The Buzz, April 2009


Photo by Isaac Bonnell

The Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED) hosted its annual Trade Week symposium at the Lakeway Inn on March 17. Presenters included Jim Pettinger from International Market Access in Ferndale and Cheryl Schell of the U.S. Commercial Service in Vancouver, B.C. After the luncheon, CTED representatives met with local business people like Mike Sommer and Will Huggett (center) of Alten Energy Solutions.


Greg Aanes Furniture and Western Solar
both move, expand

Greg Aanes Furniture, a local furniture manufacturer, has completed its move into an 8,000-square-foot manufacturing and showroom facility at 2109 Queen St. and Western Solar, a local provider of solar electric, solar hot water, and solar space heating systems, will move into the furniture maker’s old 4,000-square-foot location at 319 E. Champion St.

Greg Aanes, owner of Greg Aanes Furniture, said manufacturing chairs is about 95 percent of what the company does and the move will eventually allow him to expand in additional designs and types of furniture.

“Frankly, it was wearing on me that we did not have the capability for new designs or to expand into other furniture lines,” Aanes said.

Aanes said he moved the chair manufacturing side of his business to the Queen Street location in early 2008 and just recently moved over his office and showroom.

“This was a planned relocation and a planned design so that the shop is all one system, as opposed to the old location where everything just grew organically,” Aanes said.

Aanes admitted that now seems like a bad time to do an expansion, but his plans were already under way in August 2007—right before he noticed the beginnings of the recession. While the recession has slowed buildout of the new location, Aanes remains upbeat.

“I’m optimistic,” Aanes said. “I am a businessman. If I didn’t have that quality, I wouldn’t be doing this.”

Aanes said he is also excited about Western Solar moving into his old location.

“They’ve got some cool ideas over there,” Aanes said. “Rather than just have an office, they want to actually have some visibility and a showroom where people can come see and get educated about what they’re doing.”

Jack Hardy, president of Western Solar, said his company is working to move and keep up with growing demand at the same time. He said he hopes to be open on Champion Street by April 15 with a grand opening and open house toward the end of April.

Hardy, who has been running Western Solar out of his home for the past six years, said business expansion is driving his move.

“Right now renewable energy is a growth industry, whereas other industries are contracting,” Hardy said.

He said the company needed more warehouse space for solar equipment, expanded offices and a showroom to display different solar energy setups. The company will also benefit from the increased visibility, Hardy said.

“A lot of people are getting interested in solar energy these days,” Hardy said, “because the prices for some solar equipment have come down and incentives have gone up, so it is much more affordable.”

For more information about Greg Aanes Furniture, call 733-9101 or visit For more information about Western Solar, call 319-6273 or visit


Plum Hair Studio opens on Cornwall

Whatcom County natives Glenda Berendsen and Amy Hemnes have teamed up to open Plum Hair Studio, a full-service salon, at 1305 Cornwall Ave.

Before deciding to open their own downtown salon, Berendsen and Hemnes studied extensive and advanced styling in New York City and worked at another salon in Bellingham.

“We love being downtown,” Berendsen said. “There are a lot of established businesses nearby and everyone has been so friendly to us.”

Britt Allbaugh, stylist and board-certified colorist, will also join Berendsen and Hemnes at the new salon.

Plum offers “MOP” Modern Organic Products, which are sulfate-free, naturally derived, organic styling products. The salon is currently seeking two more stylists and is open Tuesday through Saturday, by appointment, with walk-ins welcome.

For more information, call 733-2562 or visit their new website at


Supon’s Thai to open second restaurant

Supon’s Thai Cuisine, located at 1213 Dupont St., has bought the Lemon Grass Cafe at 111 N. Samish St.

Supon’s owner, Sengnin Sisouk, said the purchase closed at the end of March and she plans to re-open the restaurant on Samish in April under the name Supon’s Thai Kitchen. The Samish location is much larger than the Dupont location and can seat up to 80 people.

The original restaurant on Dupont has been open for eight years. For more information, call 734-6838.


Safe & Easy Recycling moves, adds retail sales

Safe & Easy Recycling has moved its Bellingham location and expanded into retail sales of refurbished computers and other electronic equipment.

