Business

Retail Tipsheet: More store openings than closings so far in 2015

Safeway opened Feb. 6 in Sunset Square in the largest store opening in Whatcom County so far this year. In this file photo, workers make final preparations on Feb. 4. Safeway was one of more than 40 brick-and-mortar store openings in the county as we near the halfway point of 2015, a pace that is slower than in recent years.
Safeway opened Feb. 6 in Sunset Square in the largest store opening in Whatcom County so far this year. In this file photo, workers make final preparations on Feb. 4. Safeway was one of more than 40 brick-and-mortar store openings in the county as we near the halfway point of 2015, a pace that is slower than in recent years. The Bellingham Herald

Whatcom County appears to be returning to a pre-recession business climate when it comes to company openings and closures.

As we near the halfway point of 2015, I’ve counted 19 brick-and-mortar business closures, putting it on pace to be the lowest annual closure total since 2007. It’s also much lower than last year, when I spotted 35 closures at the end of June.

New store openings also have slowed. So far this year I’ve counted 47 brick-and-mortar business openings, less than the 57 I counted in the first six months of 2014. Last year’s first half total also was fewer than in 2012 and 2013. These openings and closings are based on what I’ve spotted, press releases and a head’s up from readers.

It’s certainly a different trend than a few years ago. Most of the closings that took place so far this year were quickly replaced by new businesses, especially restaurants replacing other restaurants. Nearly all of the closures so far have been small companies, usually with no more than a handful of employees each.

When it comes to openings, it’s hard to spot a trend, except to say many continue to be in Bellingham, with the popular shopping areas like Meridian/Cordata, downtown and Fairhaven well-represented.

CHANGES IN THE FOOTHILLS

Maple Falls Café has closed, but it’s not expected to remain that way for long.

Sam Hassan recently closed the cafe so he could concentrate on two of his other projects: Running Milano’s restaurant in Glacier and building a distillery in Sumas. He said that new ownership will be re-opening the café, possibly as a hamburger eatery.

At Milano’s, Hassan said he is working on putting a bar on the west section of the restaurant, which should be ready later this month. He’s also expanding the wrap-around outdoor seating while maintaining the Italian menu.

The distillery will be a non-retail facility in Sumas that should be ready in a couple months, Hassan said.

PIZZA PLACE OPENS ON MERIDIAN

Domino’s pizza has a new location in Bellingham.

The pizza company recently moved into Meridian Village at 3930 Meridian St., Suite 102 (near Marshalls and Ross Dress For Less stores), officially opening on Monday, June 1. The restaurant was previously at 1301 E. Sunset Drive.

The new location has dine-in seating, a chalk wall for children and an open design so people can watch the food being made, said William Elmer, the area supervisor for all four Whatcom County locations.

The restaurant opens at 10 a.m. every day, closing at midnight Sunday through Thursday, staying open an hour later on Friday and Saturday. The Meridian Street Domino’s delivers in the north part of Bellingham up to East Smith Road. The Sehome Village Domino’s delivers in the south part of town below Alabama Street.

OTHER TIDBITS

Jeckyl & Hyde Deli and Ale House announced on its Facebook page that it will be closed on Sundays during the summer. It will bring back the Sunday menu when the football season rolls around. ... A building permit was submitted to put in a retail store at 1240 E. Maple St. called Bellingham Smartphone Repair. ... Progress is being made at Gruff Brewing at 104 E. Maple St. (near Depot Market Square). Last week the owners applied for a building permit to put in a production facility and tasting room, as well as applied for a state liquor license for a microbrewery. The liquor license applicants are Christopher Bierman, Jameson Longman and Eric Wright.

Reach Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BhamHeraldBiz and on Facebook at BellinghamHeraldBusiness.

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