Excellence on Main Award

Thai House Facade Project

Awardee: Colleda Monick, Steve Weise, Roger Wilson, and Joe Mann

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2016

City: Yakima

As a new Washington Main Street Community, Downtown Association of Yakima wanted to show the power of Main Street by making a visual impact and investing in the downtown business community. A façade grant program was developed and a selection committee toured downtown Yakima to identify a business that would benefit from a façade enhancement.

Hidden behind an aging storefront, lacking adequate windows or visual appeal, and located on a key block at the center of the downtown district, the Thai House restaurant was unanimously selected for the pilot project. Based on recommendations from an architect, multiple improvements were made in 2015, including removing the security screen from the building, creating an outdoor seating area in an underutilized planting bed, and installing floor to ceiling windows and a glass door. Funding for this project was a 50:50 grant match between DAY and the business and property owner.  In total, over $20,000 was spent in façade improvements.

The impact of this project has been greater than anticipated and enhanced the building not only visually, but also spurred activity to the area and surrounding businesses. The Thai House is reporting over 25% increase in sales and visible increase in foot traffic near the restaurant. Since the project has been complete, 3 new businesses have opened within a 100 feet of the business.

The success of the Thai House façade project has spurred DAY to develop a long-term façade grant program that is now open to downtown businesses and property owners who desire to make improvements to the façade of their buildings. DAY intends to do 2-4 projects a year based on demand.

Excellence on Main Award

Town & Country

Awardee: Jerri Lane, Bainbridge Island Downtown Association Executive Director

Award: Entrepreneur of the Year

Year: 2016

City: Bainbridge Island

Town & Country Market, which opened its doors on Bainbridge Island in 1957, recently underwent a major, 14-month remodel to transform it into a larger, updated and renewed market with improved layout and flow, increased seating, and many new features.

Owner Larry Nakata, a lifelong Bainbridge Island resident, knew the old structure needed extensive work. A study showed him that it would be far less expensive to construct a new building outside of the central business district, but Nakata recognized that losing the market, a long-time downtown anchor, would deal a heavy blow to the community core.

The $15 million renovation includes an enhanced entrance, improved parking, reconfigured floor plan, an expansive Culinary Resource kiosk for demonstrations and samples, touchstone kiosks with access to recipes and videos, and new equipment. Much of the work centered on modernization and sustainability – energy efficient lighting, healing and cooling systems, and solar panels, among other improvements. After the project was completed in 2015, Town & Country Market was awarded LEED® Gold from the US Green Building Council for the achievements in the building and operation of this downtown fixture.

Town & Country Market has long been a destination on Winslow Way in downtown Bainbridge Island, helping to make the community a more livable, healthy place. Larry and his crew have taken their commitment to the community a huge step further by choosing to re-invest their downtown building and adapt the business to new trends and customer demands.

Excellence on Main Award

PTeRider

Awardee: Port Townsend Main Street board members Connie Segal and Sandy Spencer

Award: Sustainable Future

Year: 2017

City: Port Townsend

In 2015, Kate Dwyer and Myron Gauger, both artists in Port Townsend, were inspired to start an all-electric, short distance taxi service in their own town after experiencing a similar service in Portland.

After speaking with local business leaders and developing a plan for what they were to dub “PTeRiders”, establishing the legal framework proved to be a challenge. Because low speed electric taxi services did not yet exist in Washington, each step – including insurance, licensing, and taxes – was a first in the state. Kate and Myron crossed many hurdles to see their vision through, including amending state law to allow low speed electric vehicles on highways with speed limits of 30 MPH or less.

PTeRider hit the streets with two electric roadsters in 2016 to much fanfare and a more successful first season than expected. Kate and Myron themselves are the drivers and de facto tour guides. It was clear to the couple even in the first days of opening up the service to the public that the greatest interest was in utilizing the historic tour aspect, which Kate estimates made up 75% of their business in the first year.

PTeRider has also become highly integrated into Port Townsend’s active tourism economy, providing shuttle service for ship passengers and boaters who dock downtown, as well as event attendees for various festivals, races, and other events.

Kate and Myron have demonstrated ingenuity in every step they’ve taken since hatching the idea for PTeRiders. Significantly, they have also paved the way for other Washington communities to invest in lively and inviting forms of energy efficient transportation.

