Little Tiger Toys
Owners: Hans Sendelbach, Mandala Cascade, Spencer Willhoft, Stephan Sendelbach, Elanos Mansker
Address: 1417 Railroad Ave.
Startup date: Oct. 8
Square footage: 1,000
What’s cuter, a platypus or a baby tiger?
This is just one of the tough decisions Hans Sendelbach faced before opening Little Tiger Toys in downtown Bellingham.
“It was going to be Platypus Toys at first because they’re cute, but then we found out that they have claws on their back feet and they’re poisonous. They’re kind of freakish animals,” Sendelbach said. Plus, “little tigers remind me of kids running around.”
And that’s what Sendelbach said he would like to see in his store: kids running around, getting lost in the vast amount of toys on the shelves. Downtown doesn’t have a toy store, he points out, and he hopes that Little Tiger Toys becomes a downtown destination for people of all ages.
Sendelbach is already one of the owners of another local icon, Casa Que Pasa. When he and his four partners decided to buy the restaurant after it closed in 2006, the extra space next door came with the restaurant and was used as an informal office. But Sendelbach had other ideas.
“At first I wanted an art studio, but retail makes more sense in this location,” he said.
Sendelbach admits that he’s not much of a businessman or salesman, but he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pursue his dream of owning a toy store. So he began remodeling the store earlier this year while continuing to operate the restaurant.
“It took way too long to get it open,” he said. “It was kind of second fiddle to the restaurant and we were on a very limited budget. I did most of it myself.”
All of that time and effort paid off, though. The walls beam with bright colors and all kinds of toys line the shelves, from stuffed animals to wooden trains to board games. Sendelbach is just putting the finishing touches on the last section of the store and plans to have the store fully stocked for the holidays.
Sendelbach said he doesn’t follow any ideological agendas when ordering toys, he just gets the toys he likes and tries to make sure they are affordable to the average Bellingham resident.
“I’m still learning what my preferences are,” he said. “We have a few battery-operated toys, but batteries are just a pain in the butt.”
No matter what toy it is, though, opening the shipments when they arrive “is just like Christmas.”
— Isaac Bonnell
No Gravity Board Skins
Owners: Dave, Alan and Tim Donnelly
Address: 2206 Pacific St.
Startup date: Oct. 15
Web site: nogravityskins.com
Those old skis and snowboards in your garage may still work fine, but one look at the graphics and every other rider on the mountain knows just how old your equipment really is.
Dave Donnelly and Dave Weldon can help you with that. Simply cover up those hot pink ‘80s graphics with something new and unique.
That’s the main idea behind No Gravity Board Skins. The business, which is a subsidiary of Special T Signs & Graphics, uses the same technology that Donnelly uses for signs.
“The idea of skins is not new,” Donnelly said. From laptops to cars, skins have become increasingly popular on all sorts of objects. And now Donnelly hopes it will catch on for skis and snowboards.
The skins are made of the same material used to put logos on NASCAR race cars. The material has a clear laminate coating over top to protect the image from UV rays and wear and tear.
“The main question we get is ‘How will this hold up?’” Donnelly said. “We do vehicle wraps with this material and it holds up fine. These will last just as long as your board.”
The idea for the company arose after Donnelly and Weldon picked up some old rental equipment from the Mount Baker Ski Area. The boards still worked fine, but the graphics were boring, Weldon said.
From there, Weldon, a graphic designer, drew up as many new designs as he could think of and the pair made a few test runs using old snowboards. The process worked well and the new graphics were received well among other snow enthusiasts.
“I just try to come up with things I think look cool,” Weldon said. “But other people may not think it looks cool, so I try to keep it as random as possible.”
The business offers about 50 designs on its Web site, all of which can be tweaked to your preference, Weldon said. For those who have an artistic idea all their own, Weldon can work up a fully customized board skin, too.
And if mountain fashion changes next season or if you get tired of the decal, the skins can easily be removed and replaced. It’s almost like adding fresh snow to the mountain experience.
— Isaac Bonnell
Dollar Wise Animal Clinic
Owner: Dr. Roger Williams
Address: 414 W. Bakerview Road Suite 101
Square Footage: 2,550
Startup Date: Nov. 1
When Dr. Roger Williams was a boy working summers on his uncle’s farm near Edison, Wash., he wanted to be a veterinarian for livestock animals.
“I changed my mind after a few years of veterinary school,” Williams said. “I didn’t want to get kicked by a horse. I saw a friend getting kicked and I decided that small animals are more to my liking.”
After nearly 40 years as a vet and four other animal clinics to his credit, Williams has opened his fifth: Dollar Wise Animal Clinic, a low-cost, strictly outpatient clinic, which has a large reception and waiting area and three examination rooms — two for small animals and one for large pets.
Williams said the clinic does anything that can be done in a day, such as vaccinations, spays, neuters, lacerations and tumors, and any catastrophic situations are referred to other area animal hospitals.
“Ninety-five percent of the things that happen in an animal clinic can be treated in a day,” Williams said.
When he was 14, Williams moved to Mississippi with his family where he finished high school, attended Mississippi State University and later Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Alabama.
After graduating in 1970, Williams worked at a clinic in Las Vegas. He went on to start four animal clinics — two in Las Vegas and two in Mississippi. However, after decades as a vet, Williams worked at Vets For Less, which has clinics all over the Puget Sound area, and was inspired by the low-cost, outpatient format.
“Our clinic here is patterned after Vets For Less,” Williams said.
Williams said since the clinic does not handle emergency cases, it does not have to have X-ray and ultrasound machines or surgical lasers, and the clinic is able to pass the savings on to customers through access to affordable, quality pet medicines.
“They (customers) will be able to afford quality medicine here,” Williams said. “They might not be able to afford it at the other places, especially on certain services.”
After years of helping animals across the country, Williams said he has returned to his home state to continue his passion for pets.
“I keep doing it because I have a like and respect of animals and helping people to take care of animals in need,” Williams said. “It’s rewarding at the end.”
— Lance Henderson