The Buzz


Bellwether Gate moves forward

Developers for the proposed Bellwether Gate project on the Bellwether Peninsula presented a conceptual site plan and building design at a June Port of Bellingham work-study session.

The conceptual design includes the possibility for four to five new mixed-use buildings ranging in size from a three-story 12,000-square-foot building to a four-story, 86,331-square-foot building. The construction schedule is in negotiations.

Earlier this year the port’s Board of Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding with the developers, Bellwether Gate LLC, which has the same principals as Ebenal Co., including developer Dave Ebenal.

If a final agreement is approved, Bellwether Gate would pay the port nearly $3 million for an 80-year lease for the land. Bellwether Gate also would be required to construct additional underground and above-ground parking.

Bellwether Gate, which is phase two of the Bellwether on the Bay development, if approved, would include retail shops, offices, businesses and between 10 to 40 residential units. The maximum height of proposed structures would not exceed 50 feet above ground, which is shorter than the tallest buildings already constructed on the Bellwether Peninsula.

Because the Bellwether Gate development is different than the initial planned concept for Bellwether on the Bay, approved by the city in 1998, the Bellwether Gate proposal will require a new planned-development permit. Some of the differences between the Bellwether Gate proposal and the initial Bellwether on the Bay planned concept include a different site plan configuration and changes to proposed height limits.

Once input is received from neighborhood meetings, the port will submit an application for city review. Pending the outcome of the city’s permit process, port staff will finalize lease negotiations with the developer and present a final lease and development agreement to the Port Commission for their consideration. The final transaction likely will be presented to the Port Commission in the next 90-120 days.


Downtown salon to move and expand

Eva, an Aveda concept salon, will soon move to a new downtown location.

Owner Dyan Liden recently purchased a ground-floor commercial condo in the Morse Landing building at 112 E. Maple St. Her store is currently located at 1201 Cornwall Ave., across the street from the Shrimp Shack. She hopes to have the salon moved by September.

Liden said she thought it made sense to invest in commercial real estate, and the 1,700-square-foot space will allow her to greatly expand her services. She will add a complete spa and treatment room that will offer manicures, pedicures, massage, facials and skin treatments, as well as a steam and locker room. Liden said she will also expand her retail merchandise of Aveda products.

Liden started Eva nine years ago and this will be her salon’s third move to a new location. She currently has six employees, but will probably double that number with the addition of her new services.

The new space will also feature a rotating art gallery and will act as a showroom for Left Coast Furnishings, another downtown business. For more information, call Liden at 224-0248.


New digs for antique, consignment shops

Jeff Bassett and his partner Nancy Ernst had grown tired of commuting back and forth between their two stores, Consign Northwest and Diamond Antiques. So they decided to move the two shops into one space in the former Thiel Plumbing building at 1806 Cornwall Ave., although the stores will remain separate business entities.

Consign Northwest, currently located at 3096 Northwest Ave., in the Northwest Shopping Plaza, moved into the 4,000-square-foot space in the new building at the beginning of July. The store, which opened 3.5 years ago, sells consigned household furnishings, including furniture, kitchenware and artwork, but not appliances or electronics, Bassett said.

Their other store, Diamond Antiques, which has been open for five years at 1227 Cornwall Ave., will move into a 1,400-square-foot space in the new building at the end of July.

The new location will offer more space for both businesses, and will reduce the amount of drive time going back and forth between the two, Bassett said. The inventory for each store will remain the same, but Bassett said they will be able to offer more merchandise with the added space.

“We’ve just reached a point where we have to put people on hold to bring things in because we need more space to display it,” Bassett said. For more information, call 650-1177.


Bond company moves, wine bar expands

A-Ace Bail Bonds, located at 304 W. Champion St. for the last five years, is moving to a new location and expanding services.

Owner Barry Arps Sr. said the business is moving to the Haskell Business Park at 1301 Fraser St., Suite A3. The new 4,000-square-foot space will allow his company to add a new Ace Defendant Monitoring service, in which A-Ace, in conjunction with courts, monitors defendants with GPS-equipped ankle bracelets.

The company also added a service to install ignition interlock systems, which measure a driver’s blood alcohol level before they can start the engine, in vehicles of people convicted of driving under the influence. The new space has a special shop for this service.

Arps opened the business eight years ago after first running a private investigation firm. The business is family run with Arps’ wife and co-owner, Shirley Arps, who is a state-licensed qualified agent for bail bonds, and his grandson, Eric Arps, who is in charge of recovering clients who have jumped bail.