Excellence on Main Award

Arktana

Awardee: Ann Matthews

Award: Entrepreneur of the Year

Year: 2017

City: Camas

Ann Matthews opened Arktana, a boutique shoe store in downtown Camas, which is affectionately named after her family’s two states of origin – Arkansas and Montana – in 2014. With an entrepreneurial background and a robust business plan in place, Ann was able to hit the ground running to quickly develop her business into a shopping staple in the region.

Ann’s passion for her business benefits customers, employees, and the community at large. By working closely with vendors to ensure only the highest quality products and by providing creative opportunities for customers to engage with the shop through private parties, appreciation nights, and extended business hours, Arktana emphasizes customer care.

Arktana’s employees also benefit from this people-first model. Ann intentionally provides first job opportunities to young people in Camas and calls out special skills she sees in her employees.

Ann intentionally runs a very community-oriented business. Arktana recently partnered with a human services nonprofit in a promotion that resulted in Arktana donating 100 pairs of new shoes to low-income families in the Camas-Washougal area.

Ann and her staff consistently collaborate with other downtown Camas merchants for photo shoots, promotions, and events. When severe winter weather kept many customers away during pivotal sales months, Ann contacted the Downtown Camas Association to suggest a special shopping promotion to bring the community downtown. Ann lessened the burden on the DCA by helping coordinate activities, paying for the graphic work, and assisting with promotion of the event, which resulted in a successful sales weekend for many downtown merchants.

Ann is a model and champion for the role of a downtown business owner in revitalization efforts. Arktana’s positive impact on downtown Camas extends far beyond its own four walls.

Excellence on Main Award

Heritage Distilling

Award: Excellence on Main Award

Year: 2018

City: Gig Harbor

Heritage Distilling is a majority women-owned, family-operated craft distillery founded and based in Gig Harbor. Jennifer and Justin Stiefel opened the business six years ago after moving back to Washington State from the other Washington, where they both earned master’s degrees and began their professional careers. The Stiefels value their own families’ heritages in the Northwest and have built a brand and an award-winning business around core concepts of community, customers, shareholders, and employees.

Justin distilled his first batch of liquor as a science project in 7th grade (he received an “A”!). Fast forward to 2018, and Justin and Jennifer have grown their business into Washington’s largest independently-owned craft distillery. After opening the flagship distillery in Gig Harbor in 2012, they now have four locations, with another three to be opened soon, and a wide menu of products, including multiple flavors of gin, vodka, whiskey, and bourbon.

Heritage Distilling’s most recent opening, in 2017, is in Roslyn’s historic Northwest Improvement Company building, in the heart of downtown. The company’s focus on honoring cultural heritage made it the perfect fit to anchor the development in which it now operates a tasting bar and a production area with six operating stills, all named after families from Roslyn’s early days.

The company continues to innovate and grow. Among the many ways Heritage engages its customers include their “My Batch” educational sessions, in which attendees can make their own whiskey, and the opportunity to join the Cask Club, which allows members to design and age their own alcohol at home. Heritage products have also made their way into professional sporting arenas, starting at Safeco Field. Knowing the ballpark’s reputation for supporting local suppliers, Justin pitched that Safeco carry the distillery’s award-winning Brown Sugar Boubon, which is now the featured spirit in the Mariners’ new BSB Lounge.

Heritage Distilling has quickly made a name for itself, and for the local communities in which it has invested. Cheri Marusa of the Roslyn Downtown Association says that Heritage is a transformative business for her community. Mary DesMarais of the Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance says that Heritage has breathed new life and vitality into a prime, highly visible corner of downtown Gig Harbor, and that they are proud that the company calls their small community home base.

Heritage Distilling is an excellent example of the power of entrepreneurial spirit to create jobs and destinations by embracing the trend of manufacturing moving back to Main Street. But more than that, the Stiefels have shown great commitment to the places and people that make up their business family by highlighting their heritage and investing in the communities themselves.

Excellence on Main Award

Salud!

