Tag Archives: business

Downtown business poll shows 2 of 3 had better 2009 than 2008

21 Feb

Shortly before flying the coop for a month in Belize, I built a quick little poll on Zoomerang and aimed it at the downtown Hood River business community. Its aim: Ask business to compare sales during the often-critical holiday period (November & December) of 2009 with the same period in 2008. And, ask them to compare their overall business activity in 2009 with that in 2008. Here’s a summary of the results:

Sixty-two percent of downtown Hood River businesses responding to the online survey said they had better holiday sales in 2009 than in 2008. That compared with just 17 percent of respondents that said their holidays sales were worse than in the previous year.

Among those doing well, 28 percent of business respondents reported holiday sales up by more than 15 percent during the 2009 holidays.

Still, the positive seasonal sales numbers don’t mean things are rosy for everyone. Holiday sales may simply have helped swing the mood in a more positive direction, after a sluggish start to the year.

For whatever reason, optimism reigns. Of poll respondents, 70 percent said they were hopeful for better things in 2010, and another 27 percent said they were “neutral” – neither optimistic nor pessimistic about prospects in the coming year.

Asked to compare overall business activity during 2009 with 2008, 59 percent of respondents said it had been a better year, compared to 31 percent who said they had done worse than in 2008.

Of those reporting a decline in activity, eight businesses said sales in 2009 had declined by more than 5 percent compared to 2008.

The survey, created by Watson x 2 communications for the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce, was distributed to 127 downtown businesses in late December 2009. Of those businesses, 26 percent responded. Several declined to take part, noting that their businesses aren’t tied to holiday gift-buying.

As the face of downtown has seen several changes during 2009, poll respondents are considering a number of options to boost or sustain business. Several businesses noted plans to add or shake up their product lines. Others plan to put more energy and money into marketing efforts, including use of social media such as facebook and expanding into other markets – The Dalles and Portland among them.

The survey used the free Zoomerang online polling utility.

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Whatup all over the downtown place

17 Sep

You’ve read some of it here before. You haven’t read all of it here before. Here’s a quick overview of what’s happening downtown in the next couple of months.

Summer’s over, and change is in the air. Several businesses are either moving, closing or looking for buyers.

And one business is preparing to offer visitor information and advice to downtown visitors. With the blessing of the Chamber, Sue Collins at Cascade Travel, 506 Cascade, will be creating an information center inside her store.

To defray expenses related to setting up and stocking brochure racks in the room at the front of her building, she will charge a monthly fee starting at $10 and scaling up, depending on the size of materials to be offered (magazine size vs. brochure, for instance). The service is available to Chamber members only. Call Collins at 541-386-6800 to arrange placement of your materials.

At least two downtown businesses are actively looking for buyers: That’s Swank and Doug’s. Plush Bed & Bath is closing, probably around the end of October. Discover Bicycles is moving, to the old Van Meter furniture building at 3rd and State streets, also toward November. Three prospective tenants are looking seriously at renting Discover’s current space at 2nd and Oak.

Benajamin Benjamin Gallery has moved to a smaller space on Third Street between Oak and Cascade. Owner Myah Bailey has been placing art in other retail locations (Naked, Ground Coffee, Nora’s Table), and selling well through those channels, so she realized that she didn’t need the space where she started next to Naked Winery.

And Naked does — need the space, that is. Naked is expanding, owner Dave Barringer says, so they can create a private meeting space, for parties, wedding dinners, tour groups. “We want them to feel special,” he says. He hopes to have the spruce-up done by Oct. 30, in time for the holidays.

Look for Vintage Legacy to open its doors soon at 112 Third St. Owner Linda Forsberg will hold an open house on Sept. 24.

So far, no news on a new tenant in the old Panzanella space at 5th and Cascade. Michael Eggebrecht had taken a serious look at opening a craft bakery there, but unresolved financial details put the brakes on that.

And North Cheatham tells us he’s in serious talks to rent the former Annz Panz space to a Portland chef who is interested in opening a French restaurant … in, ironically enough, the onetime Paris Fair building.

Oh, yes: The last First Friday of the summer is Oct. 2, followed the next day by the 6th Annual Hood River Hops Fest just south of Full Sail Brewery (details at: hoodriverhopsfest.wordpress.com/ )

And, of course, if YOU hear of something new, share it with me. 386-8860.

