Biker’s Oasis

Owners: Mike and Pam Melland
Address: 3205 Northwest Ave.
Phone: 752 – 2453
Startup date: Oct. 31
Square footage: 1,800

Motorcycle enthusiasts Mike and Pam Melland have made their hobby their new career after opening Biker’s Oasis on Northwest Avenue.

    Pam Melland had never been into motorcycles before she met Mike. The two married a year ago and now she’s got bikes on her brain all the time.
   “Now I’m his biker chick,” she joked at the couple’s new store, Biker’s Oasis, on Northwest Avenue.
   For their honeymoon, the newlyweds cruised Wyoming, Montana and Utah on Mike’s Honda Goldwing, where they ran across the path of Aerosmith lead singer, Steven Tyler, who was also on a motorcycle trip and became the inspiration for the couple to open their own biker shop.
   “He was so down-to-earth, and I always run into that when riding,” Mike said. “I like how real the people are.”
   Mike had been riding motorcycles since he was 12. Ten years ago he took a month-long ride through the lower 48 states. More recently, both Mike and Pam have been riding with a group of about 50 members of Christ the King Community Church on a weekly basis.
   The two had dabbled in construction and development for a while, but decided to do something more relevant to their passion and opened Biker’s Oasis at the end of October.
   The shop sells motorcycle parts and accessories, including leather clothing, helmets, intercom systems and radio headsets, breaks, plugs, chains and chrome accessories.
   “All sorts of little doodads,” Pam said.
   The store does not offer Harley-Davidson-brand items, but does offer parts and accessories that are compatible with Harleys, Mike said.
   In fact, narrowing the focus of what the shop’s inventory would include was one of their biggest challenges. With 20 fat catalogs, each containing 1,000 pages of motorcycle parts and accessories, stacked on Mike’s desk, he said it’s hard to figure out what and what not to stock. He’s settled on stocking what he thinks are the most in-demand items, and will help a customer find anything that’s not in the store in one of the catalogues and order it for them.
   Pam and Mike want to cultivate an oasis of biker culture at their shop, which also features a donation-based espresso stand, the proceeds of which will go toward their effort to build a biker church, a non-denominational Christian fellowship where motorcyclists could worship God together.
   The two are also seasoned karaoke singers, and will start hosting biker karaoke nights at the store, even though they admit the two things don’t necessarily go together.
   “We just want it to be a hangout place,” Pam said. “We’re all about having fun.”

Willicake Children’s Books
Owner: Wendy McHenry
Address: 3201 Northwest Ave., Suite 2
Phone: 671-3973
Startup date: Sept. 1
Square footage: 415

Wendy McHenry’s love of reading has found expression in her new store, Willicake Children’s Books.

    There is no comfier feeling than that of being surrounded by thousands of used books whose stories have thrilled and entertained thousands of children before they ended up in a small book store on Northwest Avenue.
   The store, Willicake Children’s Books, offers a yellow and orange-striped couch — the kind that’s hard to get up from — and several overstuffed floor cushions, as well as a montage of framed vintage children’s book illustrations hanging on the wall.
   Owner Wendy McHenry looks perfectly in her element.
   The idea for a used bookstore for children grew out of the former viola teacher’s love of reading. Throughout her college life as an undergrad in Western Washington University’s music department and as a graduate student of music in Texas, McHenry worked in libraries to pay the bills, and decided recently that her love of books could be more than just a passion.
   She named the store for her four grandparents’— Wilbur, Lillian, Catherine and Kenneth.
   “They were the first ones to buy me books when I was a kid,” she said. “You know how your grandparents always spoil you.”
   Their gifts to her included “The Wizard of Oz,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and “The Little Prince,” she said.
   Opening the store and focusing on children’s books “is a way of hanging onto your childhood,” she said.
   “I thought the community could support a kid’s bookstore with really high-quality books,” she said. “It’s a good place for parents, teachers and librarians to go. I wanted the place to feel like an in-home library.”
   Most of the books cost about half the price they would new, and include about 3,000 titles for children and young adults aged 3 to 17. McHenry said she also plans to add a vintage collector’s section geared toward adults.
   Some of her favorites, which include Nancy Drew mysteries and the Harry Potter series, can be found in the stacks, as well as a portion — about two-shelves worth — of pop-up books from her personal collection.
   At this point in the tale, McHenry has no employees and the store is only open Thursday through Sunday. The rest of the week she spends searching for used children’s books in good condition.
   Other than that, her biggest challenge has been balancing her passion with the needed business sense to make her store successful, especially never having owned a retail business before.
   “The business aspect is hard, especially when it’s based on your passion. It’s hard to get over that hump,” she said.
   With a little help from Nancy Drew, McHenry is sure to discover the path to success.

Unique West
Owner: Theresa Griffin
Address: 1323 Cornwall Ave.
Phone: 527-2230
Web site:
Startup date: Nov. 1
Square footage: 1,700

Theresa Griffin’s new high-end boutique, Unique West on Cornwall Avenue, aims to lure the city’s discriminating clothes buyers.

    Theresa Griffin’s excitement for her new high-end women’s clothing store, Unique West, is evident in her giddy squeal as two workers affix her sign above the shop’s front door on Cornwall Avenue.
   “Oh, yes, yes, yes,” she says. “It’s exactly what I imagined.”
   Griffin has always fantasized about opening a store full of all her favorite clothing brands but never felt it was the right time during her years as a stay-at-home mother of three kids.
   “I’ve always been a clothes horse,” she says. “Clothes, shoes, handbags, jewelry — the list is a mile long.”
   A few months ago, after her youngest child started kindergarten, Griffin’s husband encouraged her to fly to Los Angeles to check out the clothing markets, and — surprising both her husband and herself — came back loaded with clothing she loved.
   Much of that clothing can now be found hanging from racks in her new store. Dresses, slacks, sweaters, tops and jackets from brands such as Tibi, Anna Sui and Ella Moss range from casual to dressy. The prices range from affordable to high-end, she said.
   “There is a little bit for a lot of budgets,” she said. Her dresses, for example, range from $114 to $464.
   The store, which Griffin designed and decorated herself, feels like a princess’s baroque closet. The warm orange colors and high ceilings with whirling fans enclose racks and tables filled with every imaginable color, texture and pattern. The dressing room is made of a bronze gazebo that looks like a large birdcage draped in fabric. The entire store smells like spice.
   Her idea is to market her clothing to women who are in their mid-30s or older who want to look fashionable but age-appropriate, although she thinks any college student or twenty-something would feel perfectly comfortable in these stylish threads.
   “I have a lot of friends who still want to look stylish, but don’t think they have many options,” she said.
   Now they can shop like royalty on Cornwall Avenue.



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