Category Archives: Business

What Happened to Espresso Gone Wild?

I talked to the coffee stand‘s owner and the property owner. Didn’t find out much about the sudden disappearance of the stand in Gorst.
I did check with the state’s Department of Revenue. No back taxes owing.

Today I wrote a story on the little I know. It should be up on the Kitsap Sun’s Web site soon.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap reporter

May 11: Here’s the link to the story.

Bremerton Needs Retail and Other Enlightenments

So a week ago Bellevue developer comes to this side of Lake Washington to tell us Bremerton needs retail.

The commenters to the story first responded, “Duh.”

Here are some other observations worth noting:

Silverdale doesn’t have a city hall.
Poulsbo needs parking.
Port Orchard is hilly.
Bainbridge Island is still part of this county.
The heat was hot.

Commenters to the story also complained about the parking, with responses that Kmart had plenty of free parking, and then arguments that downtown needs people for retail to survive.

None of it is wrong, and Kemper Freeman’s point about Tacoma is perhaps worth considering. Nonetheless, does his take mean Bremerton should have put retail in first. Well then, how do you do that? I think the whole point of these parks and conference centers and tunnels and new bridges and hotels and government centers and infrastructure tax breaks and property tax breaks and road paving and condo building and Bellevue developer wooing and new marinas and fish and fisherman statues and parking committees is designed to create what?

It is designed to create the kind of crowd I saw the other day at 2 Blocks Up Cafe at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Fourth Street. On Wednesday during a break in union negotiations four of us headed over to the cafe for sandwiches and strategizing and found that we had to sit outside the restaurant. The place was packed.

I don’t know what accounted for the rush that day, and I don’t know if that’s a regular thing. You can’t create conclusions from a single observation, try as story commenters might.

Nonetheless, what I have seen is a host of downtown merchants who are believers in downtown Bremerton. Boston’s Pizza is doing great night business now because of the Fairfield Inn.

Bremerton has not turned the corner it needs to for downtown to be considered a success, but despite the economic downturn the momentum hasn’t stopped. At least, it hasn’t as far as I can tell from my casual observations.

One more thing:

Dirt is dirty.

PO Tourism Committee Morphs Toward Economic Development

April 22: Oops sorry, wrong poll .The wrong poll was displayed with this post since yesterday. The correct poll is up now. CTH

The time has come, members of Port Orchard City Council’s tourism committee said Tuesday, for the committee to expand its duties to include economic development.

To date, the committee has focused mainly on working with the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce, nonprofits and local businesses on special events that draw visitors, such as the city’s Chimes and Lights Festival, the Seagull Calling Contest and last summer’s Cedar Cove Days.

Paying more attention to economic development would be a natural progression, said committee chairman Jerry Childs. Committee members, including Childs, Jim Colebank and Fred Chang, have been looking at cities like Poulsbo and Leavenworth as models.

Childs said the committee would coordinate with Mayor Lary Coppola, who so far has been the city’s designee and spokesman in attempts to attract new business. Coppola has already hosted some focus groups with selected business owners.

One of the committee’s ideas is to host an economic development page on the city’s Web site with information on permitting and other resources related to economic development. The Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce has a resource page for prospective and current businesses, but, said Chang, it’s not the committee’s intention to reinvent the wheel.

“I don’t think we intend to duplicate anything that’s already being done,” said Chang, speaking as an individual committee member and not for the committee. “If we do a website, we’d want to plug a gap where there is one. It’s certainly not intended as a slap to anyone.”

One business owner willing to take a gamble on Port Orchard is Melinda Brown and her partner Shane Makoviney, who will open Melinda Lee’s at 810 Bay Street on May 1. Shane is a clock repairman; Melinda is an artist and gardener. Their store will offer a potpourri of artwork, garden starts, gifts and sundry supplies that would be useful to boaters.

Lee is bullish on Port Orchard. She sees a positive momentum in the downtown mix of stores despite the economy. “We love Bay Street and believe in it and believe in what it could be,” she said.

Of course Port Orchard business extends outside the downtown district, and the committee will pay attention to those folks as well, Chang said.

Colebank said, “it’s not as important to draw new business as it is to keep our current businesses happy.”

So what should city government do to make the city a business friendly place? Parking you say? Right, it’s on their to-do list. What are your other beefs, worries or needs? Take the survey on the homepage.

Silverdale Just Got a Little More Posh

Brynn Grimley writes:

Well since Henry’s out on vacation this week, and Gardner has decided to be sick, it looks like I’m left to keep you entertained. (You can yell at “Hank” and Gardner later about this).

But I digress.