Effective April 1, Safe & Easy Recycling’s Bellingham store moved from 2001 Iowa St. Suite F to a new space at 4131 Hannegan Road Suite 102, just north of the East Bakerview Road intersection and across the road from a Bank of the Pacific branch. Safe & Easy Recycling also has a store at 1770 Front St. in Lynden.

Carl Lundgren, owner of Safe & Easy Recycling, said the new Bellingham location’s better visibility is ideal for customers seeking to buy refurbished desktop and laptop computers, plasma and LCD televisions and electronic peripherals at a fraction of the cost for new products.

“While many businesses may consider computers obsolete after two to three years, they can be ideal for families and nonprofit organizations after being stripped of any business data and refurbished,” Lundgren said.

Safe & Easy Recycling, which opened in April 2008, is one of five Whatcom County participants in the E-Cycle Washington program. Households, small businesses, schools, small governments and nonprofit organizations can recycle desktop and laptop computers, monitors and televisions free of charge at Safe & Easy Recycling and other qualified businesses in this state-sponsored program.

Although businesses with more than 50 employees aren’t eligible for the E-Cycle Washington program, Safe & Easy can reduce their recycling costs through a new Buy-Back program. Safe & Easy will give large businesses credit for recycling newer desktop and laptop computers as well as other specified equipment.

Safe & Easy Recycling is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays in Lynden. For more information, call 715-EASY (3279) or visit


dELia’s opening in Bellis Fair Mall

The national clothing retailer dELia’s is planning to open a store this summer in the Bellis Fair Mall.

The company recently applied for a permit to build out Suite 330 across from Build A Bear Workshop. Construction on the 3,500-square-foot space will not likely begin until June and is estimated to cost $175,000, according to permit data. Bellis Fair general manager Dennis Curtis said the store could open in August.

dELia’s carries apparel, accessories and swimwear for young women ages 12 to 19. This will be the company’s second store in Washington. For more information, visit


Lex Bannister Fitness moves to new space

Lex Bannister Fitness, which opened Jan. 5 in North Coast Gymnastics Academy, is moving into its own space down the street at 1420 Meador Ave. Suite 101.

The 2,000-square-foot space is being outfitted with indoor artificial turf that will be used during cross-training exercises.

“We put the same exact turf in there that is in Qwest Field,” said co-owner Joy Rustia. “We want to make it feel like you are walking into a football arena.”

The fitness studio will have a grand opening in the new location April 18. For more information, call (360) 747-3837 or visit


Print company opens in Ferndale

North County Printing has opened for business at 2013 Main St. in Ferndale.

The company offers digital color printing services for businesses and individuals and specializes in large format projects such as posters, banners and signs, said co-owner Seth Murphy, who also owns ioCreative in Ferndale.

“We’ve always handled the short-run printing for ioCreative, my marketing company,” Murphy said. “But seeing as there are not a lot of printing options for companies based in north Whatcom County without going into Bellingham, we wanted to open it up for a wider audience.”

North County Printing is a joint venture of Foxwood North and ioCreative. For more information, call (360) 384-4640.


Lucky Bail Bonds opens

Local bail bondsman, Eric Arps has opened Lucky Bail Bonds with a 900-square-foot office at 98 Central Ave.

Arps, who has been a bail bondsman for the past six years, said that Lucky Bail Bonds will offer better services because of his previous experience.

“People want great customer service when they need a bail bond company and they also want someone who has a good working relationship with the courts, attorneys and other bail bond companies,” Arps said. “I’ve got all of that and I’m dedicated, honest and reliable.”

Arps said in the bail bond business, everyday is different and he is excited to get to work.

“It’s just nice to help people out and get them out of jail,” Arps said.

Arps said he is current on all applicable laws and regulations and is a registered Washington State Bail Bond Agent. For more information, call 734-3503.


Dog on Fire opens in Fairhaven

Dog on Fire, a new computer repair business, opened March 1 at 1001 Larrabee Ave.

Owner Justin Vail opened the business after the local Circuit City closed, where he was the lead technician for their computer repair service called Firedog. Vail offers free diagnostics, software installations and networking. He also frequently updates a blog about common computer problems and how people can fix these problems themselves.

