Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Does Your Storefront Need a Facelift?

A business’ storefront is a 24 hour advertisement. Imagine the storefront façade of a business as a billboard. This is the first physical impression a customer gets. A storefront also has an effect on a business’ surrounding community. Aesthetically pleasing facades can be a source of community pride, and even the modest storefront improvements can be a catalyst for economic development and neighborhood revitalization.

Candace Davis, an Accion client and owner of Ethnicity’s Unique Boutique, is well aware of the benefits that a beautiful storefront can have on a business and its neighboring community. Candace has a passion for bringing culturally unique, ethnic art, home décor and accessories to her community and feels that her storefront at 6385 Imperial Avenue does not accurately represent the products she sells. However, due to a lack of capital, Candace has not been able to begin a storefront makeover that she feels will have a positive impact on her business.

Many small business owners, like Candace, face similar challenges in securing the capital they need to improve their storefronts. The City of San Diego is well aware of these challenges and offers programs to help. The San Diego Storefront Improvement Program (SIP) is administered by the city's Office of Small Business and is offered to small business owners who have 12 or fewer employees and are located in the City of San Diego.

The program provides rebates for improvement costs covering up to one-third of the improvement bill, up to $5,000. The rebate cap can increase to $7,500 to restore or renovate buildings listed on the city’s historic register and up to $10,000 for larger commercial properties divided into several storefront businesses. The rebate also covers up to 10 free hours of design assistance provided by a licensed architect. The goal of the program is to provide small business owners the capital they need in order to enhance and revitalize the commercial environment of San Diego.

Alissa Gabirel, SIP’s Program Manager, is a very knowledgeable resource for businesses interested in improving their storefronts. “Over the years, the SIP program has played an important role in many San Diego community redevelopment projects such as Ocean Beach, Adams Avenue, and North Park,” Alissa shared. “The storefront improvements helps make our communities more attractive, which creates increased foot traffic and patronage of our local businesses, which ultimately leads to more jobs.”

Candace plans to soon apply for the Storefront Improvement Program and feels confident that the improvements will enhance her community and her business’ success. She also recently received an Accion loan and plans to use part of it to begin making her much needed storefront improvements.

If your storefront is in need of a facelift, contact Alissa Gabriel at the city’s Office of Small Business at (619) 533-5305 or Or check out their website.

Find Ethnicity's Unique Boutique on Facebook.

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