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Opinion

Gina Campbell: Makeover will make North Monroe safer and more robust

I started my business in September 2016 knowing that the construction project was looming on the horizon. I weighed the options, and though entrepreneurship always carries some risk, I threw my hat over the wall. Those first few months were both exhilarating and scary. In July of 2016 I expanded my business by moving to a larger location six blocks north – bringing me closer to some other great small businesses like Brickyard Barbershop, Vessel Coffee, Rogue Heart Media and Kingsley and Scout.

It’s now 16 months later, and the North Monroe project is just weeks away. It’s still exhilarating and scary, but my husband and I have since sold our house in Indian Trail and purchased a house just steps away from my store. So there’s no doubt about it … we are all in!

Why did we want to invest so heavily in this neighborhood? I’d like to think it’s because I’m such a risk taker and visionary. Honestly, it probably isn’t that. I am excited for the project because I look forward to belonging wholeheartedly to a neighborhood. I truly believe the road diet will make the street quieter and safer. Road diets across the globe have made neighborhoods more conducive to walking and cycling and made businesses more noticeable to passers-by, and the space gained by dieting the road often means more parking and wider parking bays in front of businesses. I live, work and play in this neighborhood, so the idea that I could walk from my house to a local pub or restaurant safely is incredibly appealing. That customers could find me more easily or discover that I’m here because they aren’t flying by at the speed of sound is more than appealing. I love my store – it’s my dream job, and I’m giddy to walk in the door every day. I believe my business has more of a chance of thriving in a neighborhood that is robust, safe and attractive.

I’ve been asked if I’m afraid of going out of business because of the construction that will be required to reduce the lanes and add the street improvements. I would be living in la-la land if I didn’t have some apprehension. However, there are reasons why I am optimistic enough not only to expand my business but to move into the neighborhood. As a member of the North Monroe Business District and a board member, I know I’m among like-minded business owners and residents. These are committed folks, busy as heck but willing to spend time making this corridor all it can be. I know I have a network of support from people in the same boat as myself. With a little planning and some collaboration we can help pull each other through any hard times.

I’m also impressed by the effort that the city of Spokane has put forth to make sure that this project has as little impact on businesses as possible. Already I’ve met with someone from the Small Business Administration – at no cost to me – to help with planning and financial forecasting. I know exactly whom to call if there are obstacles during the actual construction – I’ve met that person and they’ve visited my business! The actual project is also designed for as little impact as possible. I’m happy to say that the city has learned lessons from downtown and East Sprague projects and is applying those lessons to North Monroe. Monies have also been allocated to help educate the public, through an awareness campaign, that it really will be “business as usual” during the road project.

Finally, though, and most importantly, I’m excited and optimistic because I love this dang city! It’s come a long way, baby! I am grateful that I get to do what I love in a city that’s growing and becoming all it can be. Between breaks in remodeling the little 1905 bungalow we just bought, we can partake in a neighborhood that makes me smile. When the weather grows warm, my husband and I will walk down to Bellwether Brewing for a cold one, and if it’s Friday, we will stop at the Emerson-Garfield Farmers Market and get some fresh bread. Even now, when I walk to work, I pass by the windows at the Brickyard and the barbers are always hard at work. It just feels comforting. To me it’s evidence that there’s life in this neighborhood and it is just going to get better!

Gina Campbell is the proprietor and vintage enthusiast (with creative business partner Jamie Flanery) of 1889 Salvage Co – a vintage home decor store at 2824 N. Monroe St.


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