Mar 1, 2022
Amidst the Covid 19 pandemic, Caroline Bontia founded Shop Local Healdsburg in order to support and promote small businesses within Healdsburg.
Healdsburg is known for being a tourist town, attracting numerous outsiders allured by the notion of being in the heart of the wine country. As the town has developed over the years, businesses have been established that cater to the high end luxurious experience that visitors desire. Local businesses are abundant, however shopping locally oftentimes is not at the forefront of many locals’ priorities. Consequently, amidst the Covid 19 pandemic, Caroline Bontia founded Shop Local Healdsburg in order to support and promote small businesses within Healdsburg.
Shop Local Healdsburg exists on various social media platforms, primarily Instagram and the Shop Local website. With nearly 3k followers on Instagram, Bontia’s outreach has been extremely successful in boosting and supporting local businesses. Through the use of Q&A’s, business directories, event happenings, spotlighting bestsellers, and more she has brought awareness and publicity to countless local shops.
The idea came about during the height of the pandemic, originating with the objective of helping people find ways to get contactless front door food delivery. From there the idea further evolved and expanded.
“I created it with the goal of really connecting the community and to also learn how to shop locally myself,” said Bontia.
Bontia’s background truly set her up for being such a large proponent of the movement toward shopping locally. She was born in Manilla, Philippines, but then moved to Caines, Australia at the age of 5. While growing up in Australia, Bontia spent much of her childhood helping her immigrant parents manage their neighborhood grocery store. She lived in this small touristy town near the Great Barrier Reef for 10 years, where she learned the ins and outs of being a small business owner.
“At the time the store was the center of my universe, and I spent all my time helping my family grow their business. As a result I have always had a very personal connection to small businesses,” she said.
Currently, she lives full time in Healdsburg, and is happy to call the small town her home. Bontia works full time as Senior Contracts Manager for Dropbox and is lead on the legal team in their San Francisco office. Bontia describes Shop Local as more of a side passion project that is not for profit.
Shop Local has had an immense impact on many local businesses in Healdsburg, including hotels, wineries, florists, and an assortment of other businesses. Skip Brand, owner of the Healdsburg Running Company (HRC), expressed great gratitude for all that Bontina had done to support his business.
“HRC has been partnered with Shop Local since the beginning with our #food2firefighters and #healthcareheoros campaigns for charity,” he said. Together these charities were very successful, and raised over $100 K. Brand expressed that he has always been a big proponent of shopping locally, and appreciates the social media cross promotion.
“Shopping Locally is 100% of HRC business,” he said in support of the local business movement, stressing how much Shop Local has impacted his business personally.
In order to thank Bontina for all she had done for the local community, Brand’s wife, Holly Brand organized a campaign to give back to Bontia for all she had done. She was able to organize 30-plus shops to give gifts for Christmas in order to express their gratitude for all she had done to benefit their businesses. “Holly was just amazing and rallied so many gifts for my husband and I. We were just overwhelmed honestly,” Bontia expressed with gratitude.
“You can't quantify dollar amounts that went to the businesses, but I can certainly count the gratitude I have for just connecting with people during these hard times, and that's definitely been the most rewarding,” said Bontia.