Whatcom business openings well ahead of closings so far in 2013



Ron and Bev Galley check out the prices at the new WinCo Foods store Thursday morning, Aug. 15, 2013, in the former Joe's Sporting Goods building at 300 E. Bellis Fair Parkway in Bellingham. The Galleys said they liked the fact the store is open 24-hours.


It continues to be a growth year when it comes to storefronts opening in Whatcom County.

Through the end of the third quarter of this year I've counted 92 brick-and-mortar storefront openings, just slightly off the pace of last year's total of 131. That's quite a jump from during the middle of the economic downturn: In 2010, for example, I counted 55 openings for the entire year.

There is no official tally of business openings and closings in Whatcom County; this count is based on what I've seen as well as announcement through press releases, reader tips or on social media.

In the first half of 2013, many of the openings were family-owned restaurants/cafes. The third quarter featured a few bigger company openings, including WinCo, Sports Authority and Semiahmoo Resort.

The pace of store openings usually slows down in the final three months of the year; retail businesses in particular want to be open well before the start of the holiday shopping season. A couple of big stores are on tap to open in the fourth quarter, including Sears Hometown Store on Meridian Street.

Through the first nine months of the year, I've counted 36 business closures, which is on pace to be the lowest annual total since 2007. The peak year in Whatcom County closures came in 2009, with 89. The dynamic locally is now much different than a few years ago, when the business opening/closing numbers were about even.


The owners of a Ferndale brewery are getting close to opening a brew pub in downtown Bellingham.

Owners Benjamin Buccarelli, Brandon Petersen and Tom Raden plan to have The Local open by the middle of this month at 1427 Railroad Ave., in the former Cicchitti's Pizza space. The owners also operate Menace Brewing in Ferndale and will serve Menace as well as other regional beers. Petersen, a local chef who worked for four years at The Fork at Agate Bay, will handle the menu, which will focus on small plates and rotate along with the beers.

"The idea is that every dish will have a recommended beer pairing," Petersen said in a news release. "So when the beers change, so will the food."

The inside of the pub will have plenty of natural wood, giving it a modern rustic look, according to owners. The bar, built by local craftsman Ross Thiessen, is made from old flooring joists from the Mt. Baker Harley Davidson space on North State Street. That North State Street space is now home to Vital Climbing Gym.

The beer list will start with 14 taps and expand to 22.

"Our goal is to become a hub for a growing local beer culture," Buccarelli said. "There are a lot of great things going on here, beer-wise, and we want to highlight that."

Once open, the plan is to serve lunch and dinner, as well as be open into the late evening.

For updates on The Local's opening date, or for further information, check out the Menace Brewing Facebook page.


Last week Terry Lehmann officially retired, closing Lehmann's Appliance after 84 years in business. On Tuesday, Oct. 1, Judd & Black took over operations at 2001 James St., near Hardware Sales, and the first few days of business went smoothly, said Rachael Sylte, spokeswoman for Judd & Black.

"We're still getting in some of our own product, but so far we've been well received by the community," Sylte said.

Judd & Black has 22 appliance brands and plans to add a barbecue product line to the Bellingham store. The company also plans a bit of remodeling to create a more open layout on the showroom floor.

The company is family owned, starting in Snohomish County 73 years ago. Sylte said Judd & Black has been able to last this long against competitive big-box stores because it focuses on customer service.

"We're grateful to Lehmann's for this opportunity to enter the Bellingham market (by taking over the store)," she said.

The store is open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For further details, visit juddblack.com.


Haggen is continuing its 80th anniversary specials this week, offering 80-cent prices on a variety of products, doing giveaways, hosting a food drive and having employees dress up in 1930s-era attire. Birthday cake will be served at stores on Saturday, Oct. 12. The company was started by Ben and Dorothy Haggen on Bay Street in Bellingham in 1933.

Discovery Music Academy, which teaches piano to children and adults, now has a studio space inside Piper Music at 2512 Meridian St., in the Fountain District. While the academy's director Mary Walby has rented space from Piper Music in the past, the academy now has a studio space just for the piano lessons, according to a news release. The space will allow Walby to expand her hours of operation. Studio hours are by appointment. For details, visit discoverymusicacademy.com or call Walby at 360-527-9626.

Better Than New, a clothing store at 405 E. Holly St., is having a closing sale. Co-owner Sirpa Halmekangas said they will be out of that space by the end of October.

Retail Tip Sheet runs each Sunday.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Business Blog at bellinghamherald.com/business-blog or follow him on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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