Business

Retail Tipsheet: Bellingham laundry company gets new name

Q Laundry owner Colleen Unema stands Tuesday, Feb. 23, in front of her Bellingham business, which she is renaming Brio Laundry to avoid fighting another business for the Q Laundry name. Unema covered the Q logo with a crying emoticon while she waits for the new signs.
Q Laundry owner Colleen Unema stands Tuesday, Feb. 23, in front of her Bellingham business, which she is renaming Brio Laundry to avoid fighting another business for the Q Laundry name. Unema covered the Q logo with a crying emoticon while she waits for the new signs. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

Colleen Unema decided it was more important to focus on her company and customers than go to court over her business name.

Unema owns Brio Laundry, which is in the Sunnyland Square retail center, near Trader Joe’s. Before Feb. 22, the business was known as Q Laundry, but a trademark dispute resulted in Unema changing the name and brand.

Alliance Laundry Systems, which owns Speed Queen, raised an objection to the logo — a Q with some water on the inside — as it was going through the trademark process, Unema said. Speed Queen’s logo is a Q with a crown on the inside.

Unema believed she had a strong case to keep the logo. Even though they both used the Q, Unema said that they are in different industries. Her company is a retail laundry outlet, while Speed Queen manufactures machines. After talking to lawyers and going back and forth with Speed Queen for five months, Unema decided not to fight it in court.

“Ultimately we decided that we would rather keep our focus on doing what we really love to do, which is to run our small business with integrity and determination,” she said.

Dan Bowe, a spokesman for Alliance Laundry Systems, said the company could not comment on the case at this time.

What made Unema feel better about the situation was the support she’s received from the community. ioCreative of Ferndale, for example, donated time for the rebranding effort. She also received a low-interest loan from the Catalyst Fund, which is a community fund put together by NW Innovation Resource Center, Whatcom Community Foundation and the Industrial Credit Union.

“We couldn't think of a better new business to help with the Catalyst Fund,” said Diane Kamionka of NW Innovation Resource Center.

Unema said she liked the name Brio, which means great energy and confidence. It fits with the company vision and the general attitude at the business, she said, where they try to make the most mundane of chores a more pleasant experience. After researching the name for trademark issues and not finding any, she took it on because of its sound as well as its meaning.

Smaller businesses battling large companies over trademarks appears to be more common these days. Bellingham-based Nautigirl recently won its case against Nautica, but that case was taken on pro bono by the Intellectual Property & Entrepreneurship Clinic at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. If Nautigirl hadn’t received help from the clinic, its estimated court costs would have been around $200,000.

For details about Brio Laundry, visit briolaundry.com.

FLOORING STORE OPENS IN LYNDEN

Earlier this month Ryan and Jolie Winkler opened a retail store called Evergreen State Interiors in Lynden’s Bender Plaza at 8874 Bender Road.

The retail store is the next step in the business, which was started in December 2014. The store sells unfinished, prefinished and engineered wood flooring products. The company also offers installation for all its products as well as refinishing of existing hardwood floors. In a news release, Ryan Winkler said the store soon will expand to offer kitchen cabinets.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and by appointment.

A store grand opening celebration is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 12. For further details, call 360-306-8190 or visit evergreenstateinteriors.com.

BELLINGHAM’S SHERATON BEGINS MAJOR RENOVATION

The Four Points by Sheraton hotel is in the midst of a $2 million renovation of its meeting rooms.

Work began last month on the 14,000 square feet of meeting space and will be completed in late April, according to a company news release. Renovations include new sound systems and new decor from floor to ceiling. The 132-room hotel is at 714 Lakeway Drive.

The renovation of the meeting rooms is the next phase of completely remodeling the facility. Guest rooms, the lobby and the Chinuk restaurant were remodeled earlier.

For details on hotel and convention center, visit FourPointsBellingham.com.

OTHER TIDBITS

Terry Stach is opening a new State Farm insurance office at 424 W. Bakerview Road in Bakerview Square. The scheduled opening date is Tuesday, March 1. For details, call 360-389-5938. ... Round Table Pizza has submitted a tenant improvement permit for its Sunset Square space, which is at 1145 E. Sunset Drive. ... Starbucks has submitted a tenant improvement permit for its Barkley cafe at 2915 Newmarket St. The company recently completed a remodel of its downtown cafe. ... A new business is nearly ready to open at 6912 Hannegan Road, near Infusion Cuisine. It’s called Make Take Bake and its goal is to host freezer meal prep parties. The parties would involve whipping up 10 meals that serve a family of five, making it much easier for those families on hectic work days. Co-owner Debbie Hughes said a soft opening is expected in the next few days with a planned grand opening Saturday, March 12.

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