good customer service once promoted in the 80s-90s television sitcom Cheers “where everyone knows your name.”

“I’ve collected a paycheck from 46 different small businesses, including my own,” Evans said. His career changes were often life’s circumstances guiding him to a next career path. “I’m an entrepreneur at heart and always restless to learn by doing.” 

His diverse experience comes from having worked hands-on in the trenches of several industries. For example, for ten years he worked in ophthalmology healthcare. It has guided his pro-active care-giving support for his father, Dick Evans, who is legally blind and yet worked an entire teaching career before retirement and then became an active docent for the Morro Bay Natural History Museum. Evans’ training and preparedness in health care also made it possible for him to recognize early enough to alert his mother’s doctor, that a fall Charlene Evans experienced created a deep knee wound requiring more than superficial physical therapy.

When Brad decided to move closer to his parents he decided to activate his degree in radio/television/film production. He worked in radio advertising and became a familiar voice for area commercials, especially Big Block Realty, where he currently partners in commercial real estate.

He lived in Grover Beach where he developed his strong advocacy for small businesses working with members of various chambers of commerce. At one point he was the board chairman when the Grover Beach Chamber merged with Arroyo Grande Chamber. It was during this time Evans decided to launch an idea he had for a sandwich shop. He called it Stacked. It might not have been one of his better career decisions, although in hindsight a learning experience he wouldn’t trade.

Ultimately, his personal health, his parents’ continued vulnerable health issues and his father’s fall and need for three joint replacements procedures determined his decision to move in with his parents in Morro Bay. His availability and health care skills allowed his parents to stay in the home they loved.

When he joined the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce, Brad realized he wanted to reinvigorate his work with small businesses and volunteered to co-chair the Ambassador Program with fellow media sales friend, Ray Riordan. Ultimately visiting and listening to the issues of local small businesses, he confirmed it was time to revive his concept and development of Smallocal.

In the following excerpt from his recently posted first blog for Smallocal. Evan’s transparency is refreshing as he admits creating such a concept has definitely been a learning curve while matriculating in the school of hard knocks: 

“In 2006 my wife and I opened a sandwich shop in Grover Beach, California. The business was open for six years. The lessons learned from this experience are priceless. There is a saying, ‘There are no failures, only life lessons.’ I disagree. There are failures. It is what you learn from the failure that creates the lesson. Admitting failures on your part is not easy. Attaching blame to other factors may give a sense of relief, but is an avoidance of truth. The truth is, I failed miserably running that business. As a result, we closed the business, got divorced, and went our separate ways.” 

Now after years of work experience and advocacy for small businesses, he believes he has some answers to solve this particular puzzle. “I am currently working on my next blog. His website and first blog can be found at https://imsmallocal.com.

He added, “There are steps and stages to starting any business and they are usually similar regardless of the business type. However, Smallocal is different in many respects. I am building the foundation for a small business owners’ collaborative that is intended to be built and defined in stages by the small business owners who have decided to participate. We, the collaborative, will co-op the vision of creating a community of like-minded business owners who can provide each other with their individual expertise, a variety of skill sets, and promotional support.

“I believe such a collaborative will raise the efficiency of any business and increase profitability from the diverse, interactive resources provided among the participating members. Consumers will have peace-of-mind knowing that each member business has been chosen by other members to join the collaborative because it represents a set of standards that align with the Smallocal’s mission.”  

Evans is interested in discussing Smallocal with other business owners throughout the Estero Bay area. He wants to find others that believe it can work and want to help him build it. More details and contact information can be found on his website or meet-up at any number of Morro Bay Chamber events and Brad Evans will be there. 

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