Skip to Content

National Small Business Week: Highlighting local shops as busy season in the desert comes to an end

Things are starting to slow down a bit here in the Coachella Valley, which is why 'National Small Business Week' couldn't have come at a more perfect time. The week is meant to highlight and uplift local business owners, while encouraging customers to shop small.

The Desert's festival season is officially over, with Coachella and Stagecoach wrapping up on Sunday. With the tourists heading back home, small business owners now rely on their regulars to get them through the slow season. Jennifer Riley, owner of Peach Whiskers Goods, says local stores have to prepare for the summer months in order to survive.

"Just saving a percentage of your sales, you know, during the rest of the year helps," said Riley. "That way you have enough to get through the summer.”

Riley says many small businesses have to make changes to adjust to the dry, summer months. Those changes could include things like store hours, inventory, and employee count.

"Any kind of events or things that are going on whether it's the BNP or whether it's festival season, it's always helping us out and always supporting us," said Riley. "And I look forward to it, truly. I love meeting and getting to know out-of-towners, and seeing how excited that they are about all the activities and everything around our valley."

Riley opened her store in the middle of the pandemic, after Covid protocols made it nearly impossible to continue her career as a massage therapist. She says opening a vintage thrift store has made her feel more connected to her community and neighbors than ever before.

"You get to meet people where they're at," said Riley. "Opening the store was just another way to connect with people, and connect with my community. I had a ton of vintage clothing items in my home and it was taking over my household. So I thought I would open up a shop, like why not?"

Riley's husband is also a small business owner. He runs Dale's Records and Skate Shop down the street.

"My store is totally locally owned," said Dale Myers. "I've been in the desert since '88. And I worked in another record store here in the desert for over 20 years."

Over the years, Myers says he learned that when you support the small businesses, you also help boost the local economy and uplift the entire community.

"It's a small town vibe. It really is," said Myers. "It's something you can't get from your corporate stores. When you walk into a small business, you can tell the difference. You learn your customers. I mean heck, some of these people I've been helping out for decades."

Although the couple loves the buzz of the busy season, which brings in new customers from all around the world, they say they're most proud to serve their regulars who have stuck by them throughout the years.

"Being a small town lets you build those other kinds of relationships," said Myers. "Its more than just 'Hi welcome in, what do you want', its 'How you been? What have you been up to? How have your kids been?'"

Another small business, Varraco Coffee + Roasters in Palm Desert, is also preparing for the slow down. They serve coffee grown and harvested in the Philippines. One of the Co-owners, Raychelle Devilla, says bringing Filipino culture to the Coachella Valley has been an honor.

"It's a sense of community," said Devilla. "A lot of our friends come here and support us. Many of them gather and hang out, you know, enjoy a cup of coffee. Take their time. Bringing in coffee from our country, it gives us pride and joy to actually share it to everyone. Sometimes I get emotional when people actually come and say stopping by our coffee shop is part of their day"

Devilla says Varraco has come up with several adjustments and shifts to their business strategy to make the most of the slow season.

"It's a time to reflect and think about what you want to do better," said Devilla. "We do a lot of training for our baristas because that's one of the biggest things we wanted to improve on. Every shot is dialed and calibrated, measured meticulously every day. So we may have less customers, but we use slow season as a training time for our employees." 

Despite the decline in tourism, all of the store owners News Channel Three's Tori King spoke to say their door remains open for business.

"Stopping by and getting your coffee here is so supportive,” said Devilla. "And then also, when you buy a bag of coffee from us, we are actually profit sharing to our farmers. And that actually helps us help them grow more of the coffee. So it's great."

"Come out and support local, because it's what gives back to the community," said Myers. "I mean, the money you give to us, stays in the community. And that's the best part, like we don't ship it out to some guy who lives in Florida paying for his mansion out there. It stays local. We leave the money where it's supposed to be, and that's here in the desert."

"You really do rely on those community members, the local customer base, the loyal residents during this time," said Riley. "They're the only reason we make it though. We need them."

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

Tori King


News Channel 3 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content