Owners: Jeremy and Laurel Larsen
Address: 1200 Harris Ave., Ste. 104
Square footage: 900
Startup date: March 3
|Jeremy Larsen, owner of Coda Musical Instruments, has found a way to play his guitar while on the job.|
Jeremy Larsen said one of the perks of owning a music store is being able to hone his guitar and bass skills while on the job.
Running his new instrument retail shop in Fairhaven allows him to pluck down his favorite electric guitar from the wall and practice anytime.
“I wanted to live in the musical environment, I didn’t want to just visit there anymore,” he said.
Larsen’s goal is to make the lofty, warmly lit space in Fairhaven’s Sycamore Square a musician’s pad, where people can relax, drink coffee and jam — and he’d also like to sell a few used guitars along the way. But other than paying his mortgage, money is not his main concern.
“The motivation behind it is to get people involved somehow, to get good instruments to people,” he said.
After graduating from Western Washington University with a philosophy degree, Larsen weighed his career options and decided opening an instrument shop would be fun.
“I don’t have a plethora of marketable skills,” Larsen chuckled. “Those who can’t do, teach, and those who can’t teach, sell.”
His friend and owner of Archives, a CD and record store in Sycamore Square, encouraged him to open the shop in the building, and Larsen spent eight weeks renovating it.
He proudly displays a scrapbook of the process, from photos of his pet, Jakedog, trotting around in the empty room to the 1,200 pounds of garbage he lugged to the dump.
The finished product is a tan-colored, airy space, with high ceilings and guitars hanging from the exposed brick walls.
Larsen said he named the store Coda, which is a musical notation that signifies the end of a composition, “because it’s a musical notation and it’s short.”
He predominantly buys and sells used guitars and bass guitars, but said he would accept and sell any type of instrument. The upstairs loft features a space for guitar and bass instructors to give lessons, and Larsen accepts donations in return for the use of the space.
“I tell my instructors to remember that that’s my beer and coffee money,” he said.
The most gratifying aspect of opening Coda has been the ability to bring Jakedog to work, Larsen said.
It’s a concept that sounds simple enough, but symbolizes a greater point to this musical philosopher-turned entrepreneur, namely his appreciation for the autonomy that sole proprietorship affords him.
“My priorities, now, are what’s important to me,” he said.
|Adele Racanello hopes to help 50-somethings like herself stay beautiful and feel good about how they look with her new business, Viva Face to Face.|
After working in administration at Georgia-Pacific for 17 years, Adele Racanello had a change of heart that turned into an about-face in her career.
“I got a wild hair to do something different,” Racanello said.
She quit her job as a production planner at Georgia-Pacific’s tissue mill and spent the next six months at Bellevue’s Euro Institute, where she received an esthetician’s license. Racanello had never been passionate about skin care before, but liked the idea of owning her own business and the freedom of setting her own hours. She said compared to her administrative work at Georgia-Pacific, her new profession is completely different.
“It’s a hands-on, one-on-one personal relationship with the client,” she said.
Racanello opened Viva Face to Face in a studio attached to her home near Lake Whatcom at the beginning of the year.
The business appealed to 56-year-old Racanello as she and her friends began aging.
“I’m at the age where all my friends and I are looking at ourselves, going, ‘What can we do?’” she said.
She specializes in treatment facials, including microdermabrasion and quasar light facials, which use LED light technology, she said, but also offers traditional “frou frou” facials, as well.
One of her main challenges has been dealing with tendonitis in her wrist, a physical ailment Racanello said could “make or break” an esthetician. With treatment, she has been able to overcome the condition.
She has also felt challenged by the realities of leaving a stable job at Georgia-Pacific for a sole proprietorship, but the move has proven to have both positive and negative aspects.
“You can’t just go in a cubicle and hide,” she chuckled.
However, she appreciates the flexible hours and the ability to take a vacation when she wants to.
And because she had a nest egg saved up from her years at Georgia-Pacific, Racanello said she feels lucky to start her own business with less risk than most first-time business owners. In fact, she didn’t have to take out any loans to purchase the expensive equipment she uses for her facials.
Racanello added that because of her low overhead, she is able to offer prices lower than those of most local salons and spas.
So far, the most gratifying aspect of her endeavor has been getting immediate feedback from clients — always positive, she said.
“I just want to keep my fellow baby boomers beautiful without having to go under the knife or do something drastic,” she said.
Bayou On Bay
Owner: Steve Crosier
Address: 1300 Bay Street
Square footage: 2,000
Startup date: April 2
|Steve Crosier and daughter, Raquel, have opened Cajun eatery Bayou On Bay at 1300 Bay St., in the former Stuart’s Coffee House location. Crosier and his two daughters considered opening an Italian restaurant, but decided on barbecue after visiting other Italian restaurants in town.|
After visiting D’Anna’s Café Italiano, Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant and Mambo Italiano, Seattle transplant Steve Crosier decided to forgo his idea of opening an Italian restaurant in his new hometown.
Instead, he decided to go barbecue.
After managing Seattle’s Underground Tour and Doc Maynard’s nightclub for 20 years, he was ready to invest in his own enterprise in Bellingham, where his daughter attends Western Washington University. But after getting feedback from a local restaurant manager who discouraged the barbecue idea, Crosier decided to tweak the concept.
He remembered one of his favorite restaurants in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, The New Orleans Restaurant, and had an epiphany to open a Cajun eatery.
“That’s a way of doing barbecue without saying barbecue,” he said. The concept of Cajun emanates more of a mystique to potential customers than barbecue does, he said.
Crosier sold his Seattle home to fund the restaurant and began searching for the perfect space. He recruited his two college-aged daughters to help with the startup.
“I started prowling around, looking for something to lease,” he said. And that’s when he found the space on Bay Street, home to the former Stuart’s and Bay Street coffee houses. After viewing the space once, Crosier was smitten.
“I had my checkbook out ready to sign the deposit,” he said.
For the next five months, Crosier and his daughter, Raquel — who took a break from her studies at The Evergreen State College to help her father open the business — worked to translate the space into what would become Bayou On Bay. They painted the walls voodoo red and Dijon yellow, and gave the pressed-tin ceiling a subtle, charred black.
Crosier’s other daughter and Western student, Serena, who had worked as a server at Phad Thai, introduced her father to James Wysocki, a chef at the Thai restaurant on Meridian. Crosier recruited him to Bayou On Bay, and the two developed a menu that blends affordable, traditional Cajun fare, such as jambalaya, red beans and rice and po’ boy sandwiches, with fancier, upscale pasta, fish and steak dishes.
“I’ve never been into the fancy suit-and-tie type of thing,” Crosier said. Wysocki, however, leaned more to the sophisticated side. He wanted filet mignon, which would have been the highest-priced item on the menu. The two compromised on a more affordable New York Strip steak option.
With his daughters by his side, Crosier opened the restaurant in April serving just lunches, and added dinners shortly after. Because the space had once been the hub of coffee culture downtown, residents were curious about what the former Stuart’s space had turned into.
“I knew that just because of that, people would come,” he said. The curiosity had a positive effect, attracting a healthy dose of customers and incurring several Friday rushes.
“People just love this space, whether it’s a coffee house or a restaurant,” he said.