PORT TOWNSEND — At one end of historic downtown Port Townsend sits a community-owned store with a variety of goods wide enough to appeal to just about anyone. At the other end, an ice cream parlor has served as a popular destination for 40 years.
In between, throughout Jefferson County and beyond, small businesses will be celebrated next week for their role as the backbone of the economy, said organizers of Small Business Saturday.
Several locations were preparing Wednesday for next week’s Small Business Saturday, promoted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
The event will take place Nov. 30, between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as an unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season.
Mayor Deborah Stinson joined a tour group that included Kerrie Hurd, the Seattle district director for the SBA, at six downtown locations. They started at Quimper Mercantile and visited Whistle Stop Toys, Summer House Design, Maestrale Imports, Getables and Elevated Ice Cream.
This will be the eighth holiday season for Quimper Mercantile, an anchor tenant with 850 community stockholders located in the Port Townsend Plaza at 1121 Water St.
General Manager Holly Mayshark said the mercantile is preparing for special sales next week with 40 percent to 50 percent off certain items. The store also offers a discount to shoppers from Jefferson, Clallam and Island counties once they spend $100, she said.
With outdoor gear, sporting goods, clothing and more, Mayshark said she has been referring customers to other local businesses if they ask for something she doesn’t have in her inventory.
“Our store has something to appeal to everybody, and we have a very strong local history,” she said.
Framed by white lights in his new Whistle Stop Toys location, owner Steve Goldenbogen already has been filling holiday orders.
“My goal is to get as many toys as possible jammed into this space,” he said.
Goldenbogen, now at 1139 Water St., had ordered games, remote-controlled cars and Legos. His store also features card sets for both Pokemon and Magic the Gathering, and a back room opens up with tables and chairs that host card players multiple nights per week.
Goldenbogen opened the toy store Dec. 24, 2010. He used capital from an SBA Express loan to get started.
“I worked at home for 14 years, and after being at home for 14 years, I needed to get out of the house,” he joked. “The toy store we had in town was kind of on its way out. The need was there for a toy store.”
His move two months ago was a short one — about three blocks south on Water Street — but he enjoys having a customer-facing window, access to a parking lot and restroom facilities.
Goldenbogen, who has played Magic for 25 years, entertains card game players who range in age from 7 to 11 for the Pokemon series and from 9 to 60 for Magic.
“That’s so important to the community not just for youth but for inter-generational play,” Stinson said.
Goldenbogen created a Port Townsend history game last winter when the Water Street project was underway to encourage people to visit different stores.
He also has Santa’s mailbox up year-round, and children write letters filled with their holiday wish lists.
“On the day after Christmas, they can put their thank-you letters in,” Goldenbogen said.
Up the street, Glenn Lyons wrapped holiday lights around a window display at Summer House Design, 917 Water St.
Inside, co-owner Cris Busch Lyons helped a customer with a purchase.
The store carries unusual items both of them enjoy, including lamps and mid-century glass creations. There also are quirky collections with pop culture references that bring about laughter from a customer in a corner.
“We don’t like to have the same thing as the other stores,” Cris said. “We don’t like to be copycats.”
Glen said they’ve had people drive from up to 75 miles away to shop in Port Townsend because they can’t find anything like it anywhere else.
“We have a very idiosyncratic store,” Cris said. “We often say it’s a mix of the ridiculous and the sublime in here.”
“Generally, if we don’t like it, it’s not in here,” Glen added.
Jennefer Wood, the owner of Maestrale Imports, 821 Water St., travels the world to select each piece in her store.
Originally from Corvallis, Ore., Wood earned a degree in art and spent a couple years in Italy.
She loved small towns and decided to open her business in Port Townsend in 1996. She rented the building until an SBA loan allowed her to purchase it in 2011.
Some of the jewelry Wood showed on Wednesday came from Bangkok, Thailand and Bali, she said.
With the scent of fresh chocolate in the air, Elevated Ice Cream owner Julie McCulloch — a former Port Townsend mayor — reflected on starting her business as a street vendor in 1977.
Three years later, she moved into the building at 631 Water St., and she continues to see the need for a year-round ice cream parlor.
She hires and trains many young workers. McCulloch estimated 300 teenagers have worked their first jobs in her shop.
“They usually work for a couple of years in high school and then they come back from college for a year or two,” McCulloch said. “Some have come back and said, ‘I’ve learned everything I know for my career because I started here.’”
Each season has brought a different challenge for Pat Louderback, who purchased Getables in March and reopened it in May. The store at 810 Water St., features food and drink items but also caters to all ages with small gift ideas.
Louderback, a high-energy former language arts teacher at a junior high in Idaho, was getting ready to decorate.
“Each small business is someone’s job,” he said. “I’m hoping to be able to grow and hopefully create more jobs.
“If every business is doing that, the whole town is benefiting.”
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].