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).

Bits ‘n’ pieces from around the town

21 Jun

Thanks to Carol Thayer and son William at The Enchanted Alpaca for a great Coffee Clatter event Friday morning. Lots of people sharing news about their businesses. Don’t miss the next one … Good chat with Craig Holloway of Golf Etc. at the groundbreaking event for Mid-Columbia Medical Center’s new Mind Body center in The Dalles: He’s survived a year, and business is up in double digits. That’s news we love to hear … Looking for something different in a getaway? Check out the Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins. Owners Pete and Latisha Steadman have created a lux retreat, as alluring for out-of-towners as it should be for locals looking to score a cool staycation … There’s a new Subaru-focused mechanic in town. Tony Vinsant calls himself the Suby Man. He’s in White Salmon for the moment, but when he handed me his card recently at the Event Site (he must’ve noticed that I drive a Subaru), he said he wanted to move to the Hood. Call 509-281-1487, or send e-mail. Oh, yeah, he’s a blogger, too. … Great bread, soon, although much later than first anticipated. Michael Eggebrecht and his wife Cassandra say they’ve finally wrestled dangling purchase details to the ground, and should be opening Eggebrecht’s Bakery soon (original plans were for mid-May), in the old Panzanella space at 5th and Cascade. Thanks, Michael, for the free loaves that you and Cassandra seem to drop by with tasty regularity … Did you know that Candyland has moved from the Heights to downtown, at 111 Third St.? Biz is better since the move, what with a bit more walk-in traffic. Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 or maybe later, seven days. … Whoops, That’s … History? Spoke briefly with Rachel Hallett of That’s Swank the other day, and it sounds as if its five-year run is nearing an end. The owners plan to shut ‘er down later this year, so get your pre-owned fashions now. Rachel’s going to be sticking around town, though, and resuming her graphic design work. Call 541-490-4781 … Looking for help with weddings? Talk to Mary Ortega, whose Bella Bliss Boutique is sharing space in the front of Lucy’s Informal Flowers, at 311 Oak. Mary provides all sorts of decorative accoutrement to make your event the most memorable ever. … Need a tent for an event? Sam Gambill and Kristy Holsopple have added a White Salmon-based tent rental business to their day jobs. Tents and Rents has a variety of gear for those special occasions. And when they’re not renting tents? Sam works in the lab at Hood River Distillers, and Kristy works … in the lab at Full Sail Brewing. Part-TY!

‘Mystery biz’ contemplates move, seeks investor

24 May

Are you local? Are you … well, “angel money” looking for a place to place some grace? An existing downtown business is looking to relocate into a bigger space, and could use a little financing help. I guess they don’t want to try it with the banks. Hmm, wonder why — banks are just throwing money at small businesses these days, aren’t they? Anyway, this business owner wants to keep a low profile for the moment, partly out of regard for her current landlord. Let me know if you want an introduction, and I’ll make it happen.

OPB is coming to town

1 Apr

Got a call Tuesday morning (3/31) from Pete Springer, a name that sticks. He’s a reporter from Oregon Public Broadcasting, who found this blog and wanted to chat about a story idea they’re exploring. What? To track a downtown Hood River business over the next few months as a window into how that business is dealing with the economy. I gave him some names of possible subjects — Hood River Hotel, Melika, Shortt Supply, and Nora’s Table. Word is, Pete has chosen to focus on not just one, but three downtown businesses. He’ll be in town next week, to begin research. It should be an interesting series. Of note, all three of his subjects are managed and/or owned by women. Not unusual in the Hood. Downtown in particular, a solid majority of businesses are owned by, or have heavy involvement of, a woman. I pitched a story along those lines a year ago to Marcus Hibdon, our media rep for the Mt. Hood Territory regional tourism marketing partnership operated out of Travel Portland. No traction yet, but it’s another story waiting to be told.

A major downtown closure

20 Mar

Word from a reputable source says a major Oak Street business of more than 10 years is closing — soon. If true, it will leave a huge hole in the retail look and feel along the main drag, a look and feel that IT helped create. Stay tuned. I’ll try to get confirmation ASAP.