For more information, call Dog On Fire at 1-360-202-5560 or visit


The Johnson Team moves to Muljat Group main office

The Johnson Team of real estate agents, a cooperative group of agents who work within The Muljat Group, is moving April 20 from its Fairhaven office at 1215 Old Fairhaven Pkwy, which it has operated since 2001, to the main office of The Muljat Group at 510 Lakeway Drive in Bellingham.

“We’re moving to increase our focus on buyers and sellers by consolidating some administrative functions,” said Lylene Johnson, The Johnson Team’s managing broker. “By spending fewer hours on office management, we’ll continue to provide clients the best in service, marketing and research. There are great opportunities now in Whatcom County real estate and we want our focus to be on helping our clients in the market.”

The Johnson Team includes Lylene, husband Rich, agents Mike Bredeson and Graham Johnson and administrative specialist Fawn Macaras. It has over 70 years of experience in Whatcom County’s real estate market.

For more information, call The Johnson Team at 527-8766 or visit


Fairhaven Shipyards adding up to 90 employees

Puglia Engineering’s Fairhaven Shipyard, located at 201 Harris Ave., was approved by the Port of Bellingham on Tuesday to expand into the former Arrowac Fisheries space. Arrowac closed it’s facility in November after 30 years in Bellingham.

“Although it is unfortunate to see a long-term business such as Arrowac Fisheries close their doors here in Fairhaven, it is proving to be a blessing for us,” said Neil Turney, president of Puglia Engineering, in a press release. “With the recent expansion of our services and capabilities here at the shipyard, our need for additional office and shop space would be getting critical in the near future. We are very fortunate that this space immediately adjacent to our facility became available.”

The expansion coincides with the addition of a second and larger dry dock, the Faithful Servant, which the company bought from China for about $12 million. The company will also be hiring about 90 new employees this year for supervisory and estimating positions.

“We applaud Puglia Engineering for moving forward with its expansion during a time when new family-wage jobs are essential,” said Commission President Scott Walker in a press release. “Puglia is in a very competitive shipyard market and has made significant investments in its operations so that it can serve a greater diversity of ships.”

For more information, call Fairhaven Shipyard at 647-0080 or visit


Carquest closes downtown parts store

Carquest Auto Parts, located downtown at 405 E. Holly St. across from the Community Food Co-op, closed its doors on Friday.

Manager John Combel said the decision to close the store came down from the corporate office that afternoon. “Things are tight, with the economy being what it is,” Combel said. “We’re going to be here for a few weeks doing inventory, but we’re closed for business.”

The Carquest in Lynden was not affected by the corporate decision because it is an independent store, said owner Tom Zylstra. Combel said he has been in contact with Zylstra and is recommending that his clients go there for their auto part needs.

For more information, call the Lynden store at 354-4468.


The Blend returns to N. State Street

A downtown coffee stand is making a comeback.

Nearly two years after the City Blend Espresso drive-through was removed from the corner of N. State and E. Magnolia streets, owners Peter and Jami Harrison have brought the coffee stand back with a new name, The Blend.

Located at 1330 N. State St., the site was once slated for a six-story mixed-use building. Those plans have since fallen through and the coffee stand is back where it once was.

“There is a very long, difficult story as to where we went and how we came back, but right now we’re just focusing on winning back all of our old regular customers and doing what we can to attract new ones,” said Jami Harrison in an e-mail.

To read previous BBJ articles about the coffee stand, visit our Web site


Saturna Capital applies for remodel, expansion

Saturna Capital, a local financial management company, has applied to the city of Bellingham for design review approval of a proposed remodel of the business’s entry and an 800-square-foot expansion at its location at 1300 N. State St. As part of the remodel, the business would also repave, secure and landscape the interior plaza.

Jane Carten, executive vice president at Saturna Capital, said new hires and expansion of the business are driving the changes.

Carten said the remodel would enclose some areas that were previously exposed, so while the business would gain 800 square feet, the building’s footprint would not change. The company plans to build a new reception area and reconfigure the offices to bring some of their financial analysts closer to the entry.

“We hope to make it a nicer place for our employees and customers and hope it’s nice for the rest of downtown as well,” Carten said.

The city’s Design Review Board held a public meeting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, in the City Council chambers at City Hall to discuss this proposed project.

