Owner Channels Top Vibes Running Positively Fourth Street in Downtown Santa Rosa
You don’t have to believe in metaphysics to vibrate with the special energy emanating from Positively Fourth Street.
Maybe it’s the crystals and gemstones for sale in the downtown Santa Rosa shop – sacred rocks that many say have magical, healing and restorative powers. Perhaps it’s the array of handmade scarves and other knick-knacks from artists and artisans from across the Bay Area. It could be the wall of silly dress socks, like the ones with taco cats or the image of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Owner Randy Harris is also charismatic. He and his gray ponytail have been running the place for 28 years.
Whatever the source of energy, whatever the reason for the attraction, it’s nearly impossible to walk into the eclectic, new-age shop next to Mac’s Deli and Cafe and not find something arousing. your interest, increases your curiosity and attracts you.
“I sell to people over 70, under 7, and everyone in between,” Harris said. “Something for everyone, it’s all unlike anything you’ve seen before.”
From San Francisco to Santa Rosa
Positively Fourth Street is one of the oldest businesses downtown. It opened in 1994. In the preceding months, Harris ran two other stores in the Bay Area – one in Berkeley and another in San Francisco. When the lease for the San Francisco store expired, he decided to launch a new operation in Santa Rosa.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Harris chose Santa Rosa because he knew Sonoma County customers would be “receptive” to the items he liked to sell. Beyond that, he really didn’t know the market. He had a few distant relatives who owned properties in Sebastopol and Guerneville, but that was it.
“At the time, I didn’t know much about Santa Rosa except that the people seemed nice and it felt like a place that would encompass my store,” he said. “It turned out to be a great decision.”
Harris and his wife Melissa moved north the following year and have made Santa Rosa their home ever since.
People always ask Harris for the name of the store, and he said he chose the name by “trying to think of something positive that also had the address in it.” He acknowledged that he was inspired by Bob Dylan’s song of the same name, but noted that the song wasn’t exactly positive – it was bittersweet and derisive.
“My other stores were called Marketplace on Haight Street and Dragonstar Design, so my names have been everywhere,” he joked.
At first, Harris did his best to stock the Santa Rosa store with “interesting items” from artisans he knew from all over the area, especially Berkeley and North Bay. Little by little, he built up a network of artists on consignment. Depending on the time of year, more than half of the store’s inventory may be made by local artisans and artists from the area.
Each month, these artists drop off new material and collect payment for the objects they dropped off the previous month.
“We’re really trying to make it a locals store,” he said. “There are a lot of creative people here.”
Unique trinkets for everyone
Considering the volume of goods Harris carries, it’s quite an achievement to offer so much local craftsmanship.
The 69-year-old Central Valley native estimates he has over 1,000 items in the store at any one time, including handcrafted rings, incense, silk scarves, printed cards by hand and those silly socks. There is an extensive collection of crystals and rocks, as well as incense, weed bags, t-shirts and even Himalayan salt lamps. Sometimes it feels like the store is almost overflowing with different items.
Crystals account for approximately 30% of sales. Smoky Quartz, Aquamarine, Amethyst – you name the crystal, they probably sell it at Positively Fourth Street.
He noted that two of the most popular items are crystal pendants wrapped in wire by Santa Rosa artist Leo Gonzalez and bracelets made of beads that resemble evil eyes, believed to ward off evil spirits.
Another popular item: the enamel-glazed copper switch plate covers, by Berkeley artist Ray Storch.
Storch and Harris go back a long way – the two have known each other for 40 years and became friends when they were both part of a group of artisans selling wares on Telegraph Avenue in the 1980s.
Storch said he thinks no salesperson has worn his work longer than Harris, and added he’s “proud” to sell his pieces at Positively Fourth Street because the shop has an appeal to the old fashioned way that makes customers happy with the things they buy.
“(Harris) has a great eye for new work,” Storch said. “Randy himself is one of the things that makes the store special because he talks to people, makes suggestions and helps them make decisions.”
Customers have also applauded the feeling they get when shopping at Positively Fourth Street.
Santa Rosa resident and owner of Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga, Jennifer More, said she frequents the shop when looking for crystals to give to friends in need.
“The staff is so kind, they helped me find the best stones to cure different cancers and they gave great recommendations,” she said. “I love that it’s kind of a new-age store with down-to-earth staff. They go out of their way to help me find the perfect gift every time I go.
Continue to serve customers
Harris balked upon hearing those comments, saying he and his team of four work hard to make every customer feel welcome.
He added that since the store has been open for 28 years and suffered a three-month closure during the COVID-19 pandemic, he is confident that Positively Fourth Street will continue to thrive and live well beyond its 30th anniversary. in the future.
“We’ve been here a while, we survived COVID, we’re not going anywhere anytime soon,” he joked.
Harris doesn’t have any major or earth-shattering plans for the future of the store — he’s just doing more of what he’s always done. Positively Fourth Street recently replaced an old-fashioned cash register with the Square computerized payment system, and Harris joked that was more than enough change for a period of time.
In the meantime, Harris promises to continue working with local artists and said he will continue to source items from the Las Vegas International Gift Show each year. He’s also committed to the same friendly customer service that has made him so popular with Santa Rosa shoppers over the years.
At some point, he said, he might consider retiring, in which case he would spend more time playing guitar and hand the store over to someone else.
“This place has established itself over the years – good people who appreciate good craftsmanship and a variety of choices,” he said. “I intend to serve these customers for as long as possible.”