For Shopaholics

Posted on March 9, 2017

Stores from midtown to downtown to Old Sacramento expect (and already are starting to see) big things.

Photography by Tyler & Christina

Of the dozens of stores and boutiques that fill in the matrix of midtown, downtown and beyond, three have the distinction of having opened as winners, under the auspices of the annual Calling All Dreamers business competition created by the Downtown Sacramento Foundation: Andy’s Candy Apothecary, at 1012 Ninth St.; Allspicery, at 1125 11th St., and Ana Apple, in Old Sacramento, which creates and sells original children’s clothing.

The contest, inspired by the TV series “Shark Tank,” encourages budding entrepreneurs to create a business from scratch in the hope of getting even more scratch—a start-up package said to be worth $100,000.

Each of the businesses is right near, kind-of near or just a short walk from Golden 1 Center and Downtown Commons. To be sure, that proximity spurred each owner to create a business plan and model that would take full advantage of the expected influx of new shoppers.

“I already saw a curve starting downtown but the arrival of the arena supercharged everything,” says Andy Paul, 44, founder and co-owner with his wife, Camille Esch, of Andy’s Candy Apothecary on 1012 Ninth St. “I grew up in Cleveland, where the arenas totally transformed the city. Sacramento already had a lot going for it.” Paul says his candy store’s weekday traffic is huge—“People get their sweet tooth at different times of the day and it’s a good reason to leave the office for a while”—and that weekends are “starting to pick up. I think a lot of people are coming downtown to kind of size things up before the arena opens.” He expects, he says, “at least a 50 percent boost in business” once the arena is in full swing.

A few blocks away, at 1125 11th St., owner-founder Heather Wong has created Allspicery—a tidy little boutique next to the popular lobbyist watering hole, Chops—that sells, as its name implies, all manner of spices (and herbs) from all around the world. “I started this because of my love of food,” she says. “When you love food, you have to prepare it and spices make that happen.”

Wong, whose previous job was selling renewable energy to utilities, says the coming arena will provide “an economic boost to the whole community. People will start hanging out downtown after a long day at the office. Already, people drop in when they’re out. Some see what we have and say, ‘I’ll be back in later with my spouse who does the cooking.’” She smiles. “You’d be surprised how many of the cooks are the husbands.”

“I’m having a fun time right now,” Wong says, “but it’s not without a certain degree of stress.” It could be because in addition to running her own business “for the first time in my life,” she and her husband, Stanley Chan—who “doesn’t work with me,” she says with a laugh—have a 1-year-old child.

Meanwhile, in Sacramento’s midtown, Jacqueline Joseph, 22, manages the boutique Felicia Strati at 1901 Capitol Ave. While the store “has a very specialized clientele,” offering women upscale European clothing and accessories, Joseph says its eponymous owner is “very excited we’ll get more of a traffic flow” when people make a day of visiting Sacramento, a scenario most retailers and restaurateurs are counting on.

Selling to a different, younger crowd, Vanessa Lopez, 34, owns Heart Clothing Boutique next door to Felicia Strati. She says that people living “in Roseville and El Dorado Hills have been driving into town to get familiar with the area.” She laughs and says, “I think they’re relearning how to parallel park because they haven’t needed to do so for a long time.”