A New Way of Shopping and Dining in Edmonds
In the last year it has felt like everything has changed while time somehow stood still.
Over the 12 months, we’ve all experienced so many changes to our daily lives. We have also witnessed how our local businesses have pivoted and adapted to a constantly changing landscape of rules and phases. It’s a bit hard to believe we’ve already arrived in March 2021. Yet here we are and we figured it was a good time to reflect and check in with a few local residents to get their thoughts, too.
This past spring, when many people were sent to work from home at the same time, our brick and mortar shops were forced to close down to foot traffic. To solve the problem of how to still have customers shop local, a group of over 20 local retailers came together to develop “survival kits” featuring products focused on different themes that were available online.
“I am working from home now, as the campus I worked on has been closed since March of last year. This has prompted a variety of changes in how I patronized the local shops, restaurants and bars. I purchased some packages through the Edmonds Localvore site early on when the lockdown was first implemented,” Edmonds resident Eric Allred told us.
The Localvore Survival Kit project proved extremely popular with customers, selling over 1,100 kits over the past year. As retailers and restaurants have been able to once again open their doors to customers, Edmonds Localvore is excited to bring a 4 day in person event to downtown—with 26 businesses participating. The event makes it easy for people to support local businesses in a safe and compelling way. To see more about the upcoming event, visit edmondslocalvore.com.
The business collaborations didn’t end with the Localvore kits. Other businesses found ways to support each other during this time as well. We have seen many local businesses doing joint promotions and social media shares.
“This has been my favorite part of the pandemic, seeing local businesses stepping up to help each other. We participated in Coldwell Banker Bain’s pumpkin carving contest where we won a gift card to Teri’s Toybox, we have seen Daphne’s and Cline Jewelers raffling and gifting local business and restaurant gift cards, and we love to see delicious Cottage Bakery bread at Walnut Street Coffee on Thursdays,” resident Terra Mangum enthused.
More partnerships took place during the traditional holiday shopping season when the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce developed their Edmonds Cash program that encouraged local spending. And Ed! unveiled the Festive Drink Bingo that had patrons sipping delightful concoctions from a variety of locations throughout downtown for a chance to win prizes.
“I love how all the restaurants/bars/and businesses really worked together and you feel like they had each other’s backs. Edmonds is a great place, small and supportive of everyone. We never feel like we are ‘cheating’ on Kelnero by going to Daphnes, or Salt & Iron by going to Leftcraft. Everyone really wants everyone else to be successful,” shared Heidi Plum.
When indoor dining was restricted, restaurants had to quickly pivot to takeout options and curbside pickup, even coming up with new offerings altogether.
“Kelnero is a shining example of creative flexibility. They created a marketplace and liquor store and made it super simple to order online and via an app (toast tab). They set up a super safe, minimal contact system to pick up items and came up with great ideas to virtualize their tasting programs,” Barry and Heidi Plum both said.
Other restaurants offered cook-at-home options in addition to takeout which offered customers flexibility in how they could enjoy and consume meals. Newcomer Fire & the Feast has a selection of make at home options on their to go menu.
“We really enjoy the take-and-bake meals offered by some restaurants. By finishing it off in the oven, it’s “almost” like eating at the restaurant,” said local Melissa Takade.
What began as an idea shared by local travel guru Rick Steves in an interview where he reminisced about the pedestrian-friendly town squares he missed visiting in Europe, quickly developed into a program supported by the City of Edmonds that closed Main Street to vehicles on the weekends during the summer.
“Closing Main Street was a great move by the City of Edmonds to help provide extra outdoor space for diners and shoppers,” Barry Plum said.
With the street a wide open space, retailers were able to bring merchandise out to the sidewalks and offer specialty pop-ups, restaurants were able to expand outdoor seating into the sidewalks and street, and visitors were able to stroll Main Street while keeping safe distances from other shoppers and diners.
Barry’s wife Heidi added, “When things first started to shut down last year, I was very worried about all our friends that owned businesses, bars and restaurants in Edmonds. Together we decided that we would do our best to support them, we did lots of takeout. As summer came and we were able to eat outside, it was easier to show our support in person, which meant a lot to us and our friends. We try to eat out or do takeout at least 1-2 times a week (at first we were doing 4-5 times, but then it got kind of expensive). Some of our favorites are Ono Poke, Kelnero, Scratch, Leftcraft, Salt & Iron, Epulo, Calypso, The Cheesemonger’s Table, Thai by Day, and SanKai.”
As warm weather continued through the summer and into the fall, the popularity of outdoor dining was a big hit with locals and visitors alike. But as cooler and rainier weather approached, and indoor restrictions remained, how could our restaurants continue to serve their clientele? Enter the concept of “streateries”.
Visit downtown Edmonds and you will notice a bevy of outdoor dining structures lining the streets nowadays. Stemming from the popularity of Walkable Main Street, Streateries is now an officially permitted City of Edmonds program allowing our dining establishments to safely offer covered outdoor seating to their patrons during the winter months.
“I like the way the outdoor seating has expanded the footprint of many of the businesses. I hope that the City of Edmonds continues to support this program,” Allred shared.
Even as indoor dining has begun to open up, many customers still prefer to dine outdoors, and with only 25% capacity currently allowed, the Streateries program gives establishments the important ability to serve additional clientele.
One thing has been abundantly clear throughout the last 12 months, residents in Edmonds want to support our local businesses and our business owners are innovators willing to go that extra mile to serve their customers. So we asked our locals directly: What is your favorite thing about living and shopping/dining/doing business in Edmonds?
“I love the experience of being in the core of downtown. The business owners and staff, who I have come to know over the years, really give the feeling of an intimate small town experience. It’s the long standing personal connection that differentiates Edmonds from the broader Seattle downtown experience,” offered Allred.
Takade enthusiastically said, “So many things to list! We lived here in the late 90s/early 2000s, moved away for work, and then moved back. We knew moving back, we had to make Edmonds our home again. It has an intimate feel with the farmer’s market, the theater, specialty shops, and fabulous restaurants. The ECA provides a reason to stay local for musical performances. All of this with a stunning backdrop of the Puget Sound! My sister, who lives in the Bay Area, fell in love with Edmonds during her many visits with us. Now she follows a lot of the restaurants on social media and reads My Edmonds News to keep up with everything! That’s the magic of Edmonds.”
The Plums shared, “Definitely the small businesses. It’s great getting to know the owners of the shops and knowing that when you buy something, you’re making a difference in their lives. Also the community, we’ve come to find kindred souls at many of the places we frequent.”
Mangum gave this personal perspective, “I love shopping and dining locally as I see my money reinvested into the community and supporting local families we love. By supporting local businesses, I have made new relationships with employees and owners such as Jack at Brigid’s Bottleshop and Beth at Ombu. My kids played soccer with the incredible Hunniwater family and we love adding “kindness” to our daily routine, our daughter took dance with Liz’s daughter (FIELD by Morgan and Moss), I am being spoiled by attention from Kali Kelnero who I went to high school with, and our teen has been able to remain employed by the delightful Aimee at Pelindaba Lavender through the pandemic. When we shop and dine in our own town it supports our neighbors and their families which is a beautiful thing. We have such exceptional dining, shopping, and services from downtown to the international district along Highway 99, border to border in Edmonds.”
Thank you locals for sharing your thoughts! And thank you to our entire community for the outpouring of support over the last year.
For more information about all the local businesses in downtown Edmonds, please visit http://edmondsdowntown.org/.
By Kelsey Foster, photos by Matt Hulbert