Women seek to boost Park City’s small businesses with #PCNative campaign
Visitors and Parkites alike may be beginning to notice orange #PCNative decals plastered on store windows along Main Street and elsewhere in town. They signify that a store is owned by a woman and also that it is locally owned, something Park City entrepreneurs say is becoming more rare as market forces make it harder for small businesses to thrive.
Blaire Isleib and Kristen Doyon, the owners of the boutique Flight on Main Street, started the #PCNative campaign a few months ago with the hope that the decals and hashtag will encourage patrons to shop locally and help keep small businesses alive. Isleib said that, while an influx of chain stores along Main Street in recent years has drawn more people to the area, it has also brought rising rent prices. In turn, many local business owners have found it difficult to compete.
The #PCNative campaign, Isleib hopes, will boost small businesses by making them more visible to shoppers. The idea quickly spread, and as of Monday 14 stores had the decal in their windows. While Isleib is happy with the size of the campaign, she anticipates it will continue to grow as other businesses learn of it through word of mouth and social media.
Isleib said that, while the campaign is still fairly new, Flight customers have already taken notice.
“We’ve had a lot of people asking us about the decals so hopefully once they are aware of it, they notice it all along the Main Street and throughout Park City in other store windows,” she said.
Michael Barille, the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents the interests of businesses along Main Street, said that Park City’s local stores add a distinct flavor to the town.
“Our local businesses are critical to differentiating Historic Park City from comparable destinations and ensuring that we don’t become a homogeneous mix of the same retailers that populate most upscale shopping areas,” he said in an email.
While the campaign is open to any local business owner, including men, it is specifically aimed at female entrepreneurs.
Kathleen Barlow, the director of the Park City Women’s Business Network, said that female businesses ownership in Park City is increasing. While the Park City Women’s Business Network is not affiliated with the campaign, she said support from other women is critical to helping female local business owners stay afloat.
“We, as women, whether we’re married, in a relationship, children or no children, often do other things, as well as what we do for a living, and we know that we have the same challenges, so we’re really good at supporting each other in our businesses and also in our personal lives,” she said.
Isleib said having the support of other women who are facing similar obstacles has been encouraging.
“We’ve gotten together and come up with marketing ideas and more ways to help each other, so it’s kind of like a club at this point,” she said.
Maren Mullin, the owner of Gallery Mar on Main Street, recently hosted an event for the women in the #PCNative campaign so they could get to know each other and take photos for the campaign. Isleib hopes that, as the campaign grows, they will continue to have events dedicated to building a network of like-minded business owners.
Emily White, who opened the party supply store Wish in Kimball Junction four years ago and is a member of #PCNative, said that the women in the campaign have become her friends and that she relies on them for support.
“Instead of being in competition with each other, we’ve all collaborated together and we’re all interested in helping grow each other’s businesses,” she said.
Many women participating in #PCNative have owned businesses in Park City for several years, like Isleib and Doyon, who opened Flight nine years ago after growing up in Park City. Lori Halls, who owns Mary Jane’s on Main Street, said a lot has changed since the store opened in 2004. She said the best way for local businesses to stay afloat in Main Street’s new era is for small business owners, especially women, to support each other.
“I think you see a movement nationwide to support women in business, as well as in your community, so we’re looking at that in the same lens and saying let’s support women in the Park City marketplace as well,” she said.
Halls, Isleib and Doyon said that, despite the challenges small businesses face, they are hopeful locally owned stores will continue to exist in Park City for years to come.
Barille agreed, saying small businesses are a vital element of what makes the town special.
“Local business owners are mainstays on the street; many have been in business for 30+ years and those that are new add current flavor and keep the district nimble in responding to consumer wants and desires,” he said.
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