It remains a good time for Whatcom County consumers who enjoy checking out new businesses.
Since the beginning of the year I've counted 78 Whatcom County storefront businesses that have either opened or plan on being open in the coming weeks. That total is already ahead of all of 2010 and is quickly closing in on 2011, which had 114 storefront openings.
The 78 business openings are more than twice the number of closures (37) I've spotted so far in 2012. It's a similar trend to 2011 but different from other recent recession years, when storefront openings and closings were about even.
So far in 2012, restaurants/cafes and clothing stores continue to be the most popular type of openings. While there are franchises coming into this area, most of the start-ups are small, family-owned companies.
The uptick in business start-ups also is having an impact on building permits. Last month the city of Bellingham issued permits on projects valued at $44.6 million, the highest monthly total since December 2009. A big part of that was for a permit issued for Marriott's Springhill Suites, a $12.3 million project at 4040 Northwest Ave., near the West Bakerview Road intersection. Along with that big project, the city issued permits for $5.8 million in business remodeling, the highest monthly total in that category in a year.
Through July, Bellingham permits were issued for projects totaling $109.6 million, which is already more than the entire year of 2011 ($100.4 million) and 2009 ($104 million).
The basics of supply and demand also appear to be a factor. For the past several quarters, retail sales at Whatcom County stores have risen higher than the state average. Given the continued increase in Canadian traffic into summer, retailers will continue to find ways to carve more niches in this market.
A Bellingham building permit was issued to convert a former office into a Subway sandwich shop at 101 Samish Way.
A tenant improvement permit was filed for a new health club/dining tenant at 4184 Cordata Parkway, in the former Avenue Pita space near DQ.
A tenant improvement permit was filed for a space at 402 36th St., for a new Domino's pizza restaurant.
Find Your Fashion in Ferndale is gearing up for its two-year anniversary with a weeklong celebration. During the week of Aug. 13, the clothing store will have a variety of special events, including a Meet Your Local Artist Day on Monday, Aug. 13, and demonstrations by other local businesses during the week. To get details, call the store at 360-393-3190.
Diehl Ford is partnering with Sehome High School on an interesting fundraising idea. Called Drive One 4UR School, Diehl Ford will have cars available at the Sehome High School student parking lot for test drives on Saturday, Aug. 25. For every test drive given between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., Diehl Ford will donate $20 to the Sehome High School football team. The goal is to offer 300 test drives, raising $6,000 for the program. The test drives are limited to one per household.
Retail Tip Sheet runs each Sunday.
Reach DAVE GALLAGHER at email@example.com or call 715-2269. Visit his business blog online at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/business or get updates on Twitter at twitter.com/BhamHeraldBiz.