Couple think big for small businesses |

Couple think big for small businesses

Susan Wood
Provided to the Tahoe Daily Tribune Tristan Cochrane, left, and Colleen Cooper plan to start S.U.B. Culture in South Lake Tahoe. The acronym stands for small unique businesses.

Tristan Cochrane and Colleen Cooper believe they’ve found a subculture in South Tahoe, and they want to nurture it.

They’re hoping to soon launch their S.U.B. Culture concept – which stands for Tahoe’s small and unique businesses – as a marketing cooperative for small businesses that define the South Shore experience.

It was honored last week at the 2004 SMG Lake Tahoe Tourism Conference with the “Big Idea Award.”

For the prior year, the Lake Tahoe Water Trail won as a designated route of shoreline for kayaks and canoes.

Now Cooper, a marketing executive, and Cochrane, a graphic designer, intend to fine-tune a proposal for a membership cooperative as their next step. No timeline has been set.

“It’s the Tahoe I moved to 19 years ago,” Cochrane said, adding he was motivated by watching his friends’ businesses work harder to compete with the chains.

With redevelopment, major chain stores have shown an interest in building on both sides of Park Avenue. The changing face of town near Stateline has stirred debate from longtime locals over the prospect of cannibalizing business among similar companies and altering the uniqueness of their mountain town.

“There’s a tendency for these small, unique businesses to get lost in the shuffle. They’re not able to compete for ad dollars, and they’re competing for the (re)development areas. It’s almost cost prohibitive for some smaller businesses,” she said.

They cited Savvy, Sidestreet Boutique, Blue Angel Cafe, Red Hut and Alpen Sierra as enterprises that set the style of Tahoe.

“When people come to Tahoe, they enjoy what’s unique here. We want to give them something different. Do you want to go to Aspen and eat out at McDonald’s?” she asked. “We don’t want to see a loss of some things that define Tahoe.”

Like Cochrane, her eight years at Tahoe have culminated in a sincere interest in seeing the area prosper.

“Generating more business for us was never the goal,” she said.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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