By Riley Kankelburg
Anyone still unaware of the Camas Small Business Revolution needs only to walk down Main Street (4th Avenue) to get an idea of the competition’s scale. Small businesses throughout the downtown area are sporting town pride. Windows are plastered with signs asking for votes, all of which contribute to a grand prize. If Camas is declared the winner of the Revolution, $500,000 will be awarded to help six of our small businesses. Not to mention the TV crew that will come to town.
One small business hoping to benefit from a top spot in the national competition is Natalia’s Café. Since the February 12 announcement declaring Camas one of the top five competitors, owners Erica Slothower and Wendy DelBosque have been working nonstop to make sure anyone nearby is aware of the competition.
“I have been keeping my café hostage because people cannot eat until they have voted,” Slothower said.— Erica Slothhower, owner of Natalia’s
Hoping to drum up as many votes as possible during the final stretch of the competition, the two owners performed a brief skit as Two Broke Camas Girls, which can be seen on the Lacamas Magazine YouTube channel. They dressed up in the classic yellow and red waitress costumes to encourage the community to cast their votes. While the video itself was hilarious, seeing the behind-the-scenes of filming it showed why everyone should be participating in the Revolution. I was only present for the filming, but I could tell that the skit was a final push in a long fight for Camas’s victory. Everyone was exhausted, and yet the energy in the café was so high you wouldn’t be able to guess that this campaign has been running for a long time. It’s no wonder everyone is so excited. Camas is one of the top five finalists out of over 12,000 nominations.
Natalia’s Café, in particular, is hoping Camas wins so they can get a new grill. No matter the outcome, they agree that making number three in the competition would be a huge achievement for the community. “We do have a voting booth here,” DelBosque said. “We’ve been trying to get as many people to come in and vote here from the community, so business owners, customers from other places, our own customers. We have hit people up on the street, and we’re calling ourselves the voting capital of Camas.”
As if to prove that point, Slothower ran outside a couple of seconds later to ask a passersby if they voted, something everyone present did at least once while making the video.
There have been a couple of bumps in the road, and the most difficult thing has been getting the word out. “We’ve had a couple of people that don’t have any kind of digital footprint,” DelBosque told me. “And the most frustrating thing has been how many people are completely unaware of it. That has been the biggest shocker.” As I can attest firsthand, that has not been for lack of trying. Everyone in the café had information cards practically spilling out of their pockets, encouraging people to participate.
The push for the Small Business Revolution win demonstrates one of the things people love about small towns: community. From the decorations on store windows to the social media shout outs, there is a massive involvement from citizens. An opportunity to shine a light on Camas and its businesses has fired up town pride and earned a ton of votes, and every single one counts. If anything, the competition has brought out a large amount of small-town pride.