Q&A with Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Erin Mewes

As the northernmost town in Sonoma County, Cloverdale is used to a slower lifestyle. Some county residents pejoratively called him “Clovertucky” to describe this ideal.

In recent years, however, with the boom in the real estate industry throughout the county, Cloverdale has come of age. The city has made infrastructure improvements. New businesses have moved in. A husband and wife duo stepped in and restored the movie theater. Visitors are no longer just passing through Cloverdale on their way to Mendocino; now they make it a destination. Local business owner Erin Mewes is chair of the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce and has watched this transformation unfold.

We asked the Mewes, who have been part of the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce for four years, what makes Cloverdale about the growth of the town and what comes next.

Q: What businesses do you own and how long have you lived in Cloverdale?

A: I own two retail stores: a women’s clothing store called Erin Mavis and a modern five-and-dime called Heart City. The latter is a gift shop for all ages. I moved here five years ago.

Q: How would you describe Cloverdale to someone who has never been there?

A: It’s really quiet. It is very simple. It is a small local community. Over the past five to 10 years, many Bay Area transplants have moved in, particularly to the River Road wineries. Cloverdale today looks like Healdsburg was in the 1990s – sort of a local town with few tourists. This is what makes its charm. People tend to think Cloverdale is very far because they don’t drive the extra 13 minutes it takes to get here from Healdsburg. It would be nice if people didn’t quite consider it so far.

Q: This idea of ​​Cloverdale being a rural outpost has prompted some to use the term ‘Clovertucky’. What do you think of this sentence?

A: Some people don’t like it, but I think it’s been embraced by the locals. We have a local brewpub (the Railroad Station Bar & Grill) that has a “Clovertucky Special” on their menu. It’s a fried chicken dinner. We try to have fun with it.

Q: What is the business climate like in Cloverdale today?

A: We are very lucky to have a very strong local clientele. Cloverdale is a bit removed from the rest of the county geographically. People don’t want to take the 101 to head north to Ukiah or south to Santa Rosa, so people are really grateful and supportive of the local businesses we have in town. Many downtown improvements have revolved around the Silverwood Building, which Barry Hoffner bought in 2017 and remodeled more than two years later. This building extends from Cloverdale Boulevard for almost the entirety of First Street. It has ample parking at the rear. Hoffner renovated the building to house all sorts of new businesses and restaurants. I wanted to be part of the project, and that’s where my shops are today. The building also houses the Trading Post restaurant, a yoga studio, an insurance office and our local print shop. There is also one place available.

Q: How much change do you expect to see in downtown Cloverdale?

A: We have a few vacancies in the downtown area. We would like people to take them. Most spaces are rented. The old bank building – we were looking forward to something happening in there. Permits have been pulled for a major project, and the wheels are in motion for something to open up there.

Q: What role do you see tourism playing in the future of Cloverdale?

A: We would certainly like more money for tourism. We don’t want to go crazy with tourism, but we are very excited about tourism which we believe will start to arrive. We have a large, beautiful Victorian house that has just opened as a bed and breakfast, the Simon Pinschower House. This was purchased by Ken Wilson, of the Wilson Winery family. They own several buildings in town. There are many other projects going on that will be good for us. We have a lot of day tourism in Cloverdale, but not a lot of night tourism. We get a lot of bike touring and a lot of people stop here on their way to Mendocino – they have a tradition of stopping at Pick’s for a burger or Plank for a coffee.

Q: How important is it to create local businesses, ie business between locals?

A: It’s really important. Tourism dollars are good, but I don’t think we need tourism to survive. I have been a retailer for 30 years, the key to success and longevity is local commerce. And I know a lot of companies here are investing heavily in that. When we talk about serving local customers, it comes down to many things: loyalty, relationships, philanthropy, sponsorship of sports teams. Working with locals means creating a relationship where the community knows you support them and they in turn support you. Social media has also been good for this – I have a national following on social media, but I target my locals via social media on a daily basis. The chamber also does a good job of promoting local businesses on social media.

Q: What role do you see the Chamber of Commerce playing over the next five years?

A: The Chamber will continue to be involved. During COVID-19, we took on the role of assisting members with loans. Our local chamber is also responsible for events and festivals – the annual car show, the winter festival, our 4th of July parade. We will be there to support our businesses however we can. One of the things we’ve done is help businesses with social media; we offer free tutorials where members can learn how to create Instagram and Facebook pages. This way they can make their name known. We have an active corporate group in our chamber and I see it continuing.

Q: Looking ahead, what are the biggest challenges Cloverdale will face in the years to come?

A: I think the biggest challenge is letting the rest of the county know that we have so much to offer. We are not that far. If people want to get out of the hectic climate where they live and come and see what we’re doing, then it’s amazing, come on up. Beyond that, I think it’s important for us to maintain the relationships we have with people who have been here for a while and build new relationships with newcomers so that everyone feels to be part of something special.