Students, downtown businesses reap mutual benefits

Bookstore (web)
Josh Mills and Muir Hughes, owners of The Bookstore in downtown Chico, were able to buy the business in 2013 after raising more than $35,000 through crowdfunding on the Internet. Hughes said they both grew up in Chico and have a close connection to the community. Photo credit: Alisa Thorsen

From restaurants to tattoo parlors and everything in between, downtown Chico is home to many different businesses. While these businesses contribute to student life in Chico, they also rely heavily on the influx of students during when school is in session.

The downtown area is the heart of Chico, said Muir Hughes, co-owner of The Bookstore on Main Street. Hughes works alongside her husband, Josh Mills.

“This is a place where people can explore,” Hughes said. “It is truly very exciting.”

The Bookstore’s business picks up significantly at the beginning of the semester when students are looking for books. The staff is always eager to help students get the books they need to succeed, Hughes said.

“It can be life-changing actually, picking up one really good, eye-opening book,” she said. “We both grew up in Chico and love this community.”

Other businesses in the downtown area echo the same sentiments.

Lori Powers, owner of Upper Crust Bakery & Eatery, has been providing baked goods for the Chico community for more than 20 years.

Being close to the campus is a big factor in the success of her business, she said.

“It has been a wonderful place to call home,” Powers said. “We love downtown. We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

When the students are gone during the summer is a slower time for business. However, the slower times give her more of a feel for the different people from the community that come in and contribute to the diversity of Chico, she said.

“One thing that has given me the greatest satisfaction is that all kinds of folks come in here.” Powers says. “Families with little kids, and obviously students and other campus employees. We love that it is a place where everyone feels comfortable.”

Art plays an important role in the Chico community as well, and the Eye of Jade Tattoo shop adds to the assortment of artistry.

As a new member of the neighborhood, having just opened last August, the tattoo shop recognizes the importance of the downtown business for students.

The shop has a lot to offer students, said tattoo artist Jackie Rabbit.

“We make them pretty,” Rabbit said. “All types of people come in here, but students seem to really love piercings and tattoos.”

Whether it’s a bookstore or a busy bakery, the downtown Chico area has a wide range of shops and stores that contribute to the culture of Chico. They depend on students to keep their businesses alive and thriving, while students look to them for entertainment and leisure.

Alisa Thorsen can be reached at [email protected] or @alisathorsen on Twitter.