Consignment shopping continues to expand in Whatcom County, and Sage Bishop's business is growing along with it.
Bishop owns Labels Women's Consignment stores on Ellis Street and on Northwest Avenue. The company recently purchased the former Al's Honda property at 2336 James St. and Bishop plans to move the Ellis Street store into the 5,000-square-foot James Street building, which is just south of Trader Joe's. She expects to be in the James Street location this spring.
Bishop said the larger building allows her to add home décor and housewares, much like they did when they opened the Northwest Avenue store in February. Both stores also carry women's clothing.
"We found that we had customers coming (to the Northwest Avenue store) just for the home décor and houseware products, so we wanted to find a way to add it (to the other store)," Bishop said.
Earlier this month, the company hit a significant milestone: It signed up its 25,000 consigner.
"That is something I've really been looking forward to," said Bishop, who started Labels in 2004. "Recently we've had a lot of Canadians (sign up as consigners), which is cool because they have different stores up there, which adds to the variety of clothes."
Consignment stores are sometimes thought of as a place where customers can stretch a budget, but Bishop said there's more to it.
"Bellingham really gets it when it comes to consignment," she said, noting that it's not just her consignment store that has been growing, but the industry itself. "There's the recycling, the thrill of the treasure hunt and finding something different. We're not so cookie-cutter in Bellingham."
Perhaps her biggest risk to date was building a new building on Northwest Avenue. She worried that not enough people would go to the new store; it turns out parking has been the bigger issue in the first 10 months.
While she's looking forward to having a bigger store in central Bellingham, she recognizes that some customers might miss the unusual floor layout at Ellis Street, which is more like a house with walls that create private rooms throughout.
"We're going to try our best to simulate the feel of the Ellis building on James Street," said Bishop, maybe by adding walls and lowering the ceiling.
A grand opening for the James Street location will be announced in early 2013. For more information, call 360-676-1210 or visit labelsconsignment.com or the store's Facebook page.
SOY HOUSE TO TAKE OVER BOSS TWEED SPACE
Tony Nguyen, who owns Soy House, a Vietnamese restaurant at Bakerview Square, plans to open a second restaurant in the former Boss Tweed building.
Nguyen has applied for building permits to makes tenant improvements to the building at 400 W. Holly St. His sister, Tam Bratt, said they plan to open the downtown location in late spring or early summer.
Bratt said a couple of factors weighed into the decision: Many regular customers were asking for a second spot in a more central location. Also, Nguyen was impressed with the property.
"Tony wanted a restaurant with a view," said Bratt, adding that being able to see Bellingham Bay fits that requirement. "We're planning to have outdoor seating to take advantage of it."
The downtown building is about four times the space they have at Bakerview Square. They plan to offer a similar menu, but with plenty more seating and parking.
Soy House will provide updates on an opening date online at soyhouserestaurant.com as well as on its Facebook page.
LYNDEN MUSIC BUSINESS MOVING OUT OF THE AREA
Becky and Dwayne Cole are closing Cole Productions in Lynden and moving it to South Dakota.
The company focuses on providing music lessons to about 70 Whatcom County students. The last day for the company in Lynden is Friday, Dec. 21. It is selling a variety of equipment, including drum sets, office furniture and a piano.
"We want to thank the customers we've worked with over the years, we've had a good relationship with the community," said Becky Cole, who opened the business with Dwayne in 2007.
The store is at 102 Grover St., Suite 209. For people interesting purchasing equipment, call 360-306-8013 between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. weekdays. More details about the company are at colepros.com.
CUSTOM CLOSETS ON THE MOVE
Custom Closets & Bedrooms, currently at 4073 Hannegan Road, is moving into a new nearby space. On Wednesday, Jan. 2, the plan is to be in the Walkers Carpet One Floor & Home facility at 2425 E. Bakerview Road. Owner Mike Buchholz said the move is a good fit for his business, which has similar clients. The Walkers building has about 8,500 square feet of space and Custom Closets will be in the northeast corner.
"One advantage is that by combining the businesses into one building, this will become more of a one-stop shop for customers," Buchholz said.
Buchholz started the business 22 years ago in Laurel, then moved to Hannegan Square 17 years ago. It focuses on closet organizers, home offices, Murphy wall beds and garage cabinetry. For more information, call 360-738-9121 or visit closetsandbedrooms.com.
BevMo had its liquor license approved to go into 114 W. Stuart Road, near United Furniture. The liquor retailer plans to open in February.
Also going through the state liquor license process is Jack Niemann, who is working to reopen CJ's Beach House at 7878 Birch Bay Drive. Niemann plans to open the restaurant in early 2013.
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.