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Last Update: Sunday June 25, 2017

Catalina Island

Sunny Catalina Is Waiting For...

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Avalon, Catalina Island, California: We've been all over the world with our cameras to find out why small businesses are successful. We've meet the nicest people doing the darndest things. Let us stop for a minute to think about how unusual it is that people make a living driving boats, renting bikes, selling gift items, riding horses, and tucking you in for the night.

To get out to this island, we first meet Greg Bombard, the owner/founder of the Catalina Express. Greg's high-speed catamaran, the Starship Express (it just transports 300 of your closest friends!) leaves from San Pedro (Long Beach).  Besides Greg's fleet, there are plenty of people who arrive by private boats, helicopters and airplanes.

Though 22 miles out in the sea, this island is well connected to the mainland.

The ride out was a great experience and coming into the Avalon Harbor is magnificent. People enjoy coming here because it is one of the most beautiful spots in the world which assuredly is one of the key reasons for the success of the small business owners whom we meet.

Catalina has a population of 3217 and Avalon is the only town on the island. And, small business is all there is on Catalina Island. With over 14 million people in the greater Los Angeles area, this is a quiet little paradise to escape that hustle-bustle and the great big freeways.

Our first stop on the island is Brown's Bikes; it is the first you'll see upon disembarking from Greg's boat. Gary Brown, who passed away since this interview, was the island's premier ambassador and a person of profound goodwill. He speaks great affection about his cherished town.

The adventuresome who really want to see the entire island will find The Stables and rent a horse from Bunny Putnam. She has some of the gentlest animals you'll ever meet to explore the outer parts of this island, places where even the mountain bikes have a hard time going.

In 1920, just a year after buying the island, William Wrigley, built a "cottage" for his wife, Ada; it overlooks Avalon Bay. Today it is The Inn on Mount Ada. Though the property and building are owned by the University of Southern California, the actual inn, operating under a master lease, is owned and operated by Marlene McAdam and Susie Griffin.

Even though all the businesses we visited on Catalina Island are different, they are all clearly in the same business -- the business of pleasing people. When you make people happy, they come back; and over time, you will build a business.

Go to all the Key Ideas and Videos from this episode...

It seems personal.  It is fun.  It surprises.  It informs.  Though sometimes called "infotainment"  (by a somewhat mechanical wordsmith  -- there has to be a better word), it is a business category.

Many of our business owners, especially those in retail, are beginning to see  the light.  They are having special events for their best customers right in their store.  They are teaching and reaching their customers in very  new ways. 


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