Longtime clothing company opens store in Bellingham

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDNovember 2, 2013 

A longtime local clothing company known for being at festivals and having an online presence has opened its first brick-and-mortar store.

Jeff Kraus and Amy Martin opened Naked Clothing at 126 W. Holly St. on Thursday, Oct. 31, in the former Merch Bot space in downtown Bellingham. The store offers shirts, pants and dresses made from a variety of sustainable fibers, including organic cotton, hemp and bamboo. Much of the clothing is geared toward women, but the store also has items for men and children.

Kraus began his career as a print screener, putting artwork on shirts back in 1994. In 1998 he founded Naked Clothing, He sold his clothing up and down the West Coast at festivals and other events. He would eventually have his product in a variety of stores and have a website, nakedclothing.com.

Kraus and Martin thought now might be a good time to have their own store, so they started doing some research and had a "test" store this summer near Boundary Bay Brewing. The test for them was whether people would ask if they had a permanent location.

"By the end of the summer, we had a lot of people asking us if we had a permanent store," Martin said.

When talking about bamboo, one might think of its use as a wood product, but Kraus said the fiber itself is a very silky, breathable fabric. It can be washed normally. It's a sustainable product because bamboo is a fast-growing plant, allowing farmers to make more efficient use of the land, Kraus said.

Kraus and Martin are finalizing hours but have tentatively scheduled the store to be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. They also plan on a grand opening celebration Friday, Nov. 29. For further details, visit the company's Facebook page or call 360-746-9166.

GEARING UP FOR HOLIDAY SHOPPING

According to ShopperTrak, a shopper analytic company, four of the 10 busiest holiday shopping days nationally this year will be between Dec. 20 and Dec. 24. The busiest will be Nov. 29 (Black Friday). It also estimates stores will see slightly more traffic on Small Business Saturday (Nov. 30).

It's going to be a different holiday season for shoppers this year. Not only are a bunch of stores (including Macy's, Kohl's, and JC Penney) planning for 8 p.m. openings on Thanksgiving Day, four hours before Black Friday, but the season will be shorter this year because Thanksgiving falls so late on the calendar.

Whatcom County retailers will have four weekends to capture holiday shoppers. It'll be interesting to see if shoppers get started early in the season or wait until those final four days.

OTHER TIDBITS

- Last week StrEAT Food signed a lease to take over the former Halibut Henry's space at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. During the month of December it will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. Owner James Pitzer said the StrEAT Food trailer will continue to be at its regular spots during those times. At the cruise terminal, Pitzer said they plan to offer a menu similar to the trailer menu but will be adding breakfast and a few other items. Halibut Henry's has continued its expansion at the Bellingham International Airport, recently opening its permanent space in the secured gate area.

- The Oyster Bar at Bayou, which is moving into the Herald Building next spring, will change its name to Rock and Rye Oyster House. Bayou on Bay will remain at 1300 Bay St. after the Oyster Bar at Bayou moves.

- Goodwill has received city permit approval to convert the former 15,929-square-foot Sunset Square movie theater space into a variety of new uses, including storage, classrooms, offices and a loading area. According to the permit, Goodwill's current retail area will expand once the storage/office areas move into the new space.

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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