Archive | March, 2010

Movie Gallery to close Cascade Commons store

28 Mar

This was no surprise. If you didn’t see it coming, you were probably too gorged on popcorn and engrossed in one of the gazillion straight-to-video slasher flicks that seemed to dominate the walls at the Movie Gallery store next to Rite Aid.

I’d been a customer in the early going, but gradually grew weary of circling the store and finding not a thing to rent (that I would want to rent, that is). Oh, sure, they might have had one copy of a decent film, but that was always out. Hmm? Wonder why? Think there might’ve been … oh, what do they call it in Marketing 101? … DEMAND? Maybe if they had two or three more, they could’ve rented those. Ugh-ugh. That would’ve been too easy.

Then along comes this thing called Netflix. And now we have the Red Box, which is also cool, just for those impulse rentals you’re going to watch in 30 minutes after you get the ice cream home and in the freezer.

Retail movie rental chains are the dopes on the ropes. Movie Gallery has been shrinking for years. Blockbuster is getting its clock dusted. Hell, the whole movie industry is in shock, trying to figure out how to migrate to the next delivery platform. And through it all, the public still has a huge appetite for … content. Well, they got that going for them. Which is nice.

Nice discussion of our wine scene

25 Mar

Check out blog entry by Paul Gregutt, wine columnist for the Seattle Times, explaining one of the interesting facets of life in the Gorge — specifically as it concerns the American Viticultural Area designation for the central region. It’s called the Columbia Gorge AVA, which sets it apart from the Columbia Valley AVA (farther to the east, and much larger), and creates a bit of confusion among casual observers as to where one begins and the other ends, or vice versa.

Hood River startup rolls out solar & pedal trike

24 Mar

It’s called the Hauler, and it gets part of its boost from the solar panels that provide a lid for the rider (driver?), and it’s a product of what I understand to be a new Hood River company, called Senkai Motor Works. Here’s a link to a recent story about the product on a bike-related blog. I’m trying to learn more, and will share here … when I hear.

RE/MAX re/surfaces in downtown Hood River

23 Mar

After the Hood River franchise for Re/Max Results Realty expired in October last year, Vanessa Dittenhofer jumped at the chance to hook up with the nation’s biggest real estate brand. She had worked with RE/MAX previously, back in Jersey, so she knew the business model, and liked it.

After securing the franchise, she found a place at 209 Third St., just below the offices of Greg Colt, her former broker at John L. Scott in Hood River. Remodeling has been going on for several weeks now, leading up to — voila! — open doors, working phones, live agents, standing by to take your business … under the banner of RE/MAX River City.

Actually, Vanessa says veteran local agents Craig Jones and A.J. Kitt will be sharing the office. Other interested agents are invited to contact her. Call 541-399-6122.

Sustainable Industries editor promotes Gorge BALLE network

20 Mar

I won’t name names, but the owner of a small business in The Dalles recently told my wife that he would really like to see development of the proposed — and, as usual, high-centered — Super Walmart. When I heard this story, I was aghast. “Why would he want that?” I asked Kathy.

“He said that a Super Walmart would help crush many of the small businesses in The Dalles, and open the door for new (and apparently more interesting to him) businesses to move into that empty space.”

Hmm? Now that‘s an interesting economic development strategy.

Which brought to mind a new initiative at the opposite end of the spectrum. But first, some history.As you may recall, a similar Super Walmart proposal for Hood River went down in flames back in 2005, thanks to a community uprising, a focus on the disconnect between the proposal and the language in the county’s design code, a gutsy 3-2 vote by the Board of Commissioners, and support at the Land Use Board of Appeals and Oregon Supreme Court.

The underlying motivation of many opponents to Walmart’s expansion in Hood River was a desire to protect and defend small, locally owned businesses. Research shows that they do more to sustain the local economy — they’re twice as likely to shop local, more likely to support local charities, and spend $68 of every $100 in profit locally, vs. $43 for chains.

That’s a message that Becky Brun wants to highlight, promote and formalize.

Becky is the editor of Sustainable Industries magazine, a nifty San Francisco pub that covers the nexus between business and sustainability. You’ve heard the word (Now, see the movie), but what precisely does it mean? Not to oversimplify, but that’s the best way to start. It’s essentially about balance, between the interests of the environment, the economy, and the community (the people) who depend on both.

Brun spoke recently to the Downtown Business Council, about her desire to midwife a local network affiliated with a sustainability group called BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies).

Formed in 2001, BALLE now has 80 networks around the country, representing 21,000 independent businesses. “The poster child,” Brun says, is Sustainable Connections in Bellingham, Wash. It’s got 650 members, a $900,000 budget and recently secured a $2.8 million grant from the Department of Energy to retrofit buildings for energy efficiency.

Becky has been shopping around the idea of a Gorge affiliate to BALLE, and is hoping to form a steering committee to carry the mission forward. Interested? Call her at 503-821-9979, or write.

Owner of Frolik seeks buyer for store by April 15

20 Mar

Erin Campbell, owner of Frolik Clothing Co. at 211 Oak Ave. in downtown Hood River, is looking to try something else with her life.

She invites people interested in running a clothing retailer to contact her about buying the inventory and hardware associated with her business — racks, point of sale system, etc. She says her landlord is willing to extend the terms for her current lease by another two years. She has three years remaining, and a buyer can assume the lease at existing terms.

She estimates value of current inventory at around $25-30,000. Lacking a buyer, she will close around April 15. Call her at 541-490-8493 to discuss, or write to her at

Beyond the transition, you’ll still see Erin downtown — taking care of guests at the Full Sail taproom.

Good luck in the next chapter, Erin.

Latest on Footwise plans to relocate

19 Mar

No need to embellish this note from Footwise manager Joanie Donnelly:

“We will be having a huge moving sale in our current location April 16-26. This sale will be on clearance items and will help us lessen the amount of shoes we have to haul those three blocks! April 27-29 we will be closed for moving and cleaning, and we will reopen in our new digs on April 30. Then, assuming that First Friday is May 7 (I hope? Ed note: Yes, it is) we will have a big Grand Opening Celebration May 7-8 with discounts, prizes, goodies, etc. That’s the plan so far!”

Thanks, Joanie.