Art Town: February — a great month to show the love to local business

The fountain outside Girardi’s restaurant in downtown Edmonds became an ice sculpture earlier this week. (File photo by Lee Lageschulte)

The month of February is a particularly important month to support local business as it is a short month, meaning we have fewer calendar days to cover our rent and other overhead costs. More than a few businesses have lost additional days due to the snowy weather. Shopping local this month is an especially great thing to do for your community!

There are people right here in Edmonds, mixed in amongst you in the most obvious way, that you may not be aware of. They are a group of strong-willed, independent, renegade-type of personalities a community such as ours should be aware of. Edmonds depends on it.

I speak of the individuals who at some point in their lives chose to go their own way to forge a way unknown, and to risk everything. I speak of the retail store owners of downtown Edmonds.

Downtown Edmonds is not about franchises, mini malls or chain stores. What we have is truly Main Street USA, brick-and-mortar, family-owned wonderfulness. All because of maverick personalities that at some point in their lives decided against corporate careers and job security. Instead they followed the path less traveled.

The folks who own their own stores in Edmonds don’t punch a clock. They don’t take many vacations either. They don’t have a boss. Instead they assume responsibility for meeting payroll and upholding lease agreements. Every item in every store is hand selected and curated. Items are priced to stay competitive and lovingly displayed to engage passersby to come in and take a look. Effort is made to learn customers’ names, and to uphold a mantle of treating anyone who walks through the door with honesty and respect. Sales taxes are responsibly collected and remitted to all levels of government. It takes a fearless, stalwart, energetic personality to commit to being a local business owner.

I am proud to count myself a member of this renegade, perhaps non-conformist, group. I set out on my own as self-employed at age 22 and never looked back. Fast forward to 2012, when I found myself opening ARTspot and getting involved in the bigger picture of what’s up in downtown Edmonds.

I have spent the past two years as the president of the Downtown Edmonds Merchant Association (DEMA). This group of store owners has a goal to make the downtown Edmonds retail core cohesive and to thrive. We coordinate our efforts with the City of Edmonds, the Edmonds Downtown Alliance and the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce. I have also appreciated the responsiveness of members of the Edmonds City Council during my time representing the merchants.

It has been an honor to fill this role for our community. You hear people saying that thing about honor, and may wonder at its sincerity, but it does feel that way. I have appreciated the support and integrity of the local business owners who extend their workday to come together to share and support each other.

Some highlights for me include the successful update to the city’s sign board ordinance and addressing the city council about issues concerning businesses. I was very pleased to see fellow DEMA members working hard to improve parking, provide input to our new shop local “love, Edmonds” campaign, fundraising for local charities, and supporting the efforts to attain Edmonds’ designation as a Creative District. Several businesses earned Envirostar environmental awards. These folks are movers and shakers!

My final message as outgoing DEMA President is this: Addressing the concerns of downtown business owners is good for the community. Spending your dollars in the town where you live is good for the community because viable downtown businesses can continue to donate to local school groups and charities. It allows us to volunteer, cross pollinate with other organizations, and host the many fun events that build a sense of inclusiveness and belonging.

Supporting local businesses creates sustainability. When our downtown economy is healthy, neighborhoods benefit too. Our tax base is stronger. Real estate values are stronger. We can deliver that “Edmonds Kind of Day” that makes our town so livable.

Sheila Cloney

I would like to introduce you to the new DEMA President, Sheila Cloney, of Anchor Chic Consignment. Sheila has been elected to serve for 2019 as the Downtown Edmonds Merchant Association President.

Having worked for the City of Kirkland, Sheila Cloney has experience with the workings of Business Improvement Districts, Lodging Tax Advisory Committees and tourism programs. Cloney states, ““I love downtown Edmonds – it’s right out of a Hallmark movie. Everyone is so welcoming and supportive. I’m proud to be a part of this amazing community with all of it’s great restaurants and unique shops.”

Her stated goals are to support the work of DEMA, to promote the health of the downtown through cooperative advertising campaigns, and networking activities that encourage residents to buy local, and increase engagement with downtown stakeholders and local decision makers.

I leave DEMA in very capable hands. Thank you to all the past DEMA presidents for keeping this organization going strong, and thank you Sheila for stepping up to carry on a long tradition of leadership in our community of independent store owners.

— By Tracy Kay Felix

  1. like your article – it sums up the uniqueness of Edmonds and the dedication of shop owners that keep the community alive and interesting

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