The Bellingham office has 13 employees and operates 21 licensed agents in Washington and Idaho. For more information, call 734-6000.

The Temple Bar, located next door at 306 W. Champion St., is expanding into the A-Ace Bail Bonds space.

Owner Chelsea Farmer said the bar, which sells wine and beer and light fare, needed more than its 745-square-feet of space. During weekend nights, especially, the bar’s tables tend to fill up. The new area will add another 650 square feet. She will also apply to sell liquor, in addition to beer and wine, at the bar.

Farmer bought The Temple Bar from its original owner, Liz Dean, in December 2003, after it had been open for two years.

“We’re a cozy little space,” Farmer said. “A place for people to meet that is an alternative to a high-end wine bar.”

Farmer said she found out the next-door space was available after returning from her first vacation since buying the business, and seized on the opportunity to expand there.

Her plan is to make the new area slightly different than the current bar area, adding more seating, cozy nooks and comfy chairs. She is hoping the expanded area will be open by October.


May Day Spa-Lon to open on Kellogg

Terrie May, a local hair stylist and permanent cosmetics specialist, is getting ready to open May Day Spa-Lon in the Blossom Commons shopping center this summer.

The salon and spa, located at 127 W. Kellog Road, will offer hair styling, manicures and pedicures, permanent cosmetics, and massage treatments. May described the salon and spa as an “in-between place — not a fast in-and-out salon, but more of a quick retreat.”

May is in the process of remodeling the 1,000-square-foot space and hopes to have the salon open in August. She will likely hire about five employees, she said.

May is an experienced cosmetologist, esthetician and permanent cosmetics specialist, and has been styling hair for 35 years. For more information, call 223-2384.


New optometrist brings vision to NW

A new optometry practice opened in the Northwest Shopping Center in June.

Dr. Spencer Young, previously an optometrist at LensCrafters in Bellis Fair mall, decided to open his own practice, Advanced Vision, at 3080 Northwest Ave., across the street from Yeager’s Sporting Goods. After completing an interior remodel of the space, the office opened June 4.

Spencer, who has practiced for 14 years, offers routine vision exams, exams for patients with specialized medical conditions such as cataracts and macular problems, and also uses advanced equipment for digital retina scans, which reduces the need for dilation.

Young said the 1,700-square-foot office has convenient parking, which he said is nice for his elderly patients. For more information, call 526-0075 or visit


ACB to remain in Fairhaven

Aluminum Chambered Boats is not relocating its facility in the Port of Bellingham-owned Fairhaven Marine Industrial Park to a county location, as reported in a June issue of the Whatcom Independent.

While the company is in the process of finding a location to build an additional 2,000-square-foot facility elsewhere, it intends to continue leasing its industrial park property from the port, said ACB President Tim Metz.

“I have told the port we are renewing our lease here for another year, which is the normal increment, and that we are looking to expand outside of Bellingham in addition to that,” Metz said. “We’ve pretty much decided on a location, but we’re not divulging it at this time.”

Shirley McFearin, real estate development manager for the port, confirmed that the port is in the process of negotiating a new lease with ACB, which has been located at its current space in the industrial park at 355 Harris Ave., suite 107 since 1999. The company’s current lease expires June 30. McFearin said she has also been in discussions with ACB about locating the new facility on a few port-owned locations.


All About Flowers blooms early

A new flower shop has blossomed in the same building as the Kwik Stop Market at 1400 W. Holly St.

Nadia Ghuman opened All About Flowers in early June — a month before she planned to because she said she found the perfect florist and didn’t want to lose her.

“I didn’t want to open my business on somebody that was not qualified,” Ghuman said.

Ghuman found a more-than-qualified florist in Gwen Samelson. Samelson recently relocated from Washington, D.C., where she said she worked for Al and Tipper Gore as their full-time florist.

Samelson said she moved to Bellingham to be closer to her mother and is working with Ghuman to help establish the new business.

The Kwik Stop Market shrunk its store to accommodate All About Flowers. The building has a new door and wall separating the two businesses.

Ghuman said the location is perfect with its proximity to three churches and a funeral home.


Hardlines on the move

Six years of steady growth have prompted Hardlines, a Bellingham-based Web and IT services company, to move operations to a new site at 510 Carolina St. in the Sunnyland Neighborhood. The company was previously located in the Ohio Street Workstudios, at 112 Ohio St., suite 107.

President Aaron Booker said his company’s five employees outgrew the 300-square-foot space on Ohio Street.

