Business

Retail Tipsheet: Bellingham business provides personal touch in fight against breast cancer

Battling breast cancer is difficult enough, so two women have started a business to make post-surgery a little less traumatic.

Laura DeWitt and Sarah McCown recently opened Allies at 1337 Lincoln St., Suite 3. The Bellingham store is a specialty boutique that focuses on services and products for women after a mastectomy.

McCown is a certified fitter who will spend time with the customer getting exact measurements in a private setting. The store has hundreds of prosthesis options available, including breast forms, chest walls and undergarments. They also can order more for the perfect fit.

“It is not rushed; the goal is to make someone feel as whole as possible,” McCown said.

Becoming a certified fitter is also not rushed; 500 hours of training is required, according to the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics.

DeWitt became interested in opening the Bellingham store after her own experience. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and had a bilateral mastectomy.

At the time, the nearest place for her to get a fitting was in downtown Seattle, making it an inconvenient experience. In doing research about opening the business, she met McCown. For both, the goal was to create a store that has the look and feel of a clothing boutique rather than a medical facility. They also want to make it as convenient as possible because the client has already gone through so much, McCown said.

“They are some of the strongest women I’ve ever seen,” McCown said, adding that she appreciates the bonds she is able to make with customers.

One of the challenges for the business is letting people know the service is available. The two have made connections with the regional hospitals but also want to reach out to women who are finished with treatment.

DeWitt said the silicon in a prosthesis eventually breaks down and body shapes change, so it’s important to be fitted regularly. In many instances, the cost of the products are reimbursable through insurance.

The store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and by appointment the rest of the week to ensure privacy. For details, call 360-676-7363.

KOMBUCHA TOWN EXPANDS WITH NEW BELLINGHAM FACILITY

kombucha Town recently completed a significant expansion in the Herald Building.

The kombucha brewery now has a 3,500-square-foot facility in the basement of the Herald Building, 1155 N. State St. According to a company news release, kombucha Town is increasing its distribution area locally and into the Seattle area. Eventually, the company wants to expand its distribution into a five-state area.

The expansion includes a 500-gallon commercial brew kettle, several conditioning tanks, and more fermentation equipment. With the additions, kombucha Town can now produce 10 times more kombucha tea at full capacity.

kombucha Town features two alcoholic drinks in bottles, called Signature and Gold. It also makes four non-alcoholic drinks in cans: Gold Light, Green Jasmine, Guayusa Loco, and Blueberry White.

The company’s tasting room is also in the Herald Building, in suite 603. Tasting room hours are 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays. For more details, visit kombuchatown.com.

BLACK MARKET BOUTIQUE GOES UNDERGROUND

After dealing with an unexpected plumbing problem that forced the closure of the store, Black Market Boutique has decided to re-invent itself.

The vintage clothing store was at 2010 N. State for five years before an overflowing toilet in an upstairs apartment flooded the downstairs store on Jan. 20, according to the store blog post. The store has remained closed, and owner Colleen Harper decided to move on while the building owner fixed the problem.

Harper plans to hold a garage sale March 28-29 at her new warehouse in Sunset Pond Business Park, selling fixtures and other retail items. She also plans to hold several other themed shopping events in the spring and summer around Bellingham.

“I’ve always been good at change,” Harper said in her blog post. “I feel really positive about what the future holds, and downright excited about what a truly ‘underground’ Black Market Boutique will look like.”

For updates on Black Market Boutique, visit the store’s Facebook page.

OTHER TIDBITS

A building permit was submitted to do tenant improvement work at the new four-story South Bay Suites building in Fairhaven for an unnamed retail tenant. According to the company’s website, all of the apartments in the building are reserved and scheduled to be ready for occupancy by April. ... The Copper Hog Gastropub has extended its partnership with Bellingham United F.C., the local semi-pro soccer squad. The Copper Hog logo will be on the front of the soccer team’s home and away jerseys for the next two years as the title sponsor.

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