Owner: Andrea Evans
Address: 2915 Newmarket St. Suite 104
Web site: appleyarns.com
Startup date: Aug. 1, 2007
Square footage: 800
Andrea Evans carries her knitting with her everywhere. She pulls out her needles and ball of yarn while waiting for her daughter to get out of ballet class, while cheering on the sidelines of her son’s soccer game, and can sometimes be seen knitting away on a new project during business hours.
But that’s to be expected when you own a yarn store.
Evans opened Apple Yarns in August 2007 with a flurry of yarn and a front window full of apple-red knitted hats. Though there are several other knitting stores in town, Evans said she has seen a steady stream of customers interested in her small shop located in the Barkley District.
“Bellingham is a good little yarn mecca,” Evans said. “It is filled with amazing knitters and crocheters.”
As soon as you step through the shop door, you want to touch everything. More than 10,000 skeins of yarn line the walls, sitting in little square bins waiting for a hand to feel the soft alpaca wool or rough tweed. The sheer amount of yarn can be overwhelming, even for a tactile person, and the array of colors can be even more distracting.
Having trouble picturing how that yarn will look as a sweater? Just look around the shop. Sweaters, hats, purses, wine bottle holders and various other items fill the space and provide customers with a look at the potential for their finished project.
Don’t know how to knit or crochet? Apple Yarns has classes every day and for every type of project, be it a stocking cap or a pair of socks. The store also boasts one of the largest book selections in town devoted to knitting and crocheting.
Creating a fun atmosphere and a community with the store was something that Evans said was very important to her. That’s why she has two-hour “Sit, Knit and Crochet” sessions scheduled for every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. This is a time for people to come into the store, sit around the large table in the back, and share everything from patterns to life stories.
“It takes a village to have a nice yarn shop,” Evans said.
Plus, hanging around with other knitters is a good way to improve your own skills and learn from more experienced knitters and crocheters. She knows that from experience.
“I’m not the best knitter in the store,” said Evans, who has been knitting for eight years. “I was the absolute dunce of my knitting class.”
Sorellas on the Bay
Owners: Nichole Ehman, Tera and Ryan Lorimer
Address: 355 Harris Ave. Suite 105
Startup date: Jan. 2
Square footage: 500
Last month, Nichole Ehman completed a life-long dream: she opened her own restaurant and catering business.
Ehman opened Sorellas on the Bay, located on the ground floor in the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, with her sister Tera Lorimer, a local mortgage broker. The two have split the business operations based on their specialties: Ehman runs the kitchen and Lorimer does the numbers.
The aptly named restaurant — sorellas means sisters in Italian — is small, but has a view unlike any other in Fairhaven.
“We’re Fairhaven’s only waterfront restaurant,” boasted Ehman.
Though the location may be better suited for a grab-and-go sandwich shop, Ehman has worked hard to make the place inviting for customers to lounge and enjoy a hearty meal. Her menu ranges from homey meals like shepherd’s pie to classic French items such as vegetarian crepe.
“Right now I have a lot of comfort food on the menu,” Ehman said. “I’ll lighten things up in the summer.”
Once summer rolls around and the temperature warms up, Ehman said she plans to stay open later into the evening and put some tables and chairs outside so people can enjoy the warm summer sunsets.
Besides the great view, one of the things that appealed to Ehman was that she could also run her catering business, Naturally Decadent Affairs, out of the same kitchen. Plus, the dome room on the second floor, which is often used for public meetings, offered a space that Ehman could easily cater. And since Ehman is now the port’s preferred caterer, anyone renting the upstairs room will hear about her business.
“I’ll eventually get Sorellas to be self- sufficient so that I’m just working on catering events,” Ehman said. “I love catering because it’s a party. Everybody’s happy and dressed up and having fun. And I get to pull out my artistic side when I cater.”
Ehman’s cooking career started at Bellingham Technical College, where she was trained in the French classic tradition. From there, she headed to Hawaii and spent four years working in various restaurants, including four-star establishments.
Now that she has her own establishment, Ehman said she couldn’t be happier.
“I love food and I love to feed people,” she said. “Happy cooks make happy food.”
The Chronic Reefer
Owner: Jason Givant
Address: 1208 Bay St. Suite 101
Web site: chronic-reefer.com
Startup date: Jan. 17
Square footage: 700
No, you can’t buy that at The Chronic Reefer. But you can buy everything you would need to start your own salt-water fish tank.
Jason Givant admits that the name of his new store is a little confusing to some passersby. But to those who keep salt-water tanks — who often refer to themselves as “reefers” because they keep live coral reefs in the tank — the name is an eye-catching play on words.
“We’ve had a lot of people drive by wondering what Chronic Reefer is,” Givant said.
Stepping into the tiny shop next door to The Upfront Theater is like stepping into an aquarium. The back half of the store glows blue from the numerous fish tanks back there. The front half is well-lit with a touch-tank and a tub full of rocks that contain live bacteria and sea minerals that are important to creating the right salt-water mixture in a tank.
Next to the counter sits Givant’s pride and joy: a 90-gallon display tank full of rock, coral, grasses, and several types of exotic fish.
“Everything in [the display tank] has been established for over two years,” Givant said, adding that it used to be his personal hobby tank at home. “It’s better for it to be here since I’m here all the time.”
Givant first became interested in salt-water tanks several years ago when he saw a friend’s tank. His interest soon became a hobby, a hobby that has now turned into his job.
“It’s pretty cool hanging out in a fish store all day.”
The Chronic Reefer has more than 40 types of fish, from the ever-popular clown fish (think Nemo) to a strange-looking relative of the sea horse. They also have several types of coral and a host of natural rocks to decorate your tank.
Givant said he opened the store to reach out to an often under-served population of salt-water hobbyists. Most fish stores focus on fresh-water tanks and have a very small salt-water section. Plus, with a store devoted to salt-water tanks, Givant said he hopes to dispel the idea that salt-water tanks are complicated and hard to take care of.
“Salt water tanks just require a lot of stability,” he said. “But with the right equipment, it’s just as easy as keeping a fresh-water tank.”
To Givant, the appeal of salt-water reef tanks lies in the fact that you can recreate something that already exists in nature. It’s like having your own little piece of the Caribbean. Since he has in essence created his own reef in the display tank, many people often ask Givant if he has been snorkeling or diving to see reefs in the wild.
Though he hasn’t been snorkeling or diving, he said he is becoming more and more interested in trying it: “I’d love to see all this in the natural world.”