Archive | July, 2009

Stores you may have missed, but shouldn’t

29 Jul

Cue Beach Boys — I get around ’round, I get around. I do. It’s my job, in part, to do that for the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce. But it’s a great excuse to meet cool people and learn about the riches sometimes buried right beneath our noses in the Hood.

Congrats to Gabriel Head and Ben Van Dehey for surviving three years with their Pizzicato Gourmet Pizza store at 2910 W. Cascade Ave. Part of a regional group of 21 such pie purveyors, Pizzicato thrives in a tough restaurant market in a tough restaurant market niche — pizza, as in Andrew’s, Double Mountain, Pietro’s, Papa Murphy’s, Domino’s, not to mention the frozen and take-and-bake product at Safeway and Rosauer’s. Good job, guys.

Did you know that Gorge Satellite sells and installs big-screen TV systems? Me neither. I was talking with longtime Gorge businessman Greg Duhan the other day, and was surprised that we have a source here not only for quality product, but the expertise to get it on the wall. Gorge Satellite is at 2795 Cascade Ave., across from the big box.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not exactly the core customer for Capriccio Salon & Beauty Supply (well, maybe I should be). Laura Vink, owner of the store at 2930 Cascade Ave., has carved out a nice little differentiation from other places that do hair. She has a deep trove of hair-care products, covering a full range of familiar (and maybe not so familiar) brands. She doesn’t do nails, another (ahem) breath of fresh air.

Steve Nybroten has opened his new Allstate insurance agency up on the Heights, on 12th street just north of Shortt Supply. Hey, you were gonna stop there anyway to get a Camelbak and some running gear, so if you need insurance, remember that Steve has returned the Allstate brand to Hood River (by purchasing the clientele of a former agent in The Dalles).

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Keepin’ it local

29 Jul

Thanks to Sarah Keller of Knot Another Hat, for pointing me to The 3/50 Project. This is yet another way to simply say, “Buy local.” But it’s a clever branding effort, led by a retailing consultant, with numbers to buttress the power of spending with local merchants.

The project is more robust than this reductionist version, but it’s enough to think that if you picked three businesses that really matter to you, and that if half the employed population dropped $50 a month at one or all three of them, the combined economic boost each month would come to $42.6 billion. Two more numbers to keep in mind. For every $100 spent with a local independent store, $68 stays local and works to support local families and other local businesses and local government. Spend that $100 at a chain store, and $43 stays local. And shop online, nothing stays local (unless you’re buying something made locally, which begs the question of why you couldn’t find it and buy it locally in the first place).

I’m all about local. Yes, I shop in chain stores, including Wal-Mart, but things we do of necessity (i.e. can’t find that item anywhere else) don’t mean we dislike or wouldn’t prefer to shop at a locally owned store. So, before you default to what you may perceive to be the “lowest prices always,” think about who else might have it, and how you could help your own business and job situation by aiming $$ in that direction.

Example? WM has a hardware department of sorts. But who doesn’t love Hood River Supply, which has everything you could need, at very affordable prices. OK, maybe you could get something a bit cheaper at a big box east or west, but factor in the time and cost of gas, and is it really worth it?

Cinda Baxter, who started the 3/50 Project, also runs the retailer-to-retailer web site, retailspeaks. Check it out to network with people in the same boat.

Now THIS is local produce

23 Jul

Much written of late about the marketing of certain produce by Safeway, as “local.” In the news business, local was always one of those words that meant nothing, because everything is local, to the place where people encounter it. So it’s safe for Safeway to say it’s fruit is local, because it was grown at a locale, and picked by local workers, and shipped to a locale that is local to the … locals.

OK, we’ ve beat that horse. But in terms of sustainability — that is, how does the product support the local economy, and the environment, and the community — food grown as close to its consumers is what works best. And the Gorge Grown Food Network is our shining light. Not only does it serve up the weekly Farmer’s Market at the Midde School, but it takes its mission on the road, so it can be more local. Learn all about it here, with the current newsletter. Better yet, sign up.

