All American Deli & Ice Cream
Owner: Robert Jones
Address: 1200 Old Fairhaven Parkway, Suite 107
Startup date: Nov. 15
Square footage: 1,200
Initial investment: More than $200,000
Giving a tour of his new eatery, All American Deli & Ice Cream, on a recent sunny morning in Fairhaven, owner Robert Jones was like a proud new parent.
Walking around the outside of the new 12th Street Village building, where his restaurant is located, he pointed out where a new courtyard will go in a few months, how his roll-up windows will create a more open, airy feel in the summer, and bragged about how his drive-up espresso window is believed to be the only one in Fairhaven. Inside his shop, he pointed out state-of-the-art espresso and frozen yogurt machines and the shiny look to everything.
“I’ve got a nice little store here. I’m very proud of it,” he said with a smile, as he sipped one of his organic coffees.
A full-time software consultant with SAP America, Jones, a novice business owner, said he opened the franchise restaurant as a way to diversify his investments. Also, he’d always wanted to own his own business and the All American Deli & Ice Cream model, frankly, seemed pretty fun.
“I have to confess, I do love ice cream,” he said. “I tried to look for something that I like and complements my style.”
After doing due diligence on several other franchises in the last few years, Jones said he decided on All American because of its Pacific Northwest ties. The company, he said, is headquartered in Portland, Ore., and uses many regional vendors, such as Cascade Estates Coffees, Harry’s soups and Snow Peaks ice cream.
In deciding on a location for his restaurant, Jones, who moved with his family to the Lynden area from Michigan seven years ago, said he wanted to be in Fairhaven because of its booming residential scene, influx of upscale new businesses and history of being a quaint tourist destination.
“Fairhaven is a strong draw for tourists and (Old Fairhaven Parkway and 12th Street) is a prime corner to be on,” he said. “Anyone coming into Fairhaven has two ways to get here, and I’m right here.”
Jones said he’s also in a prime spot because he’s the only eatery in the 12th Street Village building, which continues to fill up with commercial tenants, and is near the development’s condo units, which are expected to be finished by May.
Because his restaurant is a little tough to spot from the road, Jones said he’s had to try a variety of marketing strategies. In recent months, he’s purchased newspaper and radio ads, added his eatery to a local coupon book, and partnered with local private schools in a program that gives kids one free ice cream cone for every five books they read.
With warm weather fast approaching, and the area growing at a fast pace, Jones said he’s optimistic about the future of his six-employee restaurant, which offers hot and cold sandwiches, ice cream, frozen yogurt and espresso.
“I feel like we’re Fairhaven’s undiscovered treasure,” he said.
— J.J. Jensen
Four Starrs Boutique and Beauty Bar
Owner: Danielle Starr
Address: 910 Harris Ave. #104
Startup date: Feb. 28
Square footage: 727
Initial investment: $50,000
Owning her own clothing and cosmetic store, and making others happy, has always been a dream of 31-year-old Danielle Starr, who opened Four Starrs Boutique and Beauty Bar in Fairhaven last month.
“I’ve wanted to own a store since birth, and since I was playing with Barbies,” she said.
In high school, in Pleasanton, Calif., the feelings grew stronger.
“I was the type of person who, when their friends would show up before prom, would do their hair and makeup,” she said. “My mom always said, ‘What about yours,’ but I always liked making others feel better about themselves.”
Starr, whose background in the retail and fashion industry includes stints at the Jody Bergsma Gallery, Gallery West, Pacific Trade, Eddie Bauer, Samuel’s Furniture and Aeropostale, said she finally decided to open her own boutique about four months ago.
Working as a product designer and account manager at Blaine’s Little i, a women’s wholesale accessories company, many of her clients, including officials at Nordstrom, Claire’s and Sephora, repeatedly told her she should be running her own business.
“It was like pouring gasoline on a fire,” she said. “All these people were telling me I should be doing my own thing, and when you hear the same thing enough times you start to believe it.”
