Mount Baker Candy Co.

Owners: Josh and Krista Rushane
Address: 1 Bellis Fair Parkway, Suite 434
Phone number: 756-0661
E-mail address:
Startup date: Dec. 2
Square footage: 1,000

Josh and Krista Rushane are satisying sweet tooths everywhere with their new store in Bellis Fair, the Mount Baker Candy Co.

    Although not as wacky as Willy Wonka, and much less furry than the Easter Bunny, Josh Rushane is the definitive candy man of Bellis Fair mall.
   At 15 he began working at his parents’ candy store franchise in Burlington and has had a sweet tooth ever since. Five years later, he moved to Seaside, Ore., to open two chocolate stores.
   “That’s my forte — chocolate,” he said.
   In Seaside, Josh met Krista at church and the two immediately hated each other, according to Krista.
   “We had very different personalities,” she joked.
   “No, she hated me, but I won her over,” Josh said.
   The two slowly formed a friendship, then dated, and finally married last January. Wanting to be closer to Josh’s family, the newlyweds moved to Northwest Washington soon after, and decided to open a candy store together.
   Their store has candy for young and old. The Rushanes wanted to have a family friendly store, especially after Krista gave birth to their daughter, Emilee, in February, and they wanted to offer cross-generational products.
   Therefore, old-fashioned Horehound candies, such as lemon drops and black licorice, mingle with newfangled candy popular with kids these days, such as Pucker Powder and crunchy gummy bears. The Rushanes also sell their homemade fudge and caramel apples.
   So far, the couple’s major challenge has been figuring out what types of candy Bellingham customers desire, so they spent the first two months of business polling their customers, and Josh said they continue to take suggestions.
   Eventually, they want to open more stores, but are taking it slow for now.
   On a recent weekday afternoon, kids tug their moms around the store, pointing with animation at various bins of candy. Josh bounces Emilee as she gurgles and squeals.
   This is exactly the kind of scene Josh envisioned. He said the spirit of the store is always fun and family focused, and the best thing about it, he said, is that candy generally makes happy customers.
   “People that come in here aren’t grumpy,” he said.

Owners: Todd McCleve and David McInnis
Address: 960 Harris Ave., Suite 103
Phone number: 647-1196
Web address:
Startup date: Jan. 6
Square footage: 2,200

After buying an electric scooter for his son, Todd McCleve saw a business opportunity, and along with his partners, opened Chispa in Fairhaven; chispa means "spark" in Spanish.

    Alabama Hill is not the easiest area for an early morning paper route.
   That is what Todd McCleve and his son discovered last year after delivering papers up and down the hill for several months. At the time, McCleve began driving his son house-to-house at 4 a.m., but gas prices were steadily rising. And so McCleve decided to invest in an energy-efficient electric scooter for his son, which proved so successful it sparked a business idea.
   McCleve opened Chispa — which means “spark” in Spanish — in Fairhaven at the beginning of the year. The scooter retail, rental and service shop, located in Harris Square, is actually the brainchild of three partners whose company, Chispa Consulting, is aimed at starting businesses, consulting with business owners to improve their market or providing venture capital.
   The three partners include McCleve, Alex Linde, and former PRWeb owner David McInnis. McCleve has a background in international marketing, Linde in accounting, and McInnis is the man behind the funding. The three friends got together last year to brainstorm their first idea, which became Chispa.
   McCleve is the project manager for the store, while Linde works on a rapid prototyping business in Utah.
   While researching electric scooters for his son, McCleve discovered a brand called eGO, but there were no nearby eGO dealerships, and now the scooters make up a large portion of Chispa’s inventory.
   He also decided to sell and rent Segways.
   “They are both green, electric and environmentally friendly,” he said.
   The only problem with eGOs and Segways is that they don’t go very fast — up to 25 miles per hour for the eGOs and only 12 miles per hour for the Segways.
   So McCleve also added some gas-powered scooters to the fray.
   Inside the streamlined space on Harris Avenue, brightly colored scooters proudly line the walls and smiling salespeople scurry around.
   McCleve said he wants his store’s emphasis to be on energy efficiency, but also on fun. His store’s manager, Kris O’Hare, is taking over most of the day-to-day operations, which include party rentals and Segway historic tours of the city, in addition to sales and service, while McCleve readies himself to move on to Chispa Consulting’s next project — either a restaurant or a charter service.
   But for now, he’s enjoying the green ride that began on Alabama Hill.
   “I feel lucky to be in Bellingham, where, in general, people feel they need to be as environmentally friendly as they can,” he said.

Ace/E-Manifest Solutions
Owner: Ryan Salas-Mitchell
Address: 1321 King St., Suite 1
Phone number: 738-2221
E-mail address:
Startup date: Nov. 1
Square footage: 850

Ryan Salas-Mitchell is plotting world domination for his new company, Ace/E-Manifest Solutions, on King Street. The company provides truckers with electronic manifests for border crossings.

    Ryan Salas-Mitchell and his two employees have kept a running game of Risk on top of a card table in their King Street office for two months.
   It’s a sign of Salas-Mitchell’s competitive spirit and his desire to dominate the world of trucking e-manifests. So far, he knows of only four other companies in the United States that have pounced on recent post-9/11 Federal legislation.
   The law, which went into effect in January, mandates that trucking companies make their manifests electronically available to Homeland Security border agents, so they can scan them at U.S. border crossings.
   Salas-Mitchell’s route to this point began seven years ago, when his proclivity to organization and ability to see all the various steps in a process led him to be promoted from a seasonal cruise ship supply warehouse worker to a full-time manager.
   “Organization and the ability to lay out the next step came easily to me,” he said.
   He worked at several warehouses over the next few years forwarding freight, working in accounts payable, freight law and freight tracking.
   When he realized everything at the border was going electronic, and that most of the truck drivers being required to send e-manifests had little experience with computers, he knew a very large niche was about to open up.
   “I thought, you’re going to try to apply new technology to an older generation, most of whom are on the road five to six days a week and aren’t that tech savvy?” he said.
   Now, Salas-Mitchell’s client list is snowballing. Every week he adds one or two more.
   He provides his clients with a manifest template they fill out and fax back to him, which he then converts to an electronic format and forwards on to various border crossings and ports of entry into the United States, including Whatcom County, San Diego, Ontario, Detroit and New York.
   Salas-Mitchell has grand plans for the business, to make it grow or eventually to sell it. After all, the driven, young entrepreneur said he has six other business ideas he would like to pursue.
   But for now, the e-manifest business is keeping him busy.
   “This is a service that is not going away,” he said.



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