Awardee: Gerald and Yolanda Taylor and Tony and Raechill Dotson

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2018

City: Camas

Salud! is owned by two married couples, Gerald and Yolanda Taylor and Tony and Raechill Dotson, who had a vision for a business that would provide their fellow community members with opportunities to spend time together, learn, and create friendships. Wine enthusiasts all, they developed a plan for a wine bar that is equal parts tasting room, meeting space, event venue, and wine storage facility where people can store their own wine in temperature controlled spaces.

Before opening their business, the Taylors and the Dotsons tackled an adaptive building reuse of grand proportions. The building in downtown Camas was long home to Sears, and when the store closed its doors in 2016, it was unclear what new use the large, open space would hold. The building was certainly large enough for the various uses Salud!’s owners had in mind, but creating the intimate environment suitable for the wine bar and meeting spaces took a great deal of remodeling, much of which was done by the Taylors and Dotsons themselves. They exposed old beams, put up walls, and built a wine storage area complete with street signs, such as “Chardonnay Way,” along a Main Street corridor.

Salud! opened its doors in August 2017 and has since brought thousands of people to downtown Camas. In addition to opening their meeting space to nonprofit organizations and other groups, Salud! hosts many of their own events, including chef dinners, murder mystery parties, movie nights, a 1980s-themed prom, and more. They often partner with fellow entrepreneurs to bring people to downtown Camas for more than just their own destination business. Collaboration and cross-promotional advertising with Salud! has benefited the historic Liberty Theatre, the Camas Hotel, as well as nearby food and beverage establishments. The Taylors and the Dotsons are handily accomplishing their goals of bringing the community together through their business.

Communities everywhere are struggling with reuse of historic buildings originally suited for department stores. Salud! represents the innovative spirit of Main Street: adaptive, creative, and rooted in bringing people together.

Excellence on Main Award

Downtown Farmer’s Market

Awardee: Shane Laib of the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2017

City: Walla Walla

During the 1990s, as downtown Walla Walla was beginning the extensive Local Improvement District rehabilitation process, an idea was brought forth to develop a farmers market to enhance and showcase the local agricultural and artisan offerings of the Walla Walla Valley. The overall goal was to attract local shoppers to the downtown core.

Original plans involved the city building a market structure on an abandoned lumber yard adjacent to downtown, but it was soon clear that this was a cost prohibitive plan. Not willing to let the proposed market die, the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation and members of the City Council developed a new plan to build an open-air market on the vacant block. The market kicked off its first season in 1997.

Several nay-sayers said it wouldn’t last, but through the efforts of the vendors, volunteers, staff, sponsors, and patrons alike, the market recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Originally subsidized by the city and private donations, the market is now 100% self-sustaining.

With its central location in the downtown core, the market has become one of the unique gathering places for residents and tourists alike. In 2016, survey results showed that 42% of market visitors were from out of town and 92% of them planned to purchase during their visit. The 2016 market produced an additional $500,000 in sales for the local economy.

Market vendors transitioning to successful brick and mortar locations and local chefs purchasing products for their restaurants on a regular basis are signs of a market that is fully integrated and serving as an economic engine in the community. The Downtown Farmers Market is a vibrant, healthy market that is a consistent source of economic impact on the local economy.

Excellence on Main Award

The CoLab

Awardee: Heather Dudley-Nollette and Frank DePalma

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2015

City: Port Townsend

Framed by floor-to-ceiling windows in an airy, cleverly designed 2,300 square foot space – created by local designers and contractors – the Port Townsend CoLab fosters inspiration and energy in Port Townsend. Coworking is the social gathering of a group of people who work independently but share values and take interest in the spillover effects that occur when talented people share a space. The concept appeals to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently and otherwise work in relative isolation. Port Townsend entrepreneurs Heather Dudley-Nollette and Frank DePalma researched the market for two years prior to making the decision that such a space was a sustainable business idea for the community.

The CoLab opened its doors on the second floor of the historic Elks Building in January 2013. It’s amenities include shared conference space, high speed internet, office equipment, a kitchen area serving locally roasted organic Sunrise Coffee, and a supportive sounding board for the members to brainstorm ideas and work together on projects. They offer targeted free and low-cost business classes to assist entrepreneurs and host the Young Professional Test Labs for the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, which is a peer-driven business topic brainstorm. The CoLab also offers one-on-one coaching sessions using volunteer services of Team Jefferson/EDC and CoLab members.

