The county jobless rate is 6 percent, 3 percent lower than the state’s jobless rate. Sales tax revenue in Friday Harbor is down but lodging tax revenues are up. And some new local businesses have emerged.
Could the local economy be saying, “Damn the empty storefronts, full speed ahead?” Perhaps it’s too early to tell. But businesses are opening, expanding, moving to larger quarters. Here’s a few of the latest.
— Island Tails, a store owned and operated as an outreach of the Animal Protection Society of Friday Harbor, has opened at 26 Cannery Landing, upstairs next to Surf San Juan. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The store is managed by Leslie Byron, APS director. Her job is focused more on development and fund-raising, and the new store puts her right near the ferry landing. The interior is fresh and light, and is decorated with APS President Jaime Ellsworth’s paintings. San Juan Interiors donated the carpeting, Cody and Jimmy Feliz donated their painting services (using paint donated by Ace Hardware), Island Glass donated countertop glass, and Rex Ellsworth installed the lighting.
Island Tails has a lot of pet-related products, including Mollie’s Meals & Treats, Plush Puppies dog toys, Laurel Burch handbags, Jennifer Rigg T-shirts, Willow Creek Press calendars, and local gift cards.
A not-to-miss item: “The Shelter Cookbook,” featuring such recipes as “Crunchy Pie” by Betty White (yes, that Betty White), Grandma Shaw’s meatloaf, and Chef Bill Shaw’s crab bisque.
Coming up: Kittens frolicking in a window-front kitty condo, tickets for the next Wags to Riches, and raffle items.
Byron said she hopes the store will increase fund-raising for the animal shelter 20-25 percent.
— Isle be Jammin’ has moved to 310-B Spring St., formerly occupied by Creme Brulee (and once eyed as a possible Subway franchise site). Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; noon to 3 p.m., Saturday. The store is open Sundays through Christmas.
Owner Kirk Furhmeister said he has more than three times the space as his former site on Argyle Avenue. His former space could accommodate 20 for in-house performances; he now can accommodate 50.
“We are excited to be here and look forward to carrying on our tradition of friendly service,” he said in message distributed by the Chamber of Commerce. Services include instruction in banjo, bass, guitar, harmonica, mandolin, piano, ukulele, voice, and band coaching. “Also, our repair shop is ready to help fix and tune up your instrument.”
Isle be Jammin’ buys, sells and consigns musical instruments, books, gear and memorabilia. (Check out his display of instruments from around the world. And this is where you’ll find an Austrian jaw harp, kazoo, ocarina, maracas, nose flute or slide whistle for stocking stuffer.)
— Bob Nelson is doing business as San Juan Construction & Handyman, Inc. (www.sanjuanconstruction.webs.com).
“San Juan Construction & Handyman is a licensed Washington state construction company,” Nelson said on his website. “Our specialty is repair and construction projects of just a few hours to many months in size … from foundation to finish.”
Nelson has 20 years of experience in construction. Call 378-7061 or e-mail SanJuanHandyman@Gmail.com.
— Friday Harbor House has a new operations manager and a new head chef.
Michael Alexander, operations manager, is a certified hospitality educator. He developed, implemented and managed the featured fine dining restaurant at the Art Institute of Seattle’s Culinary Department, while instructing various courses in culinary operations and management. Additionally, he has instructed at Farestart and Edmonds Community College, and was maitre d’ and manager at the Salish Lodge & Spa in the early 1990s.
Kyle Nicholson, executive chef, relocated from Utah, where he had been fine-tuning his craft in Salt Lake City, Park City and Alta since 2003. He last managed a successful culinary program with Sur La Table in Salt Lake City.
Nicholson has ties to the Pacific Northwest, and earned degrees at The Evergreen State College in Olympia and Western Culinary Institute in Portland.
Nicholson also has a background in business and sustainable agriculture, which ties into the local farm-to-table philosophy that is so prominent in the Northwest.
— Daniel Danrich is a massage therapist practicing at Spa d’Bune, 669 Mullis St., Suite 101, Friday Harbor, 370-5027.
Danrich is a former building inspector who changed careers after massage helped him recover from a back injury. He has returned to the island after 12 years in Hawaii and four years in Utah. He graduated from Brennecke School of Massage in Seattle and specializes in British sports massage and Hawaiian lomilomi.
Lomilomi has long been used in Hawaii for healing, to aid digestion, as restorative massage, and by masters of the Hawaiian martial arts.