Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Comings and Goings in the ever-changing market place

Now open: Elements Massage of Maple Valley in the Maple Valley Town Square; sears outlet Home Appliance Showroom in Covington (right next to the Covington Chamber office); Black Diamond Antique on Railroad Avenue; Yeti Yogurt, Subway, and Taco Del Mar between Johnsons Home & Garden and Grocery Outlet Bargain Market in Four Corner Square.

Coming very soon: Walgreens, Auto Zone and the new location of Maple Valley Eye Care Center - all of these freestanding building pads are in front of Johnsons and GOBM; Maple Valley Bar & Grill is slated to open in the former MultiCare location on the other side of Four Corner Square; and Valley Medical Center's new 10,000 square foot facility is being built right in front of Fred Meyer.

And no - there is no Trader Joe's or Olive Garden coming to town any time soon.

In a recent interview, I was asked about all the new growth and impact on local businesses. My response was with growth comes opportunity - and sometimes missed opportunity. I know that first-hand from owning our own business (Wilderness Auto Service & Chevron, now in the second generation of ownership) and surviving the many changes in our community over the last 39 years. We pumped more gas in the 90's than we do now. Growth doesn't always mean more business; often times it means less. More than once we had to redefine our core business to survive. Originally, it was a Standard gas station with lube bays; over the years it became auto service with Chevron gas and a food mart. Without changing our business model and responding to the new demands of the consumer, there was no way we would have ever survived the last few years.

I was also asked in the interview if change was a bad or good thing. My answer was it's neither - it's just different. This area has seen a change in demographics over the years - the population changed and with that came different consumer demands which affected most every business.

What we have lost over the years is some of that local 'flavor' and character. We used to have more owner-operated businesses - more uniqueness. Ralph's Thriftway in Wilderness Village, for example, is now QFC. Village Drug is now a Bartell's.

On the other hand, look at the opportunities for businesses located next to Fred Meyer in Maple Valley Town Square. It's hard to imagine that none of that existed two years ago. It's the same with the redeveloped Four Corner Square with Johnsons Home & Garden and Grocery Outlet Bargain Market. The new growth and development has spurred on new businesses and brought new life to surrounding existing businesses.

The bottom line is that the chamber cares about the health and well-being of all businesses - old and new, big and small. A lot of what we do is all about business retention. We have resources and the expertise to help a business even before their doors are open and long before they're really struggling. We are here to be a partner in building their business. It's our mission - to Grow Business, Build Community. Call me any time to talk about your business. 425.432.0222.

For a complete list of members and events, visit our website at or or call 425.432.0222. The Chamber - Growing Business, Building Community. Find us on Facebook at

Upcoming Events: January 7- 2014 Eastside Chambers Coalition Legislative Breakfast; January 15 - Membership Luncheon; January 29 - Chamber Day in Olympia; February 19 -Membership Luncheon with Brad Worthley; February 28 - 2014 President's Dinner; April 25-26 - Annual Hooked On Fishing Opening Day Trout Derby; July 16 - Wacky & Wild Golf Challenge.

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