Business Births

 

Dandelion Organic Delivery

Owners: Maria Stavrakas and Jonathan Lane

Phone number: 933-1130

Web address: www.dandelionorganic.com

Startup date: May 1

Maria Stavrakas and Jonathan Lane deliver fresh-from-the-farm produce to customers once a week. The couple buys from local organic farms, saving the gas and long drive times needed for large grocery store produce.

Maria Stavrakas and Jonathan Lane want their customers to cross off organic fruits and vegetables from their grocery lists and add Dandelion Organic Delivery to their phone list instead.

The married couple began delivering bins of fresh, seasonal produce once a week to customers doors in May, making it easier for single parents and elderly clients, among others, to save time and effort during their weekly errands. The bins change with the seasons, depending on what is fresh, and are always overflowing with produce from local farms and distributors.

One of June’s bins, for example, included strawberries, pluots, cantaloupe, mangoes, mint, an assortment of greens, cabbage, squash and beets. A newsletter included with the bin offers recipes for the spoils, such as “strawberry mint pancakes” and “roasted beet salad with beet greens and feta.”

Stavrakas, who has a degree in hospitality management and a background in wild plant medicinal harvesting, and Lane, who has worked for several small family-owned businesses, wanted to start a company that embraced their love of organic food and environmental sensibilities. By buying organic produce from local farms, the couple reduces long drive times and gas consumption associated with large grocery store produce items.

The idea is not original, Stavrakas said. In Seattle, the couple used a similar service and decided to bring the concept to Bellingham.

“It’s in line with what we love,” Stavrakas said. Lane added, “We love food and cooking and the environmental aspect of it.”

Their customers love the convenience of the service, as well as the surprise they get once a week discovering their bin’s produce selection, Lane said.

“It’s like Christmas every Tuesday,” he chuckled.

For first-time business owners, the major challenge has been getting the word out to potential customers and, consequently, the cost of marketing. Lane said once people hear about the service, they are usually inclined to sign up.

While their startup costs were negligible because they are a home-based business and because they don’t maintain an inventory, the bulk of their expenses have gone toward marketing.

Being members of Sustainable Connections has been a boon for Dandelion; the organization linked them up with local farms and offered them community exposure. And so far, they are still in love with their chosen business venture.

Now, the Dandelion Organics owners are just trying to blow the seeds of organic produce delivery into homes across Bellingham, and hoping they will take root.

 

1-800-GOT-JUNK?

Owners: Gerry and Jeremy Tunnell and James Titus

Address: 4152 Meridian St., Suite 105-176

Phone number: 543-7881

Web address: www.1800gotjunk.com

E-mail: gerry.tunnell@1800got junk.com

Startup date: April 1

The 1-800-GOT-JUNK crew don blue wigs and get the word out to passersby during "Wig Out" in May.

Got some old junk? Wrought iron chairs with fraying cushions? Beat-up stuffed animals or rusty tricycles, pockmarked pots and dinged hubcaps?

All those thousands of pounds of dump loads have potential reuse and recycling possibilities, and a new local franchise is banking on these junk troves to keep them in the black.

Jeremy and Gerry Tunnell decided to open a 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchise in Bellingham after working for Comcast for several years and deciding to get out of corporate America. The couple started Plowline Consulting, a marketing and sales consulting business, in 2003 and then began discussing the JUNK idea with their friend, James Titus, back in February.

Gerry describes the business as an environmentally friendly junk removal service, a franchise that originated in Vancouver, B.C., in 1989 and now has more than 300 locations in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Customers pay the business to retrieve anything from furniture and pianos to bicycles and clothes from their homes or businesses, although the company does not remove trash or hazardous items. Then JUNK employees work with local agencies and organizations such as the RE Store, Value Village and the Salvation Army to recycle or donate for reuse 80 percent of the items.

Behind their office space on Meridian Street, organized clusters of junk sit in the company’s 1,500-square-foot warehouse, waiting to be transported to one of those organizations. Gerry also saves some of the items in better condition for special charity garage sales, the proceeds of which go to local organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The work can be physically strenuous and dirty, but Gerry said her enthusiastic team of employees and the fresh air make it fun.

“We do everything from fridges to green waste. Sometimes it takes 20 minutes, sometimes it takes five hours,” she said. “But it’s fun being outside. I like to get out and get dirty, but I clean up pretty well.”

So far, about half of their customers have been in the process of moving and need to get rid of some unneeded household inventory, and the others are simply cleaning and weeding through their junk. Either way, Gerry and her employees said they feel good about reducing the amount of debris going into landfills while also helping their clients de-clutter their homes.

“We are people that believe in the same vision,” she said. “We didn’t want to be a shuttle to the landfill.”

 

Two Thimbles Quilt Shop

Owner: Lee Glendening

Address: 1805 Cornwall Ave.

Phone number: 715-1629

E-mail: leeg@twothimbles.com

Startup: May 1

Square footage: 2,000

For a long time, Lee Glendening’s signature bumper sticker quote might have read, “I’d rather be quilting.”

She has been sewing and quilting as a hobby since her young adulthood. In college she earned a business degree with a clothing textiles minor and proceeded to work in banking compliance for the next 20 years.

“After the last merger, acquisition and takeover, I parted ways and have found a happier path,” she said.

Glendening opened Two Thimbles on Cornwall Avenue in May, and has been happily busy ever since.

The shop offers a variety of fabrics, mostly cotton for quilting or wearable art, patterns, quilt-related books and reference materials, supplies such as thread, rulers, and cutting needles, as well as novelty items like “fun ribbons” and buttons.

Customers can also take a variety of classes in the shop’s classroom, ranging from basic and beginning quilting to appliqué and specialty quilting.

The store also offers a special large quilting machine, called a Gammill Statler, which can be programmed to assemble a quilt hands free. Soon customers will be able to take an introductory class and then rent the Gammill by the hour, or have Glendening’s staff complete projects with it for a fee.

With all of the classes and the Gammill, Glendening is hoping her shop will be more than just a retail store for quilters. She is hoping it will serve as a resource and source of inspiration to quilters.

Her biggest challenge so far has been getting all the million things done in order to open a small business.

“There are a lot of moving parts to starting a business, and being a small business owner, you get to do all of that,” she said.

But ultimately, the experience has paid off. Now, her signature bumper sticker would more aptly describe her current outlook on life: “I am quilting.”

“Owning my own quilting store is way more fun that banking,” she said.

Related Stories