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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Business

Web site opens virtual frontiers for rural businesses

From staff reports

“The Virtual Frontier” is a new Web site launched by a nonprofit in Republic, Wash., to help rural businesses tap a wider market.

The nonprofit, Stone Soup, has been conducting small-business training in Northeast Washington’s Ferry County, but graduates of the program needed a bigger market for their products than that county’s 7,200 residents, said Betty Buckley, founder and executive director of Stone Soup.

Using a $250,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Stone Soup developed the Virtual Frontier. The Web site,, offers handicrafts, jewelry, furniture and other products made by rural entrepreneurs.

Stone Soup wants to expand the Web site’s offerings to include small businesses in other rural communities in Washington and North Idaho. Businesses in communities with fewer than 20,000 people will qualify.

The Web site charges businesses $225 a year to offer their products, plus a 30 percent commission on sales. For more information on the Web site or Stone Soup, call (509) 775-3217 or e-mail

Two new firms specialize in chocolate

Chocoholics, beware. Two new Spokane businesses are specializing in fine chocolates.

Julia Balassa-Myracle has opened a gourmet chocolate-making company called Chocolate Myracles.

The business currently is based at the kitchen incubator at Spokane Airport Business Park, but Balassa-Myracle hopes to have a certified kitchen in her home early next year, she said.

She began making chocolates for family and friends, and expanded her hobby into a business with the help of the Inland Northwest Women’s Business Center.

The other new business, called Chocolate Apothecary, opened last week in the Flour Mill.

Owner Susan Davis – a one-time pharmacy student – is offering fine chocolates from around the world, plus some bakery items and beverages, she said.

Chocolate Apothecary is located in the old Pottery Place location on the Flour Mill’s main level.

For information on Chocolate Myracles, call (509) 995-1271, or e-mail Chocolate Apothecary can be reached at (509) 324-2424.

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