The 15th Ave East Merchants Association is ready to become a more noticeable presence.
“I always liken Capitol Hill to the united neighborhoods of Capitol Hill,” said Ross Kling, director of the nonprofit and owner of 15th Ave’s Rainbow Natural Remedies. “All these neighborhoods have a uniqueness.”
For Kling and his group of merchants — open to anybody with a physical storefront along 15th Ave E and a one-block radius from Denny to Galer — it’s the association of the area with Volunteer Park and the historic Conservatory and, Kling says, a customer base more dependent on local shoppers, diners and drinkers.
“We created a Washington state non-profit whose purpose is to act as a leader for the improvement of the economic vitality of the 15th Avenue East,” read the flyer for the group’s first big meeting held in October as a reception at Coastal Kitchen.
The board of directors probably includes a few of your favorite 15th Ave businesses:
- President: Ross Kling, Rainbow Natural Remedies
- Vice President: Jeremy Hardy, Coastal Kitchen
- Treasurer: Mike Burke, Hilltop Service Station
- Secretary: Bob Brenlin, Hopvine Pub
- Director: Ray Angel, Angel’s Shoe Repair
- Director: Tom Spangler, Spangler Insurance
The nonprofit’s first step after incorporating over the summer and naming Kling director is a simple effort in old-school marketing — association window stickers. Kling says more association marketing and branding around holiday or coupon promotions could be part of future plans. The formal organization also opens the doors to city grants and gathers the business district’s clout as City Hall issues like parking come along.
In 2012, CHS looked in on the early plans for the 15th Ave group as other similar efforts were growing around the Hill. The 15th Ave organization is the only of the bunch to formalize. Meanwhile, Kling emphasized that the group isn’t opposed to the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce’s efforts and sees its work as complementary to the merchants. The larger chamber is moving forward with plans for expansion of the Broadway Business Improvement Area — but that effort is being shaped to target growth in Pike/Pine.
A City of Seattle study of the area a few years back showed the restaurants and stores responding to its survey averaged more than 12 years of business. “The biggest threats to the 15th Avenue commercial district are thought to be encroachment of franchise businesses and the anticipated expansion of the Group Health campus,” the study’s 15th Ave analysis concluded. So far, those warnings don’t seem to have been on mark for a 15th Ave where growth and change is coming quickly. Earlier this week, CHS tallied some of the change as we reported on Nuflours bakery replacing the longtime North Hill Bakery on the street:
Nearby, Ada’s Technical Books opened its new home and cafe. Just north, theLost Lake crew is preparing to overhaul The Canterbury. Across the street, demolition for a new four-story apartment building will come early in the new year. Meanwhile, the bakery ranks of the neighborhood have already been massively strengthened with the addition of Bakery Nouveau’s Capitol Hill location at 15th and John earlier this year.
There are no Facebook pages, Twitter accounts or websites, yet, for the 15th Ave E Merchants. To get involved in the meantime, you’ll need to stop into one of the shops. Dues are $75 for 2014.