Archive for April, 2012
I apologize that the BizBlog posts have been a little sparse in recent days, it’s been a busy time on this beat. I’ll try to do a bit of catching up, starting with an interesting look at the Washington wine industry.
The most recent data ranks Whatcom County ninth in production, with 73,598 gallons. Benton County and Grant County are the main wine producers in Washington, tallying 11 million and 6 million gallons respectively during the same period (This paragraph was updated).
Here’s the press release from the Washington state wine commission:
The Washington State Wine Commission today announced the results of a new economic impact study of the Washington State wine industry – the most comprehensive such report ever produced – that values the industry at $8.6 billion annually in Washington State and $14.9 billion annually in the US.
These findings represent a substantial increase from a similar study conducted in 2007 that valued the industry at $3 billion in-state and $4.7 billion nationally.
Since 2005, the number of licensed wineries in Washington State has more than doubled from 360 to now well over 700. The state has also added more than 13,000 acres of vineyards during this time – from just over 30,000 acres (12,000 hectares) in 2005 to more than 43,000 acres (17,000 hectares) today.
Whatcom County’s unemployment rate took a slight dip in March, according to a new report from the Washington State Employment Security Department.
Last month the unemployment rate locally was 8.1 percent, down from a revised rate of 8.3 percent in February. A year ago, Whatcom’s unemployment rate was 9.2 percent.
The number of Whatcom County residents actively looking for work was 8,850, down from 8,930 in February. A year earlier, 9,870 people were actively looking for work locally.
More jobs were added to the local workforce, according to report. Last month 99,920 people had jobs in Whatcom County, up 1,540 compared to February. Nonfarm employment increased by 1,300 for the same period.
Construction was one of the industries that posted the biggest jump between February and March. Last month 6,500 people were estimated to be employed in construction, up 700 from the previous month.
Whatcom’s March unemployment remained lower than most nearby counties, including Skagit (10.2 percent unemployment rate), Snohomish (8.4 percent) and San Juan (8.5 percent). The Washington county with the highest unemployment rate last month was Ferry (15 percent), while the lowest was Whitman (6.9 percent).
A few different stories are out today about gas prices peaking and starting to go down Here’s a (link) to a story from The Associated Press. Here’s an update about Bellingham prices:
The average price for a gallon of gas in the Bellingham metro area was $4.24 on Friday, April 20, down a penny from a week ago, according to the AAA Washington Fuel Gauge Report.
Bellingham’s price is up 8 cents compared to a month ago and up 20 cents from a year ago. The average price for a gallon of diesel in Bellingham was $4.55 on April 12, down four cents from a week ago.
Bellingham’s average price remains the highest among Washington metro areas. The next highest is Seattle at $4.15 a gallon. The least expensive is in Spokane, at $3.95 a gallon.
Here’s one item going into Sunday’s Retail Tip Sheet column…
After three years in a cramped space on Railroad Avenue, Little Tiger Toys is ready to move into a bigger space.
The toy store is moving to 112 Grand Ave., near Henderson Books. The store will close its Railroad Avenue space on Sunday, April 29 and make the move, opening in the 2,000-square-foot space on Tuesday, May 1. Once in the new space, store hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
The bigger space will allow the store to stock more toys while also providing more space for customers to try out some of the toys, said Ocean Christensen, assistant manager at the store.
Once the toy store has vacated its spot at 1417 Railroad Ave., Casa Que Pasa plans to expand its restaurant into the space, adding more seating, Christensen said.
Little Tiger Toys’ website and phone number will remain the same during this transition. For details, call 360-734-0607 or visit littletigertoys.com.
BELLINGHAM – An Alabama neighborhood gas station is about to begin a major remodel.
The Yorky’s Market gas station at 2418 Alabama St. will close on Monday, April 23 and remained closed for what will be a four or five month remodel, said Matt Yorkston of Yorkston Oil. The car wash facility and the convenience store will be demolished, making way for a two-story, 3,800-square-foot building that will include an expanded store as well as some office space.
