I just read a somewhat compelling article about Californians leaving the state in favor of more affordable locations. Texas was the focus of this article, but Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Nevada were also mentioned as popular landing spots for Californians on the run.

It’s not only people that are leaving, businesses are packing up everything and tossing it in the U-Haul and giving a good riddance to the Golden State as well. If you believe this is only a big city occurrence in expensive urban areas of the Bay Area, like Silicon Valley, think again. This past week we were informed that Kmart in Lakeport will be closing their doors by mid-December of this year. Can you be both shocked and not surprised at the same time?

Just a few months back, I had a wonderful upbeat conversation with the new General Manager of the Lakeport store. She seemed a bubbly and confident woman who had a plan to turn things around and resurrect our local Kmart from the ashes of mediocrity.

Kmart had just joined the Lake County Chamber of Commerce; our brief but energetic conversation lead to an offer of potential Chamber sponsorships from Kmart, including their participation in last month’s National Night Out event. I was certain this dynamic woman could accomplish the task before her. Now, just like a Duane Kuiper home run call, “They’re outta here!”.

Finding employment to replace the 80 plus lost jobs will be a tall task. Let’s hope that the folks at Kmart will do what they can, as well as, the various government entities around the lake but 80 jobs don’t just pop up overnight. I have already heard some talk of organizing a job fair and I know the Lake County Chamber of Commerce will do everything they can to assist in any organized effort.

Despite what is happening around us, California is still a pretty awesome place to live and most of us are not fond of the idea of a Texas address. But who are we kidding, the future doesn’t look rosy for business in the Golden State. California has seemed to put itself into an over regulated mess and if Sacramento doesn’t do something there will be a large sign on Interstate 80 in Truckee, suggesting the last one out turn off the lights.

Let’s return to the task at hand and focus on our own county. There are possible opportunities for local merchants to seize upon the void left by the Kmart closure. The City of Lakeport, in conjunction with the Retail Coach Consultant Group, has scheduled an Open House on September 11th & 12th at Lakeport City Hall. Representatives will be there to discuss the results of a recently conducted assessment of Lakeport’s Retail Trade Area. I urge local retailers and those interested in exploring possible opportunities to attend this 2 day event which will run from 3:30pm to 5:30pm.

As for hitching up the U-Haul and riding off into the sunset, let’s not forget what we do have here that is worth fighting for. It’s up to us to right the ship, help each other and, as they say in Texas, “Git R Done”!


Joe Casteel

2019 President, Lake County Chamber of Commerce
Owner, North Bay Merchant Services

Joe Casteel is a 20 year veteran of the Electronic Payment industry and moved his business to Lake County in 2006. A proud member of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce and current President, Joe and his wife Jacie have called Lake County their home since 2001.