With spring nearly here it's time for the steady stream of new retail business openings. Whatcom County is already off to a strong start.
This is strategically a good time of year to make preparations for opening a new business; old leases have expired and the post-holiday shopping season exodus is complete. Many new businesses spend the first quarter remodeling or moving in to take advantage of the increased retail sales activity in the spring and summer.
Three major new tenants at Bellis Fair already have been announced: clothing retailer H&M and the restaurants Chipotle and Buffalo Wild Wings, all of which are expected to open later this year.
Plans also appear to be in the works for Burlington Coat Factory to move into the former Meridian Cost Cutter space, just down the street from the mall.
Other retail activity is happening all around Whatcom County:
-- At Bakerview Square, the furniture and home consignment store Fair Trade opened its 4,500-square-foot store at the end of February and will be expanding by another 3,000 square feet April 1, said Randy Sears, manager of RPM property management, which owns the business.
Sears said the focus of the business is selling consigned furniture and household items.
"It's like a Craigslist showroom," he said, adding that the company has a pick-up and delivery service.
-- A new gun shop has opened just north of Bellingham. Dakota Creek & Outfitting opened earlier this month at Pacific Commerce Center, near Wilson's Furniture on Pacific Highway. The store is operated by Jeff Gunter and Mike Sytsma, who both have experience working at local outdoor shops. Store hours are 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Gunter said they saw an opportunity for a store that focuses on hunting. Along with guns, they plan to have hunting accessories such as decoys and scopes. They also will have regular seminars about hunting, such as duck calling, and be a place where people can book hunting trips. This fall, they plan to have a selection of archery products.
The 3,800-square-foot store has more inventory coming in and will begin accepting trade-ins and consignment in April. For details, visit the company's Facebook page or call 360-380-4868.
-- Last week, DragonFrog Gallery, Gifts & Floral opened in its new spot in the Barkley Village retail center, near Jalapenos Mexican Restaurant. The gift shop had originally been on Hannegan Road.
Owner Deb James said the move has already resulted in increased foot traffic. Along with the move, the store has added a full-service floral corner that includes delivery. They also have added new local artists to go along with the store's regular group.
Hours have been expanded: The store is now open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. For details, call 360-739-5314 or visit its Facebook page.
-- At Birch Bay Square, a new antique store, Mei Jia, is scheduled to open later this year, along with a new Subway sandwich shop.
-- Bellingham's Scotty Browns restaurant plans to reopen Thursday, March 13. The restaurant has been closed since Jan. 18 for a major remodel.
-- The Bakerview Fred Meyer submitted permits to set up a temporary pharmacy location while it continues its storewide remodel.
-- Caffe Capanna, at 1345 Gulf Road in Point Roberts, had its liquor license discontinued last week. According to a recent article in the Point Roberts newspaper, All Point Bulletin, Caffe Capanna was closed this winter before being taken over by Ron and Linda Hughes, who plan to reopen the café this spring as a coffee shop.