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“Promoting a vibrant community and celebrating our culture.” #SFSBW2015 Interview: Mission Bernal Merchant Association

#SFSBW2015 asked small business owners and some of the organizations that support them throughout the year to share insights, best practices, stories and resources to help small businesses flourish in today’s marketplace.

Today we hear from Erin Archuleta, President of the Mission Bernal Merchant’s Association.

Tell us about your organization.

We are an emerging merchants’ association for business owners on the Mission Street Corridor between Cesar Chavez and Randall Streets, promoting a vibrant community and celebrating our culture.

What is your organization doing to help small business owners navigate today’s increasingly competitive marketplace?

We are liaising with the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development to provide workshops for merchants to have access to city services and agencies and to support whatever needsMayor Lee Tours MBMA Businesses, like  ICHI Sushi
so many of our Mom and Pop businesses have to remain anchors in our community. We are also providing essential services like graffiti prevention, managing the relationship with our local police station, providing a bridge to the Mission Public Life Plan project, support the community input process for SFMTA and MUNI Forward, as well as throw events and community parties that promote the neighborhood.

What is your organization doing to attract and support new and younger small business owners who are starting out today? What are you doing to bridge the gap between old and new businesses?

By direct contact and face-to-face communication with our Corridor Manager, Abner Morales, our merchants are able to express their specific needs, whether they be a Kickstarted fledgling business or a 30+ year legacy business. We have contributed to Supervisor Campos’ legislative work to retain and celebrate the businesses that have defined a neighborhood, as well as seek neighbors to fill vacant storefronts in our corridor. We welcome home-bound businesses, who perhaps don’t yet have a brick and mortar location.

Please describe one of your organization’s innovations. How has this enhanced way you reach and serve your clients or members?

We are providing regular workshops that help bridge the gap for our merchants. Whether it be the new implementation of Chip and Pin technology (coming soon!), or simply a social media basics seminar and PR best practices, we offer experts as a resource to our community. We also share all pending legislation announcements that impact our merchants.

What is one lesson you would like to share with small business owners—especially those who are struggling to change the way they do business in the current climate?

We have provided leasing workshops with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (considering the rental market changes), and have brought in finance partners like MEDA, to answer specific questions about the cost of doing business in the city. We have provided ADA consulting services through the Mayor’s Office Invest in Neighborhoods program so that business owners can prepare and make changes to better evolve and serve all.

What is the most important belief or principle that guides your work and the trajectory of your organization?

We are an organization working to protect, promote, and preserve the business conditions and vitality within our commercial district.

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