A Love Letter to Small Business

By Ali Stofflet, Director of Business Outreach & Growth

The 1980s may largely be remembered for significant events such as the launch of the Challenger and the marriage of Diana and Charles, both of which unfortunately ended in disaster. Amidst these events, a 51-year-old widow from a small town in Montana made a bold decision to embark on a new journey by starting a chocolate shop on the Oregon coast. This woman was my grandmother, and it was in her shop that I not only indulged in sweets but also cultivated a passion for entrepreneurship.

Under her guidance, I learned the intricacies of salesmanship, understanding that successful sales meant not just profits but also the freedom to close up shop and enjoy leisure time at the beach. Although I may not have fully appreciated the lessons at the time, I later applied them when I ventured into my own business endeavors, albeit after a few dental fillings.

For five years, I operated a product distribution company specializing in natural parenting products. My clientele consisted of small boutique stores across the United States, each owned by individuals who, like myself, took calculated risks and invested heavily in their dreams. Even the brands I distributed were the brainchildren of ambitious entrepreneurs who dared to pursue their visions without certainty of success. In our shared experiences of financial strain, exhaustive work hours, and late-night anxieties over unpaid invoices, we found solidarity.

My departure from the industry coincided with the closure of many of these small shops, evoking a profound sense of melancholy. Each shuttered storefront represented more than a loss of business; it signified potential financial struggles for the proprietors, diminished fundraising revenues for the nonprofits they supported, and personal sacrifices for employees striving to make ends meet.

While discussions about small businesses often revolve around statistics and economic indicators—undoubtedly crucial elements—it is the human aspect that drives my passion. Reflecting on my grandmother’s dedication and the joy her chocolates brought to customers, I am reminded that businesses are more than just profit margins; they are embodiments of human connections and communal bonds. Whether it’s the familiarity of a favorite restaurant or the assurance that an insurance broker can afford summer camp for their child, businesses are sustained by the people behind them.

It is this passion for the people behind the business that drives me in my role as the Director of Business Outreach & Growth. It is my profound pleasure to support businesses. If you or your business are in need of programming, resources, or support, please reach out to me.

Through the B.O.L.D. 2026 initiative, the Arvada Chamber is dedicated to creating resources, programs, and events to increase direct support for entrepreneurs. To learn more about the resources available and how the Arvada Chamber can assist, please contact Ali Stofflet at ali@arvadachamber.org.


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