By Stephanie Button, Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership Executive Director

Photo: The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of Layered Cake Artistry (with Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership executive director Stephanie Button on the far left). Photo courtesy of Layered Cake Artistry.

In the heart of downtown Kennewick, the synergy of a vibrant business community is amplifying businesses’ and entrepreneurs’ collective impact and fostering a supportive environment for new and legacy businesses alike.

The Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership’s (HDKP’s) role as a Main Street organization is to help inspire, connect, and build relationships between and with our entrepreneurs and businesses. With 20 new businesses joining our vibrant downtown in 2023 alone, we’re proud to see our efforts pay off. Our downtown businesses truly exemplify the power of business-to-business collaboration, showcasing how working together can elevate not only their enterprises but also contribute to the growth and prosperity of the entire local economy.

Layered Cake Artistry, for example, is more than just a bakery; it’s a hub for community engagement. Sister owners Concetta Gullini and Elena Gavin got their business off the ground by attending vendor markets before opening their specialty bakery in January 2020. Now they pay it forward with their own innovative vendor markets, providing a platform for local businesses to showcase their products. Erin Sagadin, owner of Earth Spirit, found a home at these events and capitalized on the energy to expand her business’s reach by featuring her products in other local stores. She was able to open a brick-and-mortar location downtown in October 2021 and won Tri-Cities Best’s Best Boutique Award in 2023. This is the kind of collaborative spirit that creates a domino effect, where the success of one business ripples throughout the entire community.

Another domino effect started when the South Columbia Creative Arts District (SOCO) was certified as a Washington Creative District in 2021. The HDKP has worked to recruit art-focused businesses and nurture local artisans within SOCO, including starting our First Thursday Art Walks, the setting for mother-daughter team Anita Butler and Abigail Bristow’s foray into entrepreneurship. They started live painting during the art walks, which led them to open Bristle Art Gallery in August 2023. Their model takes business-to-business collaboration to an artistic level by sourcing products from local microenterprises, from ceramic paint palettes to small batch paper. This collaboration supports other local artists, brings unique handmade creations to its customers, and strengthens the bond between the gallery and artists.

Engaging customers with a different sense, Bergan’s Timeless Treasures and Whimsy Apothecary joined forces to weave scented stories for the community. Amy Bergan’s customers often told her that they wished their homes smelled like her vanilla sugar-scented store, which sparked the idea to collaborate with her candle-making business neighbor, Whimsy’s owner, Jessica Dilger. Together they collaborated to develop custom-scented candles sourced from Whimsy and sold exclusively at Bergan’s. These locally crafted candles have become a unique product offering, adding to the charm of downtown Kennewick.

In downtown Kennewick, collaborations between businesses are not just transactions; they are stories of mutual support, creativity, and shared success. The result has been a cohesive business community where the success of one business is not an isolated event but a communal celebration, resonating with the rhythm of a united and proud downtown Kennewick.