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Carson Mall ready for Small Business Saturday

Esteban Carranza, the 32-year-old owner of Blissed Out Skate Shop at Carson Mall, summed up the spirit of the small business:

“It’s scary,” he said, “to take everything you have and hope it works out.”

As one of the newest companies in Carson Mall, Carranza is not alone. The mall has more than 20 stores. Most of them are corner shops. The mall also has a variety of restaurants. Together and individually, companies have prepared for the holiday shopping season, including Small Business Saturday on November 26th.

On Monday, the Appeal toured the mall with Ronni Hannaman, executive director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce, and Chelsea Lavender, the mall’s advertising director.

Chelsea Lavender, Isabella McConnell and Ronni Hannaman at Magical Moments at Carson Mall on November 21. (Photo by Scott Neuffer)

“It’s the oldest indoor mall in Nevada,” Lavender said, noting that the mall was built in 1972. “We are almost at 100 percent capacity.”

The mall is now decked out for the holidays, full of kaleidoscopic offerings, not only from the established store fronts, but also from the vendors at the festive craft exhibition that will run until Christmas Eve.

In recent years, it hasn’t just been holiday cheer.

“After COVID, it was just dead,” Lavender said. “There was a ghost town in here.”

In discussions with companies, one topic quickly emerged: resilience.

“We are slowly recovering from two years of COVID,” said Jo Moore, co-owner of Ogres-Holm Pottery.

Jo and Merrill Moore of Ogres-Holm Pottery on November 21st. (Photo by Scott Neuffer)

The pottery shop doubles as a studio and houses 15 to 25 artists, each offering up to five pieces for sale. Moore has been busy with family members preparing for their “Empty Bowls” fundraiser on Dec. 2.

“We work closely with FISH (Friends In Service Helping),” she said, noting that they have raised up to $15,000 for FISH over the past few years. “Carson City is coming back.”

According to survey results collected by the Nevada Small Business Development Center this summer, many small businesses in the Silver State are still struggling with inflation, supply chains and other issues. It takes strength to persevere, to grow evenly.

“I’m not done with the beer game,” said Pat Duncan, a 2004 graduate of Carson High.

In July, after taking a hit with his first beer store during the pandemic, Duncan made the leap to a brick-and-mortar store in the mall. The Beer Studio showcases local beers, including those from Carson-based Shoe Tree Brewing Co.

Duncan remembered visiting the mall as a kid.

“This is my hometown,” he said. “As more and more people find out about this hidden place, they’ll come out of the woodwork.”

He said some Carson residents don’t even know the mall has an indoor space.

“(Beer) is the way to every heart,” he said. “I feel like we have a good line-up now.”

Pat Duncan from The Beer Studio. (Photo by Scott Neuffer)

Adjacent to the Beer Studio is the Wild Horse Gallery, a seller of jewelry, antiques, and collectibles. Owner Jim Castaneda has been running an eponymous store in Virginia City for 25 years. He’s been at the Carson Mall for more than five years.

“We have our own customers, and that’s a good thing,” he said.

He said the store’s jewelry is one-of-a-kind.

“You can’t just order it online,” he said. “Everything I have here is different.”

Blissed Out’s Carranza is also trying to offer something unique. The shop specializes in skateboards and accessories from skater-owned companies. They offer skate shoes made from vegan materials.

“We’re just making sure we keep it by skateboarders for skateboarders,” Carranza said.

The skate shop has already sponsored two young skaters from Mills Park. Carranza said “joyful” describes the euphoria of landing a hard trick.

“When you skateboard, you get rid of your thoughts and you only have feelings,” he said. “We want to pass on the feeling of happiness.”

Hannaman said small businesses — those with fewer than 500 employees — define the capital’s character.

“They give you their passion and their journey,” she said.

Jim Castaneda of the Wild Horse Gallery. (Photo by Scott Neuffer)

Isabella McConnell, for example, co-owns Magical Moments with Lavender. The gift shop was a source of passion for McConnell.

“Everything is handmade by me,” she said, “down to the bows on the tree.”

Due to Lavender’s role as promo director, Magical Moments acts as a point of contact for other businesses in the mall. Lavender listed all of the upcoming holiday events: the Festival of Trees from December 1-20, a tree lighting ceremony on December 4, and story time with Santa Claus on December 4-20. She said it helps everyone get people into the mall.

Carson Home Furnishings is no small part of that. The 20-employee operation has both a main store and an outlet store in the mall, anchoring the north and south sides and attracting customers. Blane Cox owns the business with his wife Melissa. It’s her first business and he said he was scared when they started.

