Published December 30, 2012
Thurston County's new-in-2012 businesses reflect on progressROLF BOONE
The Olympian successfully relaunched its Sunday business page in 2012, creating the opportunity to take a closer look at some of the businesses in Thurston County. About 30 businesses have been profiled since last spring, everything from a body-care products manufacturer in Tumwater called Alaffia to a women’s consignment clothing business in Lacey called Worldly Girl. In between, we have profiled manufacturers, retailers, restaurants and bakeries. Before the year is up, though, we thought we’d catch up with a few of those business owners to find out how the rest of the year transpired. Kitson Boards: Carbon fiber paddle board manufacturer, Kitson Boards, which launched last spring, was so busy this year that it doubled its orders and is now set to move to a bigger space at the Port of Olympia’s Swantown Marina, spokeswoman Heather Hoskins said. “It was definitely a good year for the business,” she said, adding that business growth and exposure was stimulated by attending paddle board racing events, such as a two-day affair in Dana Point, Calif., called Battle of the Paddle. OlyVegan: The downtown Olympia retailer, which bills itself as a vegan lifestyle store, sells vegan food, clothes and vintage housewares. “Things have gone great,” owner Lesli Baker said, pointing out the business reached its one-year anniversary on Dec. 11. Holiday shopping has helped, too, she said. Holiday-themed boxes of chocolates proved popular with customers and the overall inventory has grown, Baker said. The business is carrying more vegan chocolate products, as well as vegan Parmesan cheese and kale chips, for example. Business is so good that she’s hoping to pay herself in 2013. “That would make it even better,” Baker said. Studio 23 Metalworks: Paul DesJardien, co-owner of Studio 23 Metalworks, an Olympia-based custom steel design business, said business rises and falls with the construction season: busier in summer and slower in fall and winter, although things picked up in December with an order to design some tables. Studio 23 is known for its steel fabrication and furniture design work, which is focused on the high-end residential market. DesJardien and business partner Mike Rathke also collect 1980s-era electronic organs. They formed the Olympia Organ Preservation Society, or Oops, and continue to have regular jam sessions at work, DesJardien said. The Skep & Skein Tavern: The Olympia business takes its name from two things available at the tavern: a skep is a dome-shaped beehive and a skein (pronounced “skeyn”) is a quantity of yarn. A knitting circle regularly meets at the business. Owner Dave Ross said he continues to make mead and continues to draw customers who are familiar with mead– mead is wine made from honey — but were unaware of the tavern. One recent mead on tap was a habanero cherry, and he’s set to begin work on black currant, blackberry and boysenberry meads for next spring. True to his word, the tavern still has no big-screen TV, Ross said, hoping that customers will share in each other’s good company rather than zone out on some TV program. George & Sons Fruit Market: Owner George Mollas said it was a good year for the fruit stand on Lilly Road, between Pacific Avenue and Martin Way in Olympia. In addition to fruits and vegetables, inventory has grown to about 900 items, he said, including local eggs, milk, fruit baskets and fresh coffee. Apples, cabbage, local onions, lettuce and potatoes continue to be hot items at the fruit stand. “We hope next year will be just as good or better,” Mollas said.