As you may have seen, Silverdale’s Kitsap Mall could be home to a Gene Juarez Salons and Spas. The company hasn’t filed any permits yet with the county and is still in negotiations with the mall. But in a county meeting Wednesday, Department of Community Development Director Larry Keeton said the salon has inquired about a commercial tenant improvement permit to move into the mall.

Keeton admitted he didn’t know much about the hair salon, but when he mentioned the name my ears immediately perked up (I admit, I was writing a Kitsap Caucus blog entry during this portion of the meeting).

County commissioner Steve Bauer jokingly asked if Trader Joe’s would follow and my follow up to his question was “What about Nordstrom?” (Heck I’ll even “settle” for a Nordstrom Rack). Sadly neither company has expressed the interest.

But Gene Juarez has, and that’s a good thing. It shows there’s a shift in the way Kitsap is regarded by regional retailers, County commissioner Josh Brown pointed out.

For those unfamiliar with Gene Juarez, read Rachel Pritchett’s story here, it gives a bit of history.

From a personal experience I can say this: While in high school Gene Juarez was the salon everyone went to to get their hair done for formal dances. My first-ever “up do” was done by a stylist at the salon’s Northgate Mall location. It was for my school’s winter formal (Winter Ball) and I was going with the then-love of my life. The stylist gave me the best modern French twist adaptation I have ever seen. (It was even better than my hairstyle from my wedding). No matter how hard I tried to get that replicated, no one could ever match her styling.

Again, I digress. (See what happens when Henry and Gardner leave me alone to fill the blog? I start rambling).

Anyway, if the salon does come to Silverdale, the mall just got a little more posh.

Signs of the Times: Because Bremerton Demands More

Apparently the old girls weren’t good enough for the discriminating tastes of Sixth and Naval.

Bremerton Coffee

Yes, I know this is trite and sophomoric, but I couldn’t resist the low-hanging fruit. Besides, that’ll teach Gardner to go soft on Port Orchard next time he passes an “Etterman Jackets” sign.

I am on vacation this week, riding herd on the family member we call “El Nino,” who is out on spring break. Keep an eye on Grimley and Gardner for me.

New coffee? Heck yeah, let’s not re-use those grounds.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap reporter … and proud of it.

A Tale of Two Bail Bondsmen

Two Kitsap County bail bond agents whom I interviewed for a story that ran Sunday on the bail bond industry in Port Orchard had somewhat different takes on attempts by the city of Port Orchard to encourage bail bondsmen to do business somewhere other than Bay Street.

As I mentioned in the story, the city council in 2009 adjusted its zoning for the downtown area to prohibit bail bond agencies on the ground floor of Bay Street buildings. Those already established are allowed to stay. The move, said Mayor Lary Coppola, was intended to reserve prime retail space for businesses that pay sales taxes. Bail bond agencies do not pay sales tax. The most the city gets out of the presence of bail bonds companies, located quite logically down the hill from the Kitsap County jail, is a reputation that one blog commenter dubbed “Bail Bonds by the Bay.”

Coppola said he has been unfairly painted as being unfriendly to bail bond companies, which, he said, serve an important function … it just doesn’t align with Port Orchard’s view of itself as quaint and tourist friendly.

Jim Thornton, who is a licensed bail agent in Kitsap County and who has offices in Mason County and Vancouver, Wa., has tried without great success to open his own bail company in Port Orchard. Thornton has felt unfairly discriminated against by the city and the county. He was delayed in getting “justification” or certification required of all new bail bond companies, a process through the Kitsap County court system (with regular renewals required as well). Thornton finally did get his justification recently, but by then he had decided to move his main office (from which he conducts business in Kitsap and Mason counties as well as Vancouver, WA) from Port Orchard to Shelton (in Mason Co.), where there are relatively few bail bond agencies.

“It’s a day late and a dollar short,” Thornton said of the justification. “It just took do d___ long for them to get us going. … So we figured it was time to get out of Port Orchard. We just wanted to pull out, get off of Bay Street, and get all the daggers out of our backs.”

Thornton, I believe, was referring to remarks by Coppola last year that bail bondsmen gave Port Orchard a bad image and suggestions he made that the city should make doing business on Bay Street uncomfortable for them.

Jim Boscola is a Port Orchard bail agent with another take on the city’s desire to move bail agencies off the main drag. “I don’t think he’s targeting our industry,” Boscola said of Coppola. “He’s made those types of comments against other types of businesses as well (i.e. dentists, lawyers and other professional who also don’t pay sales tax). From a city official’s perspective, they’re probably looking after their city.”

Boscola even sympathized with Coppola, saying, “Poor Lary. He seems like a nice guy, but they’re quick to judge him every time he opens his mouth.”

The Advice Less Traveled

While in Silverdale for a discussion on health care, I stopped by Safeway. The store sells used books for a local charity. On the shelf I saw six copies of the book “Don’t Set Goals.”