For more information about this proposal, contact Brian Smart at 778-8355.


Cindy’s Salon moves to King Street

Cindy’s Salon has moved from its downtown location and is now located inside Sunshine Salon at 1326 King St.

The salon had been located at 1300 N. State St. near Saturna Capital, but moved recently because of upcoming renovations to that building. Owner Cindy Jancovic said she had been in that space for the past 13 years.

For more information, call 671-9588.


Former Bean Blossom to become Supreme
Bean Coffee Cafe

Becky and Vince Mulcahy have purchased the 1200-square-foot Bean Blossom drive-through coffee stand and cafe at 1205 Washington St. at the corner of Elm and Broadway streets with plans to rename the business the Supreme Bean Coffee Cafe.

Becky said she, her husband and five kids moved to Ferndale three years ago from Bothell to escape the corporate grind. However, Becky said the couple has wanted to own a coffee business for past 10 or 12 years.

“We love coffee and we love people,” Becky said. “It’s perfect.”

Becky said her husband, Vince, was a commercial fisherman in Kodiak, Alaska, for many years and they want their cafe to have a distinctly Northwest marine décor with art from Northwest artists, crab pots and hand-carved wooden fish sculptures.

Becky said she is also excited about carrying local products from Ferndale’s Cupcake Lady, Suzanne’s Bakery, Stilby’s barbecue sauce and Hammerhead Coffee Roasting.

“I love the whole local thing,” she said.

The Mulcahys are still currently running the business as Bean Blossom until they get their new signage in a few weeks. Becky said the business didn’t need any significant remodeling—just some cosmetic work to cement their decor.

“We’re doing things as we go because we’ve been pretty swamped, but we have been very well-received by the Columbia and Lettered Streets neighborhoods,” Becky said.

For more information, call 647-1643 or visit


New Taqueria to open near Sehome

A new Mexican restaurant is planning to open at 505 32nd St. Suite 102 in early April.

Owners Ken and Angelica Selvidge just moved back to Whatcom County after running their restaurant, Mi Casa Taqueria, for several years in Spokane. The restaurant features classic tacos made with with handmade tortillas and fresh salsa, Ken said. The menu will also include other Mexican favorites such as burritos and enchiladas.

The 800-square-foot space will have limited seating and will cater toward grab-and-go lunches, Ken said.

For more information, call Ken Selvidge at (360) 540-7288.


Bodywalk Massage opens on Fraser Street

When Danielle AhMaiua decided to relocate to Bellingham in September to pursue a graduate degree at Western, she also decided to take her business with her.

AhMaiua, a licensed massage practitioner, recently opened her massage studio called Bodywalk Massage at 1221 Fraser St. Suite E-1 near the Haskell Business Center. She had previously run the studio in Ashland, Ore. for three years.

Along with Swedish and therapeutic massage, AhMaiua specializes in a form of massage called Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy, where she uses her bare feet to relieve sore muscles.

For more information, call Danielle AhMaiua at 220-5280 or visit


Curves in Viking Plaza closes

A local franchise of the national women’s fitness company, Curves for Women, recently closed its location at 505 32nd St. Suite 108 in the Viking Plaza. The closure leaves one other Curves location at 3060 Northwest Drive.

According to the Washington Secretary of State Web site, the Viking Plaza location and the Northwest Drive location are owned by HPH, LLC and GRS Multi Enterprises, LLC respectively. Both corporations are managed by Wisconsin resident, Michelle Patwell.

Neither the owner nor the local management could be reached for comment.

Patwell established the Northwest Drive Curves location in 2001 and expanded to a second location in the Viking Plaza in 2004.


South Bellingham could see new B&B

Vidette Davoli-Raab is currently in talks with city planners to open a one-to two-bedroom bed and breakfast at 1500 Donovan Ave.

Davoli-Raab could not be reached. However, according to the public notice, the business would be in an “unobtrusive, upscale and tasteful home,” could accommodate a small indoor/outdoor wedding ceremony a couple times a year and would have adequate parking.

“The location would complement tourist activities a few blocks away in downtown Fairhaven,” said Davoli-Raab, according to the public notice.

Davoli-Raab also said the home makes for an excellent business location.

