Admiring our ‘neighborhood’ retail community

by Sierra Lauder
Director of Events and Downtown Development

So much of the work as a Main Street Coordinator is behind the scenes, carrying information, attending meetings and sharing what I’ve learned with business owners around town, and bringing their stories forward at other meetings. Sometimes the work is good old-fashioned networking; introducing one person to another because they share an overlapping interest or idea.

The most important aspect of my work with the Chamber is the relationship and partnership-building role, and there is nothing quite as rewarding as watching those connections blossom in to events, products, or collaborations. I got to witness a lot of that this last week.

If you follow Lucky Bear Soap Co. or Sunflower Flats on facebook, you may have seen a video last week of the soap making process for the Lucky Sunflower Soap, a special blend of soap that is a great example of local collaboration. Lucky Bear Soap Co. makes several collaborative soaps with local businesses, including a series of beer soaps that feature seasonal ales from Pelican Brewing Company. If you happen to find yourself at the Pelican Tap Room, you may also notice they now feature desserts from Sarasota’s – the downtown bakery that is hosting this week’s #constructdowntown Sweepstakes drawing. Last week’s hosts, Art Accelerated (the nonprofit art organization that has the gallery on Third St.) is also in cahoots with the Pelican Tap Room; they are co-hosting a Paint Night on December 1st that is already sold out! This first of many future paint nights is a fundraiser, and the proceeds will be divided between Art Accelerated’s after school children’s program and the local food bank.

Art Accelerated also partners with Yo Time each month for an Open Mic Night. Every third Saturday, Yo Time is packed with artists, musicians and writers, who take turns on the mic to tell stories, share poetry and song. Any time you pop in to Yo Time, you’re likely to notice the gorgeous flower arrangements they have on display near the fireplace. I noticed it very closely last night as I rescued it from near catastrophe as one of my boys displayed his best sugar-induced ninja move, and realized that those lovely flowers are from Anderson’s Florists, who will be hosting the sweepstakes in a couple of weeks.

I could go on like this for pages; the “neighborhood” retail community in Tillamook is truly amazing, supportive, and growing increasingly cohesive. Coordinating this #constructdowntown Sweepstakes has really been an exercise in embracing this partnership culture. There are some fascinating studies floating around about small town downtown revitalization and theories for creating vibrant and healthy clusters. Those conversations can quickly get technical and heavy with phrases like “mixed-use” and “creative place-making,” which are valuable pieces, but they don’t give justice to the people and the personalities that truly create the experiences. It’s all of us – business and property owners, local regular customers, local occasional customers, and visitors – who contribute to the culture we have downtown, and as we brave another wet winter and watch the transformation on our physical space that the highway project brings us, it is uplifting to see the continuing investment in our community.