Tara Leon-Bertol has fond memories of growing up in Boulder City.
“It was a place where you could get on your bike with your friends and ride uptown to get a milkshake or go to the arcade,” Leon-Bertoli said. “It’s still a place like that up here, though the kids might be on longboards now. It’s a lot slower pace than Vegas.”
Residents in the city of about 16,000 tend to embrace that small-town vibe, which will be on full display this weekend as stores and restaurants celebrate Small Business Saturday.
One of the places participating in the shop-small holiday — the answer to Black Friday and its army of big-box retailers — is the Boulder City Co. Store, the new business she owns with her husband, Dr. Troy Bertoli.
Part Boulder City-themed clothing and retail store and part coffee shop, the business celebrated its grand opening on Friday.
The shop at 525 Avenue B is in a building that once housed a store that served the thousands of workers who built Hoover Dam in the 1930s. Leon-Bertoli bought the old building, which was previously an antique store, in April.
“It’s all about trying to stay true, authentic Boulder City,” Leon-Bertoli said. “We have a cool history here. As kids, we used to throw golf balls off the dam when we got bored to hear the ping at the bottom. As I got older and started to dive into this restoration project, I got more and more into the history we have here.”
That’s not to say nothing changes in Boulder City.
Last year, the Interstate 11 bypass opened, rerouting thousands of vehicles around the city and worrying some store owners about losing customers.
Some businesses that thrive on sheer volume took a hit, but the highway project has been net positive for the town by reducing congestion and making it easier for visitors to get in and out, city officials and business leaders said.
“Spending from local people has increased by about 10% since (the bypass) opened, so I think it has allowed our residents to enjoy what they have a little more,” Mayor Kiernan McManus said. “Some of the businesses, like gas stations, may have lost some revenue, but other businesses seem to be doing very well.”
Jill Lagan, CEO of the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce, said it was “an unknown what would happen when the traffic stopped coming through town…What we’ve seen is an influx of Las Vegas Valley people coming to Boulder City.”
Leon-Bertoli said it’s easier to get to Boulder City now.
“We don’t have semis that block the people who just want to spend the day. We’ve stepped up our game, and we want people to stop by Boulder City,” she said.
Darren Mancusi, owner of the Treasure Finds gift shop at Boulder Dam Plaza, doesn’t have any complaints. He and his wife Lucia Patane, ran a similar store in New York before moving to Boulder City last year and opening Treasure Finds in April.
“The weather is great here, and it’s a better quality of life,” Mancusi said.
Treasure Finds, which sells antiques and things such as handbags, jewelry and novelty items, plans to celebrate Small Business Saturday by offering 25% off everything in the store.
“Amazon dominates the world,” Mancusi said. “But small businesses are able to cater to people more and give them a better experience. We get a lot of repeat customers because of our service. When people walk in our store, we thank them just for coming in.”