“I can only see a positive impact due to the positioning of the home on the lot and its bordering streets of Donovan Ave. and Old Fairhaven Parkway,” Davoli said in the public notice.

For more information about this process, contact Bellingham planner Jackie Lynch at 778-8350.


Business groups offer free workshops

“Keeping Local Business Strong” is the theme of a series of free workshops that started March 19.

The city of Bellingham — along with the Center for Economic Vitality (CEV), the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, the Economic Development Council, Sustainable Connections, and the Technology Alliance Group — is hosting the morning workshops on the third Thursday of each month, from March through August.

The first session focused on a business wellness check and presenters included George Brown of Peoples Bank and Tom Dorr of CEV. The meetings run from 8 a.m to 9:30 a.m at the Mount Baker Theatre’s Walton Theatre Room.

Future workshop topics are posted on the Web sites of participating organizations. For more information, call the city at 778-8100.


Veritas Homes opens

The recent launch of Lynden-based Veritas Homes is giving northwest Washington property owners new housing options.

Veritas Homes, owned by Aaron Apps, produces fully customizable, park-model homes. These homes have a footprint of up to 400 square feet with an optional loft that can add nearly 200 additional square feet.

A feature of these park-model homes is that they are classified as recreational vehicles, Apps said. This often allows them to be used where a building permit could not otherwise be obtained, such as along streams or close to other bodies of water or wetlands. They also may be legal to place on properties with other existing buildings, such as the addition of a “mother-in-law” suite.

“These homes are ideal for vacation properties, ski cabins, rentals or permanent residences – they truly are a home away from home,” said Apps, who has 10 years of experience in construction-related businesses.

Unlike many other park models on the market, Veritas Homes builds only the highest quality structures, Apps said. “These park models are built using the same stick framing techniques as normal residential construction,” he said. “We build them with standard 2×6 walls and the highest level of insulation, just like any other home.”

“Owners can also customize them by choosing the floor plan, fixtures, cabinets, flooring, roofing, trim, windows, decks and appliances that they want us to install,” Apps added. “All the appliances are full-sized and we can offer anything that you have seen in a traditional home. The options are literally limitless. There is nothing RV about the way we build them except for the RV classification.”

In addition to custom requests, Veritas Homes also offers pre-designed plans already approved by the state Department of Labor & Industries that don’t require a local building permit, which will save time for customers.

Each home is individually hand-built in a 4,500-square-foot facility on Badger Road in Lynden and can be delivered anywhere in the United States. Construction is typically completed within five to eight weeks after owners approve final plans. Models start as low as $50,000. For more information, call Veritas Homes at 510-8273 or e-mail


Whispering Sisters open for elderly care

Whispering Sisters, a new elderly care business, opened recently at 1717 Edwards Court.

The business takes a different perspective on home health care, though sisters Patricia Davidson and Becky Homewood offer daily care for elderly people out of their own home. They came up with the idea for the business while considering how to care for their mother, Elizabeth.

“With our generation, the baby boomers, we have the phenomenon of having our parents live longer, but we’re still working and paying off our mortgages,” Davidson said.

Thus she and and her sister decided to offer care for older or disabled women who cannot be left alone during the day, but do not require 24-hour nursing care. Their 3,300-square-foot home offers lots of room for entertainment and a wide view of Bellingham and the bay.

Both Davidson and Homewood are Registered Nursing Assistants and come from a background in home health care services. For more information, call 656-5147 or visit


Federal stimulus money reaches Whatcom County

Whatcom County is slated to receive more than $5.9 million as part of federal stimulus money that is being distributed around the country. Below is a list of where the money has been allocated:

  • $3.3 million for Bellingham International Airport as part $44 million from the Federal Aviation Administration to modernize airport facilities in Washington.
  • $934,586 for the Bellingham Whatcom Housing Authority as part of $40 million for public housing improvement projects in the state.
  • $780,100 for the City of Bellingham, $470,000 for Whatcom County, $238,300 for the Lummi Tribe, $62,900 for the Nooksack Tribe as part of $58 million for energy efficiency improvements throughout the state.
  • $200,823 for Interfaith Community Health Center as part of $10 million for community health centers in Washington.

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