“We were jammed in there like sardines,” he said. The new space is about 1,300 square feet and has a conference room. “The new space will allow us to further expand and develop services, including seminars and workshops, that are of interest to our clients, and the community.”

Founded in 2001, Hardlines provides Web hosting, Web casting, consulting, and IT support. While the company’s core client base is in Northwest Washington state, Hardlines has been used to provide Web casting and event IT services across the United States and the world, including recent assignments in Japan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. For more information, call 738-7168 or visit


A spicy month for Callaloo

Taking over Callaloo Carribean Kitchen has proved to be a bit more difficult than Jaime Hernandez expected.

Hernandez took over day-to-day operations at the restaurant, located at 1212 N. State St., in June after entering into a purchase-and-sale agreement with the restaurant’s owner, Greg Daane. The agreement enables Hernandez to manage the restaurant while paying its owed taxes and debts until the deal closes. The amount of taxes and debts paid during Hernandez’s management will be taken off the final purchase price.

However, on June 7, the restaurant was forced to close because its business and liquor licenses had expired.

Hernandez and Daane reopened the restaurant at the end of the month after reapplying for the business and liquor licenses. Hernandez said the original deal will continue as planned, and expects it to close in the next few weeks.

Hernandez said he intends to overhaul the restaurant’s operations, including streamlining the kitchen and bar processes and point-of-sale system, managing profit and loss and working on the bookkeeping. Under Hernandez’s ownership, the restaurant will retain its name, interior and menu.

Hernandez also owns Health and Exercise Prescriptions, a personal training business located on Holly Street. For more information, e-mail Hernandez at


Book Fare, Pizzazza get new owners

Fred and Lynn Berman, owners of Pastazza, have sold Book Fare and Pizzazza about two years after opening the businesses.

Will Annett took over Pizzazza located in Yorky’s Gas Station & Market in Fairhaven April 1 after being a manager of the store for nearly a year. Lynn said Annett had been looking for a small business to run and has worked with the Bermans for the past six months on the transition. She said Annett has extensive restaurant management experience and is a skilled chef.

“He seemed like the perfect fit for the next person to take over the reigns who can take the business to the next level,” she said.

Rachel Vasak is taking over Book Fare, located inside Village Books in Fairhaven. Vasak has been program director for the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association for the past 10 years. A Whatcom County native, Vasak was raised on an organic farm and has known the Bermans for 12 years.

“Rachel wants to continue on with the philosophies we had of buying locally, using sustainable products and how we treat our employees,” Lynn said. “She’s going to be able to expand on what we started there.”

Fred took on a job with the Washington State Department of Agriculture about a year and a half ago, which Lynn said has taken him out of the restaurants. She said the huge responsibility and burden of running three restaurants was too much after a year and a half, leading to the decision to sell two and focus on Pastazza.


Speed Portraits open in Public Market

Phil Rose developed the idea for his new business, Speed Portraits, after The Picture People at Bellis Fair mall closed. He thought individuals and groups were in need of a fast, fun way to sit for photo portraits without having to schedule extended studio time or put down money before seeing and choosing photographs.

Rose proposed the Speed Portraits idea to Gary Holloway, owner and manager of the Bellingham Public Market, and quickly found himself a locally-owned, downtown venue with lots of parking to host Speed Portraits.

Speed Portraits, which features eight-minute maximum portrait photography sittings replete with lights and backdrops, takes place on the first Tuesday of every month, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Bellingham Public Market, located at 1530 Cornwall Ave. Customers pay for the shots they want and the sitting is free.

The first Speed Portrait session kicked off on June 5. Reservations for the service are welcome and drop-ins are encouraged, according to a press release. For more information, call Phil Rose Photography at 739-9067.


New business creates nature calendars

True Image Publishing, which creates nature-photography calendars for businesses and organizations, recently opened at the corner of Pole and Hannegan roads.

President Bob Lodder, a former manager at Premier Graphics in Bellingham, said the company develops calendars and planners that are personalized with an imprinted name and logo of a business or organization. He said the calendars are popular with real estate agents, banks and credit unions, as well as with nonprofit organizations sponsoring fundraisers.

The company has five employees and works with professional photographers in the Pacific Northwest, California and Texas to create the calendars.

Before starting the company with his partner, Barry Berends, Lodder worked for Premier Graphics for 15 years and True Image Publishing continues to have a print partnership with Premier.

For more information, call 318-9100.


James back at Bay Point

After a 12-year break from the business, Deb James has bought back into Bay Point Plumbing & Heating, the business she started with Gary Jones in 1989.

