Bay St. starts year high, dry

As the downtown Port Orchard merchants continue to clean up from the floods that ravaged the region during December, several report their businesses are doing just fine.

During the past year merchants and community members have worked to spruce up Bay Street, and with the help of the city the commercial center has a newly overlayed sidewalk, flower pots and fresh coats of paint on several buildings.

And despite the floods, that work led to more business at Amy’s on the Bay, the Cutlery Shoppe and the Candy Shoppe in the shopping days leading up to Christmas.

“Port Orchard was really good to us,” said Cutlery Shoppe owner Mickey Nickel. “People came down and really tried to shop. Our regulars came back after the flooding.”

Nickel said Port Orchard residents are dedicated and cognizant of the need to support local businesses.

“When people in Port Orchard say they’ll be back, they really do come back,” she said.

Amy Igloi of Amy’s on the Bay said that compared to previous holiday seasons, the restaurant faired well.

“We were pretty slow,” Igloi said of the 2006 Christmas season. “We were definitely up (this year).”

Igloi’s business has only been helped by the opening of The Orchard, a theater at 802 Bay Street, which was previously operated by Councilman Robert Geiger.

Rebecca Charbonneau, manager of The Candy Shoppe, said Christmas is regularly the biggest time of the year, and her business has had strong sales for the seven years its been in business.

“Christmas is our busiest season, so I work every day,” she said.

And those merchants are quick to give credit to the clean-up efforts.

“I’ve had lots of customers come in and say how nice Port Orchard looks, and that’s never happened in seven years,” Charbonneau said. “I’ve had people come in and say they wanted to do their shopping in Port Orchard.”

But not every merchant had the same luck, Port Orchard Bay Street Association President Mallory Jackson said. Her business, Custom Picture Framing, peaked in the fall.

“With the flood down here, and the press and all the articles, I think a lot of people thought Bay Street was closed,” Jackson said.

But being a service industry, Jackson noted that many head into her shop earlier.

“My customers know they need to get this stuff in early,” Jackson said, but noted that even then it was a slower year. “It didn’t have as much of a Christmas rush as it did in the past.”

And she also noted that some businesses may have suffered from temporary closures because of the floods, or changes in business.

In her building, one business left, making way for another, and That’s Beadiful moved several doors down, leaving on store vacant.

Dennis Lei’s Puget Sound Wine Cellar has been closed, with a note on the door explaining an illness in the family, and Jackson said closures like that can affect other businesses — when someone comes by for their wine, they might stop at another store while they are at it.

But the new year is looking bright for Bay Street, with a new theater and a dance gallery with its own merchandise shop, many are excited for the future of the commercial core.

“It made it a nicer place to go to,” Nickel said of the clean-up and newly opened stores. “It made it much more eye-appealing.”

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