Comin’ atcha … traffic builders

23 Jul

Do you have your “We Love Windsurfers” poster in the window? Maybe it’s time to get a “We Love Kiteboarders, Too” poster.

The U.S. Windsurfing Nationals begin tomorrow (Thursday, July 23) at the Event Site.

And two weeks on, the kiters get all up in the air to raise funds to fight cancer. Here’s the link.

Kiteboarding 4 Cancer : August 7-9 at the Hood River Event Site!!

Both events promise to generate lots of traffic. Open your arms — it’s nice to acknowledge all these people who visit and spend their money here.

Cool stuff for the golf nut in your house

9 Jul

I used to golf. My Dad golfed, so it was genetic — I thought. He gave me his clubs, when he went into recovery. I stirred the earth for several years, reducing the worm population and recycling enough beer to drown a journalist.

Then some guy hanging out near the playground offered me a taste of (psst!) windsurfing. Oh, man, I never shoulda done that. Next thing you know, I was selling my clubs and moving to the Hood.

Still, some of my best friends are golfers, not that I’d want my daughter to marry one (their shoes leave marks on the oak floors).

I say all that to acknowledge the passion that golfers bring to their sport. And for true junkies, you gotta go to Golf Etc. in Hood River. Craig Holloway has a great little store (it’s in the complex out between Enterprise Car Rental and Wal-Mart, just north of Pizzicato). He’s got all the schwag — I love the Muppet-like head covers. Also has a putting green, and a computerized tee box where you can analyze your swing, and determine why everything is always going right. Or left. As the case may be.

Plus which, Craig is just a darned nice guy, one of a whole clan of nice people. His mom, Linda, sells Jafra. His sister, Samantha, runs the Balch Hotel. I’m not sure if either of them play golf, but I’m guessing note — they’re entirely too well balanced.

Chamber members get social media seminar series

9 Jul

Full disclosure: I work half time for the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce. This is not their site, and I say what I want to here.

I want to applaud executive director Mary Closson and marketing coordinator Jamel Badrieh for making good stuff happen — for members. Since Mary arrived, and later brought on Jamel, the Chamber has taken a refreshing turn, with lots of new energy and ideas.

To wit, the forthcoming series of Brown Bag seminars on social media. The topic leaves us with more questions than answers.

Do you Tweet?

How many Friends do you have?

Does your blog have SEO?

Do you care? And should you?

Well, the Chamber thinks you ought to at least know about the subject to make a decision. So, the seminars. They will run from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. on Wednesdays at Columbia Gorge Community College’s Indian Creek-Hood River Campus. Cost is a mere $5 for members ($10 general admission).

Dates:

July 22 – John Metta, scientists, programmer, social media savant — and blogger.
Aug. 5 – Topic TBA
Aug. 19 – TBA
Sept. 16 – TBA
Sept. 30 – TBA

Are you a Chamber member? Don’t miss the bus. Call me at 386-8860 and I’ll hook you up.

Hunka bunka dunka …

3 Jul

Oh, you gotta love the dunk tank. Thanks to the Hood River Heights Business Association and Hood River Lions, you will get a chance to dunk the Hood River power elite on Saturday afternoon, in Jackson Park. It’s all part of the festivities after the 4th of July Parade, which starts at 10 a.m. at Pacific and Tucker, near Walgreen’s.

Now, to the dunk tank. Here’s the schedule, if there’s anybody you’ve been looking to take a shot at:

Noon-12:15 p.m. – Police Chief Bruce Ludwig

12:15 – 12:30 – Hood River County Commissioner Maui Meyer

12:30 – 12:45 – Fire Chief Devon Wells

12:45 – 1 – May Street School Principal Susan Henness

1 to 1:15 – Mayor Arthur Babitz

1:15 – 1:30 – School District finance guy Nick Hogan

1:30 – 1:45 – Schools Superintendent Pat Evenson-Brady

1:45 – 2 – County Administrator Dave Meriwether.