“Coworking is not only about the physical space but in the collaboration and innovation that comes from having creative people working in the same space,” said Sarah Hansen, former Washington State Main Street Program Coordinator. “The beautiful and clever reuse of this historic space has brought together 130 drop-in and meeting space users as well as 20 full and part-time entrepreneurs dedicated to fostering a healthy and vibrant economy in Port Townsend. It is sure to be a model for other communities across the country.”

Excellence on Main Award

Innovative Partnership Campaign

Awardee: Vancouver Downtown Association

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2015

City: Vancouver

The Vancouver Downtown Association (VDA) knew that the City of Vancouver was given the Innovative Partnership Zone designation by the State of Washington in an effort to attract more creative businesses. As one of two areas in the city that would receive special focus, the downtown association knew they would be working with several partners, including the Columbia River Economic Development Council and the City, and that it was the VDA’s responsibility to define downtown in a compelling way.

The VDA chose to fund two projects to tell Vancouver’s story and meet the identified goals of attracting visionary businesses and their employees to the downtown core. Additionally, VDA needed to identify ways to keep those employees as residents and demonstrate how nearby recreational opportunities and other quality of life factors are optimized in the city center.

The recruitment brochure is the reincarnation of a six-year-old version with updated information and partnerships and a new layout. The video component is intended to tell three stories about investing in downtown Vancouver: what it is like to live downtown, what it is like to own a business downtown, and what it is like to develop projects downtown.

Since the promotional materials were introduced, they have been incorporated into the region’s recruitment efforts and have been a valuable tool for landlords to fill spaces downtown. The video has been viewed nearly 9,000 times since it was posted, and the brochure has been viewed hundreds of times online and is in its second printing.

“The VDA has done an amazing job of communicating to the business community the value of a vibrant downtown,” says Sarah Hansen, Washington State Main Street Program Coordinator. “This high-spirited approach to business recruitment has been a great success and has really conveyed the personality of downtown Vancouver.”

Excellence on Main Award

Airways Brewing Company

Awardee: Alex and Dione Dittmar

Award: Entrepreneur of the Year

Year: 2015

City: Kent

Airways Brewing Company co-founders Alex and Dione Dittmar, along with their business partners Robby and Debbie Leviton, opened their original Brewery & Tap Room just outside of Kent’s historic district. Several years ago, these entrepreneurs expanded into downtown Kent with the Bistro. The space features a full kitchen serving lunch and dinner seven days a week and a huge outdoor patio with a stage and grill. Their presence extends beyond Washington as they export their award-winning beer to 37 states and Japan. They’ve won dozens of awards, including a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado for their Pre-Flight Pilsner.

Since it opened in 2011, the Bistro has become the go-to place in Kent for Washington craft brews and delicious food. It is often standing room only, and business has seen a 20% increase in revenue year after year; this has led to further expansion plans for 2015. Recently, an independent bakery opened next door, and the new outdoor space continues to generate exciting activity in the downtown core.

“Airways Brewing & Bistro has become a destination in historic downtown Kent,” said Sarah Hansen, former Washington State Main Street Program Coordinator. “Their commitment to the community and to making great beer extends beyond the boundaries of the Bistro, and we are thrilled to recognize their outstanding commitment to the Kent Downtown Partnership and the revitalization of downtown Kent.”

Excellence on Main Award

Claim Clothing

Awardee: Megan West and Linda Johnson

Award: Entrepreneur of the Year

Year: 2015

City: Ellensburg

Claim Clothing co-owner Megan West began sculpting her visions of a women’s boutique that caters to an array of fashion forward, affordable styles while working towards a degree at Central Washington University, where she helped craft the clothing section at the Wildcat Shop. After a year of building her business plan for Claim Clothing, Megan began to seek out funding but was repeatedly turned down from banks based on her young age of 22. She eventually teamed up with Linda Johnson, a business advisor at the Washington Small Business Development Center, to help her achieve her vision.

Claim Clothing’s 1,600 square foot location is in the middle of historic downtown Ellensburg in the newly renovated Geddis Building. The City had recently purchased the building, and Megan had to sell her vision to the City, the Ellensburg Business Development Authority, and the Ellensburg Downtown Association before she was approved to lease space.

