Owner: Lynn Loewen
Address: 1323 11th St.
Startup date: Oct. 20
Square footage: 965
Walking into Nostalgia is like stepping into a time machine. This time machine takes you back through decades of vintage women’s fashion, from the structured and plain looks of the 1940s up through the flower power and polyester fabrics of the 1970s.
Owner Lynn Loewen sports these fashions herself. Her love of vintage clothing grew out of her career teaching and performing music.
“I always wore vintage when I performed,” Loewen said.
Along with music, Loewen has always had a knack for retail. Though she taught college-level piano and vocal classes for 28 years, she regularly worked retail on the side and even managed small “mom and pop” clothing stores in Vancouver, B.C., and Portland. Now retired from teaching, Loewen said she enjoys focusing her time on running the new store.
“There’s a level of unpredictability about it,”Loewen said. “You have no idea what the day will bring.”
Though Nostalgia specializes in vintage clothes, not all of the clothes are “used.” Approximately half of the clothes in the store come from estate sales or specialty secondhand stores and the other half is new “vintage inspired designs” that Loewen said she picks up from retailers.
The boutique also carries vintage shoes, jewelry, hats and accessories to match whatever era you are looking for.
“We’re a store that specializes in one-of-a-kind clothes. Most of the labels you’ll see in here are from San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Paris, Rome,” she said.
Once Loewen finds a vintage item she likes, she hand washes or dry cleans it and then begins doing the necessary repair work. She does most of the stitching herself and constantly has 20 to 50 dresses stored at her house in Lynden waiting for repairs before they reach the store racks.
One thing Loewen stresses is that Nostalgia is not a consignment or second-hand store. She searches for items herself and also works with a professional buyer.
With so many great vintage looks to choose from, Loewen said she finds it difficult to pick her favorite style. “It depends on the day of the week and the mood I’m in.”
Owner: Matt Vergein
Address: 929 N. State St.
Startup date: April 7
Square footage: 1,500
With tail wagging, a 7-year-old black and white English Pointer named Darcy is often the first to greet people as they walk into Gathering Glass. She’ll happily show you the store and then crawl up onto a couch back near the register.
Music fills the air, and art from local artists covers the wall. Literally. A 10-foot by 10-foot mural of Bob Marley welcomes customers to the back half of the store. It’s a comfortable atmosphere, which is exactly what owner Matt Vergein said he is going for.
Vergein first began working with glass three years ago after graduating from Western Washington University with a degree in political science. After learning the tricks of the trade, Vergein said he decided to open a glass art studio that focused on tobacco accessories because there is only one other store in town that sells such items.
“Most glass artists start by making pipes” Vergein said. “In fact, most glass art is in pipes because there’s a steady market for them. Not just here, but all over.”
The pipes in Gathering Glass range from small, simple-colored pipes to large, ornate ones that would dominate any living room coffee table. The pipes range in price from $20 to $1,200. And if a customer likes a specific design but not the color, Vergein said he can custom make pipes to fit personal tastes. “People can bring in sketches or pick out their own colors.”
Below each piece of art in the store is the name of the artist who designed it, and the sale of each piece is then credited to that artist. Though most of the store inventory is pipes, Vergein said he makes most of his money from the sale of pendants and jewelry.
For those not interested in tobacco accessories or glass art, Gathering Glass also carries custom clothing lines, paintings by local artists, and has a large display case full of decorative minerals and gems such as magnesium and amethyst.
In a town with more than 100 glass artists, Vergein said, the market for glass art is fairly full. However, he said that most artists sell their items outside of town. Now, with the success of the store, Vergein said he is hoping to start selling more items nationally.
“Right now we’re in the process of creating a catalog,” Vergein said.
Hammerhead Coffee Roasting
Owner: Scott Hartwich
Address: 5373 Guide Meridian, Suite F8
Startup date: Oct. 26
Square footage: 1,500
Scott Hartwich is serious about roasting coffee. From the specific temperature of his barrel drum roaster to the type of grinder he uses, each detail is important in creating a perfect cup of coffee. He can pick out small differences in taste, from the “extreme earthiness” of the Sumatra and the “smoky spice” of the Guatemala.
But Hartwich is far from serious about keeping the hoity-toity air of the coffee industry.
“I’m trying to lend a bit of irreverence to this business,” he said. “I don’t think of coffee like wine; I think of it more like beer. I’m a drug pusher; I sell caffeine.”
Through his new company, Hammerhead Coffee Roasting, Hartwich said he hopes to bring about the lighter side of coffee drinkers. One can hardly help but laugh at blends such as the Soccer Mom Blend (a calming, half-decaf concoction that their brochure claims is also good for type-A corporate executives with heart conditions) and Buffy’s Blend, a sharp-as-a-stake coffee named after the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a favorite at the Hartwich home.
Even the company name is playful: “I used to tell my kids stories about my pet hammerhead named Bruce. By the time they were 8 or so they realized he wasn’t real.”
Hammerhead is also the name of a coffee drink often called a “shot in the dark,” which is a shot of espresso mixed with drip coffee. And for those certain Bellingham locals who are often jazzed up on such a drink, Hartwich suggests that “hammerhead” could be an alternative to the popular “hamster” term used to describe residents.
Trying to decide between the five different blends and the six more-familiar varietal coffees (Sumatra, Guatemalan, Peruvian, etc.) can be difficult for first-time buyers, so Hartwich has assembled a sampler pack with six 3-ounce packets of various Hammerhead coffees.
All of the coffees at Hammerhead are organic and fair-trade certified, something Hartwich said he is very adamant about. He also donates 10 percent of each sale to a non-profit of your choice. The list of local and international organizations ranges from Amnesty International to Animals as Natural Therapy to the Parkview PTA. A complete list of non-profits is available online at www.hammerheadcoffee.com.
Though Hartwich has spent more than 20 years working in the coffee industry — from working at Starbucks back in the late 1980s to starting his own espresso bars in Portland — this is the first time he has focused primarily on roasting coffee.
“I can’t say I have 20 years of roasting experience, but the proof is in the cup,” Hartwich said, adding that he drinks Hammerhead coffee every morning in his latte. “I approach it from the standpoint of a consumer of coffee.”