“The first thing people tell you when you start a new business is that only 50 percent of new businesses survive,” he said.

The closures during the pandemic hurt, Cox said, but they’ve been able to thrive because people still needed furniture.

“People were kind of called to their homes,” he explained.

“I don’t even want to remember those days,” Hannaman added, recalling how many small businesses suffered as a result.

Cox, who moved from California to start the company, said he is in escrow for a new home in Carson, an investment in the community.

“Support local and shop local. I live and die at it,” he said.

Blane Cox from Carson Home Furnishings. (Photo by Scott Neuffer)

According to the US Small Business Administration, Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010 and has been sponsored by the SBA since 2011.

“Historically, reported projected spending by U.S. consumers shopping on Small Business Saturday at independent retailers and restaurants reached an estimated $23.3 billion, according to the 2021 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey commissioned by American Express ‘ the SBA website says. “This year, we know small businesses need our support now more than ever as they navigate, adapt and adapt to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.”

According to the Retail Association of Nevada, an estimated 1.7 million Nevadans will shop over the holiday weekend.

“RAN forecasts that Nevada’s consumer retail sales for the holiday shopping season will grow 8 percent this year to reach a record $6.5 billion,” the association said in a Nov. 16 news release.

Shopping from small businesses makes a difference, Hannaman said.

“They preserve the character of the city,” she emphasized.

For information about Carson Mall, visit ShopCarsonMall on Facebook or visit 1313 S. Carson St.


Carson City isn’t the only city looking for a business boost this holiday season. Christmas on the Comstock organizers hope to attract visitors and customers to the business districts of historic Virginia City.

“Coming to Virginia City for the holiday season is a whole experience in itself, and we encourage people to make a day out of it and participate in some of the events and activities that take place throughout the month of December,” said Leah Kruse, Acting Manager of the Virginia City Tourism Commission.

Kruse said the town has a variety of artisans, such as jewelers and milliners.

“All of our businesses here are mom and pop shops and they really depend on the support of the surrounding communities to get them through the slower winter season. Therefore, shopping here is not only fun, but also supports our city and our community at the same time,” said Kruse.

To this end, many events are planned in Virginia City in December. Visit for a complete calendar or call 775-847-7500.

Believe Again – A Christmas Shopping Sweepstakes

1st-18th December

Support small businesses by doing your holiday shopping at Virginia City’s unique boutiques. Stay, eat at a restaurant and win one of 10 gifts worth $100. Visitors can bring receipts to the visitor center and receive a raffle ticket for every $10 spent in town. Ten winners will be selected, each receiving $100 to spend in Virginia City. Shop between December 1st and December 18th. Winners will be announced on December 19th. The visitor center is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Holiday Decorating Contest

2nd-18th December

Visitors can vote for their favorite window displays online at

The Grinch made me do Saloon Crawl

3 December, 11am-5pm

Get excited with special holiday drinks at select locations on the Grinch Made Me Do It Saloon Crawl. Tickets are available at

Parade of Lights

Dec 3 and Dec 10, 5 p.m

The Christmas spirit sweeps through the historic city, illuminating the streets and shops along the way with the annual Lights Parade.

Magical Christmas fireworks

3 and 10 December, 6 p.m

The fireworks take place after the Parade of Lights.

V&T Candy Cane Express and Train O’Lights

25-26 Nov 2-4 Dec 9-11 Dec and 16-18 dec

Trains depart from the Virginia City depot and the narrated round-trip journey takes approximately 40 minutes. Reserve seats in advance

Official Christmas tree lighting

Dec 2, 6 p.m

Virginia City rings in the holiday season with the official Virginia City Christmas Tree Lighting, which takes place in the Bucket of Blood parking lot at the corner of C and Union Streets.

St. Mary’s Art Center 8th Annual Christmas Fair

December 3, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and December 4, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m

St. Mary’s Art Center offers a Christmas shopping experience with over 20 local and regional artists and makers sharing and selling their creations in a decorated, music-filled space. This is the perfect shopping opportunity to give one-of-a-kind gifts while supporting artists and crafters. Free admission.

Home for Christmas concert with Glen and Molly from Lady an the Tramps

Dec 3, 7 p.m

Bring the whole family to this Christmas concert at Piper’s Opera House with Glen and Molly from Lady an the Tramps, featuring special guest appearances from David John and others. The concert is sponsored by the 601s.

Christmas on the Comstock with Lacy J. Dalton

Dec 18, 7 p.m

Lacy J. Dalton and Dale Poune celebrate the holiday season with their annual Red Dog Saloon Christmas Show. Tickets are available at