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By Roz Rogoff

Shop Small Business Saturday

Uploaded: Nov 24, 2011

I'm posting this on Thursday afternoon for my Friday blog entry. Friday as most of us know, but I don't know why, is called "Black Friday," because it is the big pre-Christmas sale day in the big retail chain stores. This is when a few early bird consumers can buy TV's for a dollar (or whatever) if they camp all night in front of the store. So what is that now, Occupy Target? Well not for me.

Last year I waited by my computer for "Cyber Monday," to order big discounts online, but not this year. This year is Small Business Saturday, and I shall go out to my favorite local businesses and buy a thing or two.

Not all of my favorite small businesses are for everyday shopping; so I'm letting my readers know about local, small businesses I recommend that you may not be aware of.

I have a moderate to severe hearing loss in both ears. In early 2009 I was fitted for a hearing aid by Audiologist Sarah Carey at The Hearing Center in Bishop Ranch 11. Sarah was able to locate one demo and one reconditioned Starkey 1200 behind the ear hearing aids at 1/3 the regular price. She spent a lot of time with me adjusting and tuning the aids without any additional charge. I highly recommend Sarah Carey for any hearing instrument, in the ear or behind the ear. She will get you the best deal possible and gives excellent service (925) 830-5094. Tell her Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer, sent you.

I need bifocals now and I have two different eye glass prescriptions, one for computer work and one for distance. A few years ago I bought glasses at Sears Optical, which is run by Lens Crafters. This year I went to Eyelab Factory Outlet in San Ramon (925) 837-3111. It sounds like a chain, but it is locally owned. It is more expensive than Lens Crafters but you get more personalized attention and the frames are better quality.

Eyelab also makes custom clip-on sun blockers. These are not the usual cheap flip-ups. They are cut to fit over your glasses and clip on to look attractive. They come regular or polarized to cut glare. They would make a nice Christmas present for any eye-glass wearer. Tell the owner you read about it in the San Ramon Observer blog in the San Ramon Express.

Around the corner from Eyelab, which is in the Safeway Shopping Center on San Ramon Valley Blvd, is Levy's Bagels. I'm not a fan of bagels. Bagels have become the Jewish ethnic food-de-jour, but Levy's isn't just for bagels. It's really a Jewish deli.

It's the best and only authentic East-Coast style Jewish deli I've found in the Tri-Valley. They not only make and sell bagels, which are pretty good for hard, crusty, doughy donuts (I was never fond of bagels in case you can't tell). They make and sell traditional Jewish deli sandwiches on bagels or better yet on corn bread.

Corn bread? How can they make a sandwich on cakey, yellow, corn bread, you ask? No it's not the Marie Calendar's kind of corn bread. It's Jewish Corn Bread which doesn't have any corn in it. I don't know where the name came from, but it is really a dark, chewy rye bread. When I was a kid I would cut the heel off a fresh loaf and chew it for ten minutes. I have not found authentic Jewish Corn Rye bread anywhere else in this region, and here it is at Levy's in San Ramon, right across the driveway from the new BevMo.

It's hard to find a service business that's still small or locally owned. That's why when I need an electrician I call McGuire Electric, (925) 829-1190. McGuire Electric is Michael McGuire. He lives down the street from me in South San Ramon, but he travels all over the County for jobs. He installed my tankless electric water heaters, not once but several times, until I found a reliable model that didn't leak or burn out. I need outside lights installed on the South side of my house. I shall probably buy them from OSH or Lowes (not small businesses), but I'll call Michael to install them.

Auto shops are usually small local businesses. I take my Maverick to Ray's Dublin Auto . Yup that's in Dublin. I like to shop in Dublin over Danville or even the auto shops in the North end of San Ramon, because it's easier for me in South San Ramon to get to places in Dublin, and they are usually less expensive. Ray knows how to keep my 1973 Ford Maverick Grabber running at peak performance.

Another Dublin small business I love is Denica's Pastry Café . This is on Dougherty Road near Dublin Blvd. They have the best pumpkin muffins and oatmeal walnut raisin cookies. They also serve breakfast and lunch in the bakery side and lunch and dinner in the adjacent Taco Lounge. The business is located in Dublin, but the owners, Denica and James Freitas, live in San Ramon. They are the nicest, most hardworking family you could ever meet. Please visit Denica's and tell her Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer sent you.

Another small business that's not in San Ramon but is local is McHale's Insulation . That's all they do is insulation. They insulated my attic in 1999, and last year came back to top up the insulation as part of the warranty. Can you believe that?

Tom McHale sold the business two years ago but still works for it as an estimator. He came over earlier this year to give me an estimate on insulating the floor under my house. What a nice guy, even my cats like him. The crew did the job in October and I can tell the difference it made in cutting down how often my furnace goes on. I should have had this done years ago.

Last but not least are the pet stores and vets. ABC Vet Clinic in the North end of San Ramon provides low cost spay and neutering for Safe-Cat and other animal rescue groups. Dr. Raj is the sole vet there, in contrast to the expanded staff at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care. Their Pet Care Depot is the only independent pet store left in San Ramon now that Nicia's Pet Depot has closed.

One more small business I'd like to point out is the San Ramon Express. This online news source is part of the Embarcadero Publishing Company in Palo Alto. The Palo Alto Weekly has been around since 1979. The East Bay side of Embarcadero Publishing began 10 years ago with the Pleasanton Weekly and expanded into Danville and now San Ramon and Dublin.

I'm not in advertising sales, but if anyone reading this has a small business who wants to advertise locally, this is the place. The other local online newspaper is owned by American Online (not a small business), and the paper newspaper with the local name is part of Media News Group, which by their own description is "one of the largest newspaper companies in the United States."

If you want to keep your business local and accessible, Embarcadero Publishing has a Shop San Ramon website where you can start a FREE local webpage. Check it out. I may take them up on it for my writing and training business. So stay local, stay small, and shop Small Business Saturday and every day.