Downtown Perspective

Bettina Swigger
Bettina Swigger
Chief Executive Officer

As we move into a new decade, a new year, and with so many new businesses in Downtown San Luis Obispo (a whopping 46 since January 2019, 32 of which are locally-owned!), Downtown SLO, the organization, is also looking to turn over a new leaf. We’ll start that renewal with a new Strategic Plan, which will be developed through a process involving the community at large to usher in a new era of growth and vitality. Our current mission is to foster an economically vibrant downtown, and we do that by advocating for and serving the 625+ businesses downtown, partnering with the City of San Luis Obispo to ensure that Downtown is clean and safe, and by activating our public spaces with popular programs and events like the weekly Thursday Night Farmers’ Market, summertime Friday Concerts in the Plaza, and last month’s Holiday Happenings, including the 44th Annual Holiday Parade, Holiday Window Decorating Contest, Santa’s House and the Classic Carousel in Mission Plaza, and the Holiday Tree.

Basically, we’re about bringing people together. Stay tuned for your opportunity to give feedback into our Strategic Plan by participating in our surveys and listening groups, starting this month. We want to hear from residents, visitors, downtown businesses, and also from people who live all over the Central Coast region who visit our downtown to shop, enjoy our restaurants, and cultural institutions. Follow @DowntownSLO on Facebook and Instagram to get involved.

January also means we’re launching our new suite of Businesses Education Series. These sessions take place quarterly and are free for our members to attend, and will focus on elements of business development that are specific to downtown businesses. The first will feature a guest from Los Angeles, Charles Babinski, of Go Get ‘Em Tiger. I first met Charles in Colorado when he was a teenager working in the back of a fine dining restaurant where I was a hostess, and we struck up a friendship over our mutual love of books and music. Charles has gone on to become a World Barista Champion, and he is also the proprietor of a chain of seven most popular hipster destinations in greater LA. He’ll be talking about his experience growing a business and traveling the world serving as a coffee advocate/educator.


Joining Charles will be the talented McCall Stone, retail store manager of the local Sock Drawer, a store that sells, you guessed it, socks, which started as a brick and mortar and has developed into a hugely popular online store. Learn how The Sock Drawer, now one of the largest online sock companies in the world, works together to pick the best sock brands based on the eclectic style needs of their amazing customers.

New this year for our Business Education Series, Downtown SLO will be bringing in expert coaches from the Small Business Development Center, housed on Higuera Street above Ross in the Cal Poly Hothouse/Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. These coaches will be available to partner with the businesses who attend the education series to turn education into action. Registration is required for the Business Education Series sessions. Find more information on our website below. Join us on January 10 at 8 am for the first Business Education Series workshop of 2020 and Happy New Year!

Kat Thompson
Author: Kat Thompson