It's unusual to have a business start online and then expand into a brick-and-mortar store, but that's what's happening in downtown Bellingham.
Modern Classics opened a showroom at 1418 N. State St. earlier this month. Along with carrying a selection of iconic modern furniture reproductions, it will showcase the paintings of Bellingham artist Sharon Kingston.
Modern Classics, founded by Curt Roth in 2006, has a variety of furniture that would remind many of the pieces seen on the television show "Mad Men." The clean lines that distinguish modern design are gaining popularity for offices and homes, Kingston said.
The 2,500-square-foot space also will be home to Kingston's studio. She creates large-scale abstract oil paintings.
Along with serving as a showroom and studio, it makes for a good space to take photos for the website, as well as be a place people can get a closer look at the furniture before placing an online order, Kingston said. People will come in from out of town to see the furniture, and she is already getting visits from local residents.
"We've already had a lot of people say they are happy to see us here," Kingston said. "I think people really want to see these kinds of stores."
Since opening earlier this month, Modern Classics is already seeing two groups of people - those who come in to see Kingston's art and those who come for the furniture. Fortunately, both seem to go well together for the showroom, Kingston said.
The showroom is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For details, call 360-393-3826.
Retail openings and closings are up to start the year.
Through the end of March, I've counted 36 retail store openings and 22 closings in Whatcom County. The number of openings is 11 more than the first quarter of 2013, which was a strong year for retail openings.
The number of closings for the first three months of the year is nine more than the same period in 2013.
Looking over this year's first-quarter closings, I noticed several of these spaces vacated by the closing business were quickly filled. An example is the Big 5 sporting goods store, which closed its Bellis Fair spot, keeping open its second location near Walmart. The Bellis Fair space is being filled by the clothing retailer H&M.
With no official statistics that I can find on Whatcom County business openings and closings, I rely on what I spot, news releases and tips from readers.
-- Hammerhead Coffee Roasters is currently doing a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to move the business into a bigger space in the Sunnyland neighborhood. It is currently at Greene's Corner on Northwest Avenue, which is a good spot, but the company needs more room, said co-owner Mary Burwell. If the campaign is successful, the plan is to move into a space with Maniac Roasting.
-- The Lakeway Liquor Store at the Lakeway Center recently closed. The former state-run store was one of the first to open after the privatization rules went into effect in Bellingham in July 2012.
-- Sparkle Dry Cleaners has closed its store at the Bakerview Fred Meyer retail center.
-- A building permit application was filed to put the Wool Station into 1118 Finnegan Way, which is near the current location at 1103 11th St.
-- A building permit application was filed to put in a new AT&T store at 102 Samish Way.
-- Redden Marine, which has a store on Bellingham's waterfront, is opening a 37,000-square-foot sales and distribution warehouse in Seattle. It will have 7,000 square feet of space for retail and will be at 1080 West Ewing St., in the Lake Washington ship canal area. A grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, April 26.