The gas tanks will be dug up and the ground cleaned before it’s replaced with new tanks and dispensers.
The new convenience store will have more grocery items and feature a walk-in cooler. It will also be home to a postal contract station, offering a limited number of mailboxes and will be similar to the Fairhaven postal contract station.
Yorkston said they also plan to have a quick serve restaurant in the building.
According to the The Herald in Everett, more than 3,000 people were at the opening of the outdoors store Cabela’s at Quil Ceda Village near Marysville this morning (April 19). Here’s a (link) to the article, which has a picture that pretty much sums up how much this opening was anticipated by customers.
It’ll be interesting to see what sort of impact this will have on outdoor stores in the region. It’s sure to make what is already a busy area even more busy.
Here are the latest list of businesses that have registered to do business in Bellingham (April 10-16). Most are firms entering the Bellingham market, but some are existing Bellingham businesses changing ownership/address:
The Shop, Felicia S Lynn, 1155 N State St #408, Bellingham
Sin Talk, Sarah E Reichle, 1230 Indian St #4A, Bellingham
Alexxian, Alexxian LLC, 2001 Iowa St #F, Bellingham
Tourists spent a record amount of money in Whatcom County last year, according to a new report.
Spending by tourists hit $555.4 million in 2011, a 16.9 percent increase from 2010. It’s the highest annual amount spent in Whatcom County, beating the previous high of $485.6 million in 2008. The authors of the study, Dean Runyan Associates, estimates Whatcom County tourism em-ployment totaled 5,870, up 230 from the previous year.
A major factor in the increase was the rise in Canadian shopping, said Loni Rahm, president and CEO of Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism. With lodging occupancy up 8.8 percent compared to the previous year, she noted that Canadian holidays in 2011 meant fuller hotels and motels in Whatcom County, because more time in the U.S. meant Canadians could bring back more into Canada with getting hit with the duty tax.
Here’s a release from the Washington State Employment Security Department (Whatcom County numbers are scheduled to be released Tuesday, April 24):
Washington employers added an estimated 3,300 jobs in March, marking 15 straight months of job growth, according to the Employment Security Department.
The state’s estimated unemployment rate remained unchanged in March, matching February’s upwardly revised rate of 8.3 percent.
“March was relatively flat, with modest job growth,” said senior economist Dave Wallace. “It was encouraging that about half of the industry sectors added jobs and only two lost jobs.”
BELLINGHAM – A recently vacated large retail space in the Sehome Village Shopping Center is already generating a fair amount of interest from potential tenants.
The College Store closed its 12,500-square-foot store at the end of March. The parent company, Nebraska Book Company, has struggled in Chap-ter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, with its most recent bankruptcy amendment resulting in the closure of nearly 40 stores at the end of last month. Bellingham had the only College Store in Washington state before the closure.
The College Store focused on selling new and used textbooks to Western Washington University and Whatcom Community College students. With the closure of The College Store, students’ choices are narrowed to buying textbooks on campus or online.
Within the first few weeks of the space becoming available, it has already attracted interest from regional and national companies, said Brian Finnegan, leasing agent for the center.
“The center itself is doing well, while the overall (Bellingham) market is seeing more activity,” Finnegan said. “We’re hearing from many more companies that are interested in expanding into this area.”
A factor in the closure of The College Store in Bellingham is changing technology. In a recent news release about its reorganization plans, Ne-braska Book Company President Barry Major said its advantage of selling less expensive used college textbooks has taken a hit in recent years as more students shopped for online rentals of the books.
“Revenue declines have been severe in these (off-campus) stores and cumulatively they have lost over $3 million this year,” Major said in the March news release. “We knew we owed it to our creditors and the company to make some changes.”
The Bellingham store originally started in 1996 as That Textbook Place before it was sold to the Nebraska Book Company in May 2001.