March 21, 2013 in Washington Voices

Business-minded women

By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Business women in the Garland District include from left, Mandi Somday-Doucoure, Robin Hoffman, Bonnie Quinn, Erica Shepard, Kea Woodfill, Julie Shepard-Hall, Rosa Wiess, Ronnie Ryno, Carly the dog with owner Kendra Cunningham and Amy Cutler.
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Businesses in the burgeoning Garland District have more in common than just their location. Most of them – from Tinman Gallery to Celebrations Bakery to the Garland Sandwich Shoppe – are owned by women.

“We call it ‘Girls on Garland,’ ” said Bonnie Quinn, owner of Quinn Group Advertising and Marketing. Her father started the Quinn Group in 1969 and the business moved to the Garland locale in 1976.

Rosa Wiess of Clear Choice Tax Services is one of the newest additions. The business is owned by Wiess, Carol Lacambra and De Ann Karan. “We just opened in January,” she said. “We’re excited to be here. This is a great community.”

The eclectic neighborhood, easily identified by landmarks like the Milk Bottle and the Garland Theatre, is home to coffee shops, art galleries, clothing stores and more.

Quinn said she’s seen a lot of changes in the area and traces its revitalization to the Garland Street Fair. “Sue Bradley from Tinman Gallery spearheaded the whole street fair concept and really made it happen,” said Quinn, who serves as president of the Garland Business District.

The popular annual event draws hundreds of people each summer. Quinn said, “Last year we added a block party with nighttime music, a fashion show and a beer garden.” The party proved so successful that this year they plan to separate the two events. The street fair will be July 20 and the block party, Aug. 17.

Seeing the community turn out to explore the shops and restaurants gave business owners a glimpse of what the future could hold. “Small-business owners can be small-minded in their thinking,” Quinn said. “But I’ve seen a re-sparking of the district.”

Julie Shepard-Hall agreed. She owns Integrity Insurance Solutions. Shepard-Hall worked out of her home for several years. “When I wanted a storefront, I looked at the Garland District.”

She’s enjoyed working in the area so much that last year she launched a second business in the neighborhood. She and her daughter, Erica Shepard, opened Zipperz, a consignment clothing shop for women.

Shepard-Hall said the changes are exciting. “We have more younger business owners – more artistic – more hip.”

One of those new business owners is Ronnie Ryno. She opened Glamarita almost two years ago. The store features clothing, accessories and artwork. “Everything is handmade by local designers,” said Ryno. “We do fashion shows, custom work and alterations, too.”

Fashion and style also take center stage nearby at the Diva Dog Pet Boutique. “We are Spokane’s premium pet boutique of designer apparel and accessories for the pampered pet,” said owner, Kendra Cunningham. Her pooch, Carly, strutted her stuff in a stunning purple and blue gown, with a matching purple bow on her head.

Down the street at Interiors by Robin, owner Robin Hoffman specializes in residential interior design. Her showroom features fabrics, tile samples, a wall-covering library and home accessories. “I liked the feel of the neighborhood, so I purchased the building,” she said of her location choice.

Other women-owned businesses include hair salons like, Fierce and Fabulous, Karmony Salon and Day Spa and Concepts.

Amy Cutler, from Garland Church, isn’t a business owner, but she too has been delighted by the reawakening of the neighborhood. She serves on the board of the Garland Business District. “We want to see this place succeed and prosper,” she said. “We love it. It’s about community and neighbors.”

Indeed, Quinn said during events like the street fair, “It’s really cool to see churches working together with bars.”

The Girls on Garland hope to see ongoing revitalization. “We want to continue to attract destination retail business,” said Quinn.

They also want to attract business owners who share their affection for the area. “We’re passionate about our neighborhood. We want to make it fun for people to come here,” said Shepard-Hall. “We want to make a difference.”

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