James left the business and Dennis Schwarze became Jones’ new partner in 1995. At the time, James left to start a medical billing service and then worked as a medical office manager until recently, she said. She decided to take over Schwarze’s share of the business because she wanted a change.

“I was ready for a new challenge in my life,” she said.

Bay Point Plumbing & Heating, located at 4335 Aldrich Road, offers all aspects of plumbing services for residential and commercial buildings, excluding new construction.

Back on the job, James is in charge of managing the books and the inside office work while Jones continues to manage the company’s 10 employees.

Recently, the business added a scrap-metal recycling program as well as a new website,, with “meet the team” photos and bios. For more information, call 734-0770.


Drapery store opens curtains downtown

American Drapery and Blind, a fixture at 1429 N. State St. for 30 years, recently relocated to Railroad Avenue.

The business moved from State Street, near the Harley-Davidson of Bellingham dealership, to 1431 Railroad Ave., next to Cicchitti’s Pizza.

The new location is a smaller space — 2,500 square feet instead of the 4,000-square-foot space on State Street — but features a newer, nicely painted showroom area and better parking than the older building, which was constructed in 1922, branch manager Jennifer Dutson said.

American Drapery and Blind is based in Renton, and has locations in Ballard, Redmond, Spokane and Portland, in addition to the Bellingham store. Dutson described the business as a full-service window-covering company that caters to custom homes and retail and commercial establishments, and carries everything from stock product for rentals to window coverings for multi-million-dollar homes.

The store also offers an in-home design service where a designer or decorator will visit clients’ homes for a free consultation and bid. For more information, call 676-1121.


Meridian sports grill to expand

Patty and Carl Schuessler, owners of Extremes Sports Grill, are about to expand their family friendly restaurant into the former Bistecca Italian Steakhouse space.

The Schuesslers opened Extremes, located at 4156 Meridian St., last August, and Bistecca, their upstairs neighbor, has been closed for about a year, Patty said. The expansion will add 40 to 50 new seats as well as a patio area with about eight tables, she said. While they are still in negotiations with the space’s management company, they hope to be moved into the space in a couple of weeks, Patty said.

The expanded area will also have a small additional bar and will offer space to be used for business meetings and other events.

Extremes focuses on being a family friendly sports grill, with 19 TVs to watch extreme, as well as traditional, sports, Patty said. The menu includes casual fare such as pizzas, calzones, steaks, sandwiches and salads. For more information, call 647-7066.


New marketing firm to help healthy lifestyle companies

Matt Barnhart, owner of local marketing firm, MB Design, launched a new strategic marketing company, called Pivot Lab, in July.

The new firm focuses on consulting with companies that enhance healthy lifestyles on developing communications strategies. The target clients are companies that focus on the environment, healthy activities and communities, and that want help strategically differentiating themselves from their competition through marketing, Barnhart said.

Barnhart said MB Design had already been working with companies on this type of marketing, and decided to start a new firm specifically addressing the service.

For example, MB Design worked with the Northwest Clean Air Agency when they were called the Northwest Air Pollution Authority. Barnhart’s company suggested the name change because the original one had negative connotations. It also worked with the organization on using images of clean, attractive scenery in its marketing to show what clean air could produce, instead of focusing on negative images of pollution.

MB Design, which Barnhart started in 1996, is based in Bellingham and also has an office in Seattle. The firm hired two new employees for Pivot Lab, bringing its total number of employees to six. Pivot Lab will operate out of both offices, but is primarily based in Seattle. The Bellingham office is located in the Ohio Street Workstudios at 112 Ohio St., Suite 101.

For more information, call 733-1692 in Bellingham, or the Seattle office at (206) 310-9399, or visit


Chamber tour to China revs up

The Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry will make its third and final Business Mission & Tour of China this October.

The tour includes visits to Beijing, Su Zhou, Hang Zhou and Shanghai with an option to tour Xi’An and the home of the Terra Cotta Warriors. For $1,499 for Chamber members, or $1,599 for nonmembers, travelers will be provided with roundtrip airfare, deluxe hotel accommodation, daily meals, English speaking tour guides, deluxe tour buses and much more, according to a press release.

To learn more about the tour, the Chamber of Commerce is holding an informational meeting Thursday, July 19 at 6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in downtown Everett. For more information call 734-1330.


Koi pond business swimming ahead

Kevin Vermillion recently opened Mud Pond Koi, a resource for gardeners seeking Koi fish for their ponds.

