PROGRESS: For many small businesses, just staying alive is a victory |

PROGRESS: For many small businesses, just staying alive is a victory

Brian Duggan

For small businesses in Carson City, 2009 was a hurdle. Many business owners said the silver lining of 2009 was simply staying afloat with another year on the horizon, which they say – and hope – will be one of recovery.

Capital Automotive

Marcus Marchegger, co-owner of Capital Automotive, 1000 N.. Plaza St., opened his repair garage in January after spending nearly a decade in the mortgage business.

“I certainly had no idea how it was going to turn out,” Marchegger said. “Financially for us it was the biggest challenge we’ve ever had.”

Still, business has been good, Marchegger said, because “people are deciding to keep their cars fixed instead of going out and buying new ones.”

But even with their repairs, customers are cutting back, Marchegger said.

“A lot of times people are doing the minimum repairs,” he said. “But they just want to keep their cars going.”

As for 2010, Marchegger said he’s optimistic about the real estate market improving with more people buying homes, which he said he hopes will bring business to local merchants.

Java Girls

Over at Java Girls, 3667 S. Carson St., it was a “spooky year, probably for everybody,” said owner Don Emborsky. If there was any silver lining to 2009, Emborsky said, “if we can make it through 2009, we can make it through 2010.”

The coffee shop, which employs five women who serve the drinks in their underwear, opened in September 2008. Emborsky also owns a small construction firm, which he said has received some out-of-state business recently.

The Wedding Emporium

For Monica Coleman, owner of the Wedding Emporium in the Carson Mall, 1215 S. Carson St., 2009 has been a challenging year for her business and emotions.

“It’s been the hardest year I have ever had,” Coleman said. “Ever.”

In order to stay afloat, Coleman said she had to close one of her businesses, Revelations Costume. But she said the move allowed her to focus on her Wedding Emporium, which includes New 2 U Bridal, Tux Town and Revelations Photography.

“The silver lining to that is I’m still in business,” she said.

Coleman said she’s cut prices to attract customers even though her business costs have remained the same.

Next year is “going to be a year for recovery,” she said. “I don’t think our economy is ever going to be the same way. We’re learning to live with less and that’s what we’re doing.”

Brugo’s Pizza

The restaurant industry experienced one of its most challenging years in 2009, said Christina McDonald, co-owner of Brugo’s Pizza, 3228 N. Carson St.

But despite many people cutting back on the amount of money they spent on dining out, business for Brugo’s Pizza has remained stable in 2009, McDonald said.

“Our numbers are holding exactly like 2008. In Reno, there’s a tiny incline every month,” said McDonald, who co-owns the pizza shop with her husband Troy.

The McDonalds opened Brugo’s in Carson City in March 2008 and opened a second location in Reno in June.

“I would say that both Brugo’s, we don’t know why we’re blessed, but we’re holding,” McDonald said. “We’re doing OK, it’s a victory for us.”

Locals BBQ & Grill

Ralph Swagler, owner of Locals BBQ & Grill, 3849 S. Carson St., said 2009 has mirrored 2008 with one exception: its catering business is up nearly 12 percent.

“That’s a big number for us,” Swagler said. “It may not sound like a lot, but it’s a big number for us.”

Swagler said the restaurant, which celebrated its third anniversary this month, should have a better 2010 given the sudden surge in catering orders in the latter half of 2009, from weddings to fire departments in the region.

“When the economy was good, you just couldn’t do anything wrong,” Swagler said. “Of course with gas prices going up, the stock market going down and people losing their jobs, 2008 was something we all wanted to forget about. 2010 will be better than 2009 by a long shot.”

Mattress King

When Mark Bawkins and Cory Crawford lost their jobs at a mattress dealer earlier this year as a result of a sour economy, they decided to open their own business.

As a result of the economy, Bawkins said, people are no longer purchasing mattresses that cost $2,000 or more, instead opting for models under $1,000.

The store, 445 Fairview Dr., opened less than a month ago and Bawkins said he and his partner are looking forward to 2010.

“We’re just a couple of local boys,” Bawkins said.