With help from her family, she stripped the space to expose the original brick walls, and she used reclaimed barn wood, industrial pipe, and other material sourced mostly from local stores to complete the remodel on time and 10% under budget.

On May 3, 2014, Claim Clothing opened to the public and quickly became a success. With its original tagline, “Claim Your Closet,” Megan’s overall goal is to have every type of woman come into her store and embrace her body and personal style. Claim is a place where you feel as if you are in your own closet and where you can be completely comfortable and confident. The store features many different clothing brands such as Celebrity Pink and Gypsy Bound Bracelets, all catering to a wide age range and making Claim a diverse and unique place to shop.

As a downtown business, Megan has become a major asset to the community. She is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and has been involved with Ellensburg Downtown Association events. In spring 2014, Megan organized the first Fashion Night Out with the EDA and Mangos Salon, and it was a huge success. She has also made connections with Central Washington University by offering internships and mentoring opportunities.

After only six months of being open for business, Claim met its sales goal for the first year of operation. The store started with one employee and hired a second within five months, and they anticipate hiring a third this summer when they launch a fully functional online retail store. Megan explains that her success cannot be measured in numbers but that her success is defined by seeing her employees grow as individuals and witnessing her customer base increase by offering a unique and positive experience.

Excellence on Main Award

Orchard Corset

Awardee: Jeff and Leanna Kurpuis

Award: Excellence on Main Award

Year: 2015

City: Wenatchee

Opening in 1997, Orchard Corset is an industry leader in off-the-rack, steel-boned corsets. From humble beginnings selling vintage clothing on eBay, Jeff and Leanna Kurpuis have grown their company into one of the Wenatchee Valley’s largest online retailers. Having outgrown several locations over the years, the company was desperate for expansion space, and in May 2014, Orchard Corset found a new home in the historic Elks Lodge in downtown Wenatchee.

Construction was completed on the original lodge in 1922, but a major fire in 1958 necessitated a complete overhaul of the building, including the construction of its iconic and somewhat nondescript mid-century façade. When the Kurpuis’ purchased the building, it had sat unused for years – boards covering the basement windows had been in place for over 30 years.

This 40,000 square foot building is now bustling! All of Orchard Corsets’ inventory, shopping, web design, media production, and photography is done in-house. Since moving into the Elks Lodge the staff has grown from 13 to 25, and orders have been flooding in at the rate of close to 7,000 per month.

The interior of the lodge is being rebuilt and repaired and still features some fantastic amenities once enjoyed only by the Elks. Probably one of the highlights is the third-story ballroom, which has become an 8,000 square foot roller rink. Complete with chandeliers, 120 pairs of skates are available for employee use, and the Roller Derby girls use the space for practice twice a week. An indoor swimming pool in the basement should be rehabbed in time for July pool parties. Additional work will include upgrades to electrical and HVAC systems and the installation of high-speed fiber optic lines.

Not only have the Kurpuis’ breathed life into a Wenatchee landmark, they have created an amazing working environment for their valued employees; the Kurpuis’ understand that customer service is the key to their business’s success, and that happy employees make happy customers. Their generosity doesn’t stop there – they are huge supporters of the Wenatchee Downtown Association. They have funded a scholarship program to any business, new or old, that needs training in online marketing and promotions, which includes a membership in the Wenatchee Downtown Association. They also are willing and able to provide mentoring and support to downtown businesses in need of a boost.

“Orchard Corset has been an incredibly dynamic addition to Wenatchee’s downtown district, and their love and care of the historic Elks Lodge is truly a game-changer,” said Sarah Hansen, former Washington State Main Street Coordinator. “Jeff, Leanne, and their entire staff have become supporters and mentors to all entrepreneurs in Wenatchee, and we are honored to recognize their incredible generosity and commitment to Wenatchee with the Excellence on Main Award.”

Excellence on Main Award

Colfax Mercantile

Awardee: Colfax Downtown Association

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2020

City: Colfax

The Colfax Mercantile was first imagined by the Colfax Downtown Association’s Economic Vitality committee – researching business incubator programs in other towns to pick just the right pieces to fit their vision. They knew they wanted to attract and educate entrepreneurs about how to run a business so they could fill storefronts and bring a buzz back to historic downtown buildings. They began by saving one themselves.

