Over the past few years, I’ve interviewed more than two dozen people who grew up along the Mendocino Coast and couldn’t wait to move away, believing they’d never return. But return they did, to establish businesses or professional careers. Some also chose this place to raise children, to nurture them in the small town values that shaped their own childhoods.
These are a new wave of pioneers who, like their forebearers, use intelligence and imagination to forge a vibrant path. In exchange for the privilege of being able to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, they work long, hard hours.
The shelter in place orders due to Covid-19 have knocked many down, but they are devising ways to get back up and resume their vision of what it means to live here.
They have open minds and are digging deep to find solutions.
They have entrepreneurial spirits that will spawn innovations to move them forward. They are truly the new pioneers of the Mendocino Coast.
We are so fortunate to have them here—especially during this trying time.
Megan returned to the Mendocino Coast four years ago for many of the same reasons other young pioneers come back—weary of city living, wanting to raise children where they’d been raised, and hoping to use their energies to revitalize our community. Soon after her arrival, she opened the vintage shop Lost Coast Found in the Larry Spring building on Redwood Avenue. https://ithappenedatpurity.com/2017/10/02/megan-caron/
Unlike other shop owners, Megan says she wasn’t fazed by the shelter in place order.
“It seems like everyday something shocking takes place. The current administration has forced many of us to become desensitized. When I think about what’s happening to this planet—children in cages, criminals in the White House—a pandemic just kind of seems like icing on the cake.”
Similar to other retailers, Megan considers the ramifications of future shelter in place orders and is considering the addition of an online store. “My brick and mortar will always be a priority because creating space and human interaction is what I enjoy. I have never really shopped online—except for that one time, but I was doing research on Scandinavian linens.” She laughs. “I find online shopping dull and unfulfilling. During these tumultuous times, I have confidence in the secondary market. I believe people are catching onto the idea of conscious consumerism, but as with every change in behavior, it takes time.”
Megan is grateful to Anne Maureen McKeating, the owner of the Larry Spring building. “She isn’t charging rent as long as I am unable to open. I wish more landlords were so kind. I am worried about our downtown community and hope landlords realize there is more value in keeping a current tenant than waiting a year for a new one to come along.”
Lost Coast Found reopened on June 12 and Megan has to limit customers to one or two people at a time. “The shop is too small to fit more than that. I want people to have a relaxing experience. I don’t want them to worry if they’re six feet away from someone.”
Given the number of employers who are allowing employees to telecommute, Megan believes Fort Bragg is more attractive to outsiders than ever before. “I guarantee we’ll make it on ‘The Top 10 Small Towns In Which To Survive A Pandemic’ list. Over the last three years, a constant stream of tourists have come into my shop and asked, ‘So what’s it like to live here?’ I say it’s a great place if you can afford to buy a house. It can be impossible to find a rental unless you have a local connection. I tell them about our need for working professionals, trades people, entrepreneurs, and community volunteers.
“Like it or not, an influx of people will move here. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Buying up housing for vacation rentals is what has devastated coastal communities. Building new homes will help our economy.
“When people move here, they bring money and this town desperately needs money. Fort Bragg has struggled to financially maintain its downtown and the current crisis will only make that more difficult.”
Megan finds hope for the future of our community in people like her customer Joanne. “She lives in Fremont and is selling her home. She’s dreamed of having a tea room and Fort Bragg seems the right place. Joanne has the capital to buy one of the downtown dilapidated commercial buildings and will make it beautiful again.”
Lost Coast Found is open 11:30-5:00 Wednesdays through Saturdays.