Starr, a 1998 Western Washington University grad who now lives in Ferndale with her husband and two young children, said she’s noticed Fairhaven move in a more upscale direction in recent years and wanted her shop to add to that flavor, giving it a more urban and contemporary feel.
In the past, said Starr, many Bellingham residents have had to go to larger cities to find the types of items available in her store, such as designer denim, “which has been lacking in Bellingham for some time,” and designer jewelry and handbags.
Denim brands at the store, Starr said, will include Rock & Republic, True Religion and Juicy Couture, along with lines of clothing designed by Starr’s contacts in the fashion world.
While on recent buying trips, Starr said she looked for clothes that people in all income brackets could afford. She also brought her mother, to ensure the clothes would appeal to women of varied ages.
“I want people to be able to find items here that are unique,” she said. “This is definitely a place to find your individual self and express yourself through fashion.”
In borrowing a concept from one of her favorite stores, Sephora, Starr is also offering a do-it-yourself beauty bar, where customers can sample a range of cosmetic brands, including Lip Fusion, Diane Brill and Girlatik, without dealing with a high-pressure salesperson.
Starr — who named her store after both the quality of service she wants to deliver and the four members of her immediate family — said she’s another person positively afflicted by the “Bellingham Curse.”
After college, she moved to Seattle for a while, but, as many others have learned, “Bellingham was like a magnet and we came back.”
She believes opening her own store was meant to be.
“All my friends say if you look at a timeline of my life, everything has been leading up to this moment,” Starr said, “I hope everything turns out well.”
— J.J. Jensen
Owners: Joel Day and Brian
Address: 1221 Harris Ave.
Web site: www.tweeks.org
Startup date: Early March
Square footage: 2,300
Initial investment: $20,000
When Brian Anderson, 22, and Joel Day, 24, met a few months ago, working at Mojo Music, they quickly learned they had a lot in common.
They both had “screwed up” senses of humor. They both followed their girlfriends to Bellingham from the Seattle area. They’d both played in bands for years. And they shared a common goal.
“We were tired of working for others and had a pipe dream of starting our own music store,” said Day.
So, after coming up with a business plan, checking out a couple of locations around town, and talking Day’s father-in-law into giving them some financial backing, the two young entrepreneurs last week opened Tweeks in Fairhaven.
The new business sells a variety of amplifiers, acoustic and electric guitars and basses, educational materials, and accessories including strings, straps and gig bags.
Since Anderson has a certificate from Renton Technical College in instrument repair, specializing in woodwinds and brass, and Day was a repair technician for a few years at Guitar Center in Kirkland, the two also offer a full range of repair services at the shop.
Anderson, a former high school “band geek” turned drummer in the Seattle band “Self Induced,” and Day, “an old metal head” who played bass in the Seattle band “Metempsychosis,” said they were already aware of Bellingham’s burgeoning music scene before they moved up here.
While there are several existing music stores in the area, Anderson and Day said Bellingham’s music scene is large enough to support another.
“People in the local music scene are very supportive up here,” Anderson said. “I think there’s a lot of potential for people to buy our stuff. With all our different brands, we’ll offer good competition.”
Because the two are in their early 20s, they believe they’ll be able to relate to the needs and concerns of many of the area’s young musicians.
“We’re in the same age group, and share the same perspectives, of the college kids and working people in the local scene,” Day said.
In addition to being a place to buy and repair instruments, Day and Anderson said they also want their shop to be a hub for local musicians.
To make their shop a destination-type business, they’ve added a soundproof jam room, a stage for bands to practice on, and an area for customers to mingle over coffee. One night a week, they’ll also show movies, ranging from “Disney films to House of 1,000 Corpses,” Day said.
While the jovial, easy-going duo is excited about operating Tweeks (named after what they do with instruments, and one of their favorite South Park characters), they said there is one major reason they hope they succeed.
“My father-in-law is kind of a smart (aleck) and teases us about how he’s going to go broke,” Day said. “He said that if he dies he’s going to will all of his debt to me.”
— J.J. Jensen