The author was Wade Cook.

I’m sure I’m not the first one to see the irony in that title. I can think of a few goals Mr. Cook would have been well served to make. Staying out of prison would have been one.

It’s probably a decent book, though.

Delilah’s Hoochie Wear Not Closing

By the look of signs in the windows of Delilah’s Hoochie Wear clothing store in Port Orchard, you’d think the place was closing. Not true.

According to South Kitsap’s local radio celebrity and Bay Street entrepreneur, the deep discounts and placards saying “everything must go” refer to the winter line of clothing soon to be replaced by brighter togs. But first a major renovation of the building owned by Seattle investor and microbiologist Mansour Samadpour. The building at 809 Bay was seriously damaged in the Nisqually Earthquake and replacement of the back wall, which is being held up with cinder blocks.

Renovation of the building, which was to have started the first week of February, was delayed. But it will begin soon, lasting a couple weeks, during which time the store will be closed. Spring and summer wear is still in boxes. Delilah & company have been working with noted designers, she said. Response to the store has been “very, very good.”

My thoughts: And you thought South Kitsap wouldn’t take well to a wardrobe makeover.

Profits from the store go toward Delilah’s nonprofit Point Hope.

Plans for Auto Mall on Highway 16 Scaled Back

I got a call this afternoon from South Kitsap real estate broker Fred Depee, who said market conditions in the auto industry have forced his partners Mist Ventures LLC of Nevada to rethink their plans for an auto mall on a nearly six-acre site on Sidney Road.

Instead of three dealerships on the highly visible site zoned “highway tourist commercial,” Mist has plans for one. The partners have put three acres of the site up for sale.

Back in December, 2008, when the property was annexed into the city of Port Orchard, the partners expected to be able to open the auto mall as early as spring, 2009.

Depee remains undaunted. The partners have ducks in a row, he said, and they’re ready to move forward with the dealership when the economy — and the auto industry in particular — pick up. Depee says the dealership is a sure bet “within five years.”

Depee has had some nibbles on the three acres for sale, including from a landscape company that would use the highway visibility to showcase their work in waterfalls.

In other news from Fred, the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority is still looking for families for their self-help housing program. Earlier this year in a Harris Street development, 18 families completed construction on homes they helped build for themselves. The housing authority recruited 34 more families for homes now under construction, Depee said. A dozen more will start construction after the first of the year.

The self-help housing program is funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture program. Families who earn up to 80 percent of the Kitsap County median income are eligible to participate. No down payment is required, but would-be homeowners must provide sweat equity on their own home and those of others in the tract.

Depee, who got his first home through a similar program takes any opportunity he can to give self-help housing a plug.

To find out more about the housing authority’s affordable housing programs, call (360) 535-6139.

PO Mayor Convenes Stakeholders Group

Parking is the major issue in downtown, merchants say.
By Chris Henry
Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola has convened an ad hoc group of downtown business and property owners to “express their concerns and frustrations, and discuss what they believe the city can do to address their issues.”
Coppola said he tapped prospective members he believes represent a cross-section of downtown interests.
In an e-mail to city council members, he added, “I have made it very clear to the folks I’ve talked to that this is to be positive and
solution-oriented — not just an opportunity to complain.”
That won’t be a problems with at least one group member.
“I think it’s really good that Lary is getting involved and asking what he can do to help us,” said Liana Laughlin, owner of That’s Beautiful bead and jewelry shop. “I haven’t really had a problem with the city itself. I think the people involved are really trying to help the businesses.”
Laughlin said if anything it’s the merchants who needs to do a better job of working together to support each other. For example, she said, they should coordinate hours of operation, especially during special events.
Group member Mallory Jackson, owner of Custom Picture Framing on Bay Street, has challenged the city in the past on parking related to downtown festivals. Parking remains an issue, she said. In addition, Jackson believes the city should support a variety of businesses, not only those that profit from special event traffic.
“I’m not a business that thrives on the festivals and events,” Jackson said.
“As a matter of fact, the closure of the road and the parking has really hurt me over this past year.”
Group member Darryl Baldwin, owner of Moondogs, Too and president of the Port Orchard Bay Street Association, said parking is the pivotal issue in downtown. He supports Jackson’s position but says, as long as the parking is addressed, there should be more, not fewer special events to “give people a reason to come downtown.”
“Each of these events supports different merchants with different products,” Baldwin said. “But as a whole, all the merchants benefit.”
Other members of the group include Van Vlist of Dick Vlist Motors, Judy Eagelson of the Mentor Company, John Reddy of Puget Sound Wine Cellar, Amy Igloi-Matsuno of Amy’s on the Bay and Rudy Swenson of Rings and Things.