The 1893 Ellis-Waite building on Main Street had been vacant and boarded up for 15 years when a partnership between the Economic Vitality committee and local business owners Laura and Austin Storm determined that one of the three storefronts within the property would become the Colfax Mercantile. The other storefronts are also being revitalized with plans for the Storms to expand their retail business already underway. The Mercantile vision added incentive to the investment being made by the Storms, who say they feel like there is a Colfax downtown revival going on right now.

That downtown revival includes seven new businesses that are being incubated in the Colfax Mercantile that now offer vintage finds, frozen yogurt, homemade cookies, furniture, and clothing. The new incubator businesses have created a ripple effect on Main Street – more shops are opening, more storefronts are being updated and filled, and more people from surrounding areas are recognizing Colfax as the gem that it is.

The Downtown Association, Chamber of Commerce, County and City, Mayor, business owners, and citizens all pitched in to make this business incubator a reality – from sweat equity updating the storefront to donating 80 umbrellas to create a one-of-a-kind ceiling display, this is truly a community project.

Excellence on Main Award

Phoebe & Jonathan Carpenter Eells

Award: Entrepreneur of the Year

Year: 2020

City: Mount Vernon

Phoebe Carpenter Eells was a well-loved middle school teacher in 2009 when she rediscovered a love (and a knack!) for linocut block printing. She turned this hobby into a side hustle and, as sometimes happens when great passion and talent collide — 10 years later finds herself the owner of an historic downtown building and two flourishing businesses. If you want to keep up with Phoebe and Jonathon, her husband and business partner, you’ll have to lace up your sneakers.

After successfully making and selling art as a hobby, in 2012 Phoebe decided to turn her craft into full time work with business elSage Designs. She began vending at a local farmers market that summer, and within a few years, had expanded to multiple markets, regional craft shows, and wholesale production for retail outlets both local and out of state. The enterprise grew so much that in 2014 Jonathon also resigned his middle school teaching position to dedicate himself full time to the family venture. In 2016, the couple signed a lease on their first brick-and-mortar location downtown. Phoebe and Jonathon celebrated their one-year storefront anniversary by holding a pop-up makers market in their parking lot, complete with live music and a food truck. The event included a dozen other artisans, their way of paying it forward and encouraging others.

Like so much of what Phoebe and Jonathan touch, the market was successful, brought people together, enhanced the local economy, and catapulted them into a new business arm – regular artisan events known as Valley Made Markets.

Of course, that wasn’t all Phoebe and Jonathon were up to. In the last two years, the couple has purchased and renovated the historic building in which they were originally tenants, moved elSage to a prime retail location on Mount Vernon’s Main Street, and opened a second business (Fern Creative Coworking) in their newly renovated building. The coworking space realized a long-held recruitment priority of the Mount Vernon Downtown Association but even more importantly clearly filled a community need since initial membership subscriptions reached the equivalent of 8 FTEs – within one month of opening!

There is so much to admire about Phoebe and Jonathan – their grit, work ethic, love of family, and dedication to lifting others up.

Excellence on Main Award

Mercantile Wenatchee

Awardee: Jeff & Heather Ostenson and Rick & Cory Wray

Award: Excellence on Main Award

Year: 2020

City: Wenatchee

We honor Wenatchee’s coworking space, The Mercantile, and its owners Jeff & Heather Ostenson and Rick & Cory Wray for their transformative rehabilitation of an historic building in the heart of downtown and their tremendous dedication to community and collaboration.

Linda Haglund, executive director of the Wenatchee Downtown Association, won’t mince words about the state of the building before the foursome got their hands on it. Originally built as a mercantile, the Ellis-Forde Building has been a staple of the city center since 1905. It was a Sears-Roebuck, then a JCPenney, and after that a Bonanza. The Emporium apartments were in the upper floors. Over a hundred years of Wenatchee history is infused in the bones of this building, and now it provides a future-focused service for entrepreneurs and remote employees who have made wonderful Wenatchee home.

But before the grand opening last fall, there was a tremendous amount of work to bring the Ellis-Forde Building into the 21st century. Heather took on researching the history of the building and worked with local historians and the city to keep character where it existed and bring it back to light where it had been hidden. Where possible, they highlighted original elements like the brick they exposed on the south wall of the front lobby and the windows facing the alley that had been bricked over. Where new materials were needed, the team chose with sourcing and sustainability in mind – such as the timber purchased from a Colville lumber company that conserves old growth through responsibly harvesting practices.