Vermillion said he became interested in raising Koi in “earth ponds” seven years ago, and last year decided to turn his hobby into a business. He now offers small and mature Koi fish in four mud ponds. His goal is to breed enough Koi in order to build up his offering of large, mature fish.

In addition to selling fish and offering pond-consulting services, Mud Pond Koi provides “growing out services” in its mud ponds.

“Koi grow faster and their colors become much richer when they grow in the clay of a mud pond,” Vermillion said. “The growing out service is ideal for people who want bigger fish, faster.”

The business is located in Lummi Nation, at 2636 Shorewood Lane. For more information, call Vermillion at (360) 758-2035.


Attorneys heading home again

The partners of Wayerski Zmoleck Injury Law Firm have purchased a new building at 1402 F St. and moved in last month.

Attorneys Kip Wayerski and Gerry Zmoleck had run their firm at 1334 King St., Suite 1, for 12 years, but had been looking for a location to buy for several years. Their new home on F St., known as the McCue House, is a “charming old house,” Wayerski said, where he and Zmoleck first practiced law together 12 years ago. Many of their current employees also worked in that location, so for much of the staff, the move will be like returning home, he said.

Wayerski Zmoleck focuses on personal injury, workers’ compensation and social security compensation claims. For more information, call 676-1448 or 1-800-865-7921.


Two ticket offices find new homes

The Whatcom Symphony Orchestra and the Bellingham Theatre Guild have relocated each of their ticket offices from Barkley Village.

The Whatcom Symphony Orchestra’s ticket office moved to 201 Grand Ave. on June 1 from the office at 2915 Newmarket St., Suite 104, which it shared with the Theatre Guild. The new space is being donated by Trillium Corp., which owns the building.

Executive Director Mary Kay Robinson said she likes the new location because it is in the “heart of the cultural district,” and near the Mount Baker Theatre, where the orchestra regularly performs.

The orchestra is set to begin its 33rd season in October. For more information, call 756-6752.

The Bellingham Theatre Guild relocated its ticket office from Barkley Village to its playhouse at 1600 H St. at the end of May, said Jeff Braswell, president of the board of directors. The ticket office was originally located at the playhouse before it moved to Barkley Village in 1999. For more information call 733-1811.
Ice-blasting shop freezes up new niche

Bill Finley’s new ice blasting business, West Coast Ice Blasting, uses dry ice to remove contaminants from surfaces.

In the process, dry ice is expelled from a machine at -110 degrees Fahrenheit to remove contaminants such as paint, grease, dirt, chemicals and polymers, tar and cement, graffiti and residues from fires and fire extinguishers. It can be used for a variety of applications, including log homes, building and disaster restoration, brick cleaning, vessels, docks and manufacturing equipment.

Regular blasting normally uses corn cobs, shot or sand, Finley said. Ice blasting is nontoxic, is less aggressive and damaging, and doesn’t require secondary cleanup, he said.

Finley said he is one of only three ice blasters in Washington as far as he knows. He started out restoring log homes and initially used corncob blasting to remove contaminants, before switching to ice blasting and creating the new business.
For more information, visit or call 933-4030.


Stable housing market reported so far

A stable housing market has developed in Whatcom County during the first half of this year, according to a real-estate report released July 5 by Lylene Johnson of The Muljat Group South office in Fairhaven.

The total number of residential units sold in the county during the first six months declined 5.4 percent to 1,307 in comparison to a year ago, according to Johnson. Both the median price ($293,694) and average price ($345,429) of sales in the county showed modest increases of 4.9 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.

“These numbers can be deceiving because the average home in Whatcom County hasn’t increased in price over the past year,” Johnson said in a press release. “It’s simply that more expensive homes are selling and that raises both the average and median prices.”

Bellingham is the only area in the county that has had more residential sales — 610, up 4.3 percent — in this year’s first half compared to 2006. Ferndale and Lynden are close to last year’s pace — down only 1.7 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively — but sales were off 13 percent in Sudden Valley and 19.8 percent in Birch Bay/Blaine.

The average time it takes to sell a house in the county now is more than three months — 99 days, up from 70 days in the first half of 2006. However, Johnson said there are two sides to that statistic.

“Price is the key to a sale, with 26 percent of all home sales in the county occurring within 30 days of the listing date and at 98.6 percent of the list price,” Johnson said. “On the other hand, 31.5 percent of housing sales took over 120 days and they sell at just 95.3 percent of the list price, not including any price reductions implemented since the house went on the market.

“The basics always stay the same: People want the best value for their money,” Johnson said. “When they recognize that value, houses can sell very quickly.”

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