The success of The Mercantile’s restoration inspired other building owners downtown, and the Ostensons and Wrays are generous in passing their wisdom on to these other projects.

The partners have created an open and collaborative culture within The Mercantile, which represents 31 unique businesses and nonprofits, and offers conference rooms and event space for the public. The vision of the Merc – to promote health, happiness and productivity in your workplace – is as evergreen as our state.

Excellence on Main Award

Goodfellow Brothers

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2019

City: Wenatchee

In Spring 2016 the Wenatchee Downtown Association hosted its biannual Possibilities Tour, an initiative that showcases vacant downtown properties and provides vision and resources for rehabilitating historic spaces. On this particularly tour, the Dore Building’s new owner group led by Rory Turner guided the participants up a set of spooky stairs to the neglected upper floor. Amidst pigeons flying out from the rafters, Chris Martin was able to see the possibilities of this key downtown building.

Chris manages Pacific Rim Land Inc., a real estate development company and was on the Possibilities tour representing Goodfellow Bros., a fourth generation, family-owned general contractor company that was started in Wenatchee nearly 100 years ago and now boasts an impressive portfolio that spans the Western United States. Despite the company’s reach, they are committed to their Wenatchee roots and were looking for a new office for their Washington-based employees.

Goodfellow Bros. chose to start their search in downtown Wenatchee because of the district’s restaurant scene. As Chris puts it, “There is an aura of change and growth in the air downtown. Millennials opt for urban environments and the offerings they provide.”

The project kept the company’s employee wishes in mind throughout the design and construction phases. Goodfellow Bros. purchased the upper floor of the Dore Building and set to work tackling the challenges and unusable spaces left behind by previous owners. Two years and $2.9 million in private investment later and the upper floor of the building is a beautiful and dynamic work environment enjoyed by nearly 50 employees.

At a time when downtown Wenatchee is facing the proposed exodus of the downtown PUD campus and the 400 employees who occupy that location, Goodfellow Bros.’ investment in the district has been particularly impactful on the restaurants and other businesses that rely on the regular foot traffic that downtown employees provide. Goodfellow Bros. has proven their dedication to their hometown community, which in turn has embraced the company with open arms. Chris notes that not a week has gone by when he hasn’t met someone with a story about how Goodfellow Bros. has played a role in their or their family’s lives. With their investment downtown, it’s safe to say that Goodfellow Bros. will continue making an impact on Wenatchee for generations to come.

Excellence on Main Award

Mario Alfaro Lopez

Award: Entrepreneur of the Year

Year: 2019

City: Ellensburg

Mario Alfaro Lopez is the definition of dreams coming true through hard work, dedication, and kindness. He will say he is “not a chef,” however, his success in running a food truck turned full service restaurant would say otherwise!

Mario launched the Red Pickle food truck in 2016. His cuisine, focused largely on food inspired by his Guatemalan roots, was an immediate hit and he found various events and venues from which to expose his business. After striking up a friendship with another local business – Whipsaw Brewing – the Red Pickle became a staple at the brewery and was able to build up a regular clientele.

As he grew his business, Mario kept an eye out for the perfect brick and mortar location, a place that would allow him to expand his food offerings and showcase his passion for mixology. When a former coffee shop on Pine Street in downtown Ellensburg became available, Mario jumped on it. His dream of owning his own cocktail bar and restaurant became a reality in November 2018 when he opened the doors to The Red Pickle.

The community is thrilled to see Mario succeed in opening his restaurant. Having the Red Pickle downtown in its new capacity has not only increased foot traffic and created a new dining experience, but it has reminded the community that when you support your favorite local spots, they grow into something even more amazing.

As a business owner Mario has embraced innovation and community-mindedness. He hosted pop-up dinners in funky locations and volunteered his time to speak to leadership and entrepreneurship classes. He sources his products from local farmers and is always looking for ways to contribute to the success of the downtown district. He connects with customers and treats them like family, brings joy to the community, and supports others. It is no surprise to hear Mario’s philosophy on food is that “sharing a meal is an expression of love.”