6 Bellingham Businesses That Don’t Exist, But Probably Should
Have you ever had one of those moments where you really want to go do something, or eat a particular sort of food, and you have to face the disappointing reality that no Bellingham business offers that service? We here at BBN know that feeling, and we decided to take inventory of the best ideas we’ve heard for non-existent Bellingham businesses. Here are a few of our favorites:
Fresh Salad Restaurant with Delivery
It’s no secret that Bellingham has a well-established and creative vegetarian & vegan community. Delicious options for any dietary preference can be found in the majority of local eateries (even though very few are fully vegetarian). And yet the local scene is noticeably lacking a business which specifically caters to that great mainstay of vegetarian cuisine: the salad.
Thanks to the fine folks at Viking Food, you can get pretty much any kind of food delivered straight to your door. A salad, however, usually doesn’t even register on the delivery radar. A custom order salad, possibly made with local ingredients and a rotating seasonal menu, is something even the most steadfast carnivore should be able to appreciate. Throw in the ability to have that salad delivered to your door, and you have a recipe for successful business. The market is there – it just needs a willing entrepreneur to fill the niche.
If you are a dog person, and this idea repulses you, feel free to move on to the next section. The rest of you are probably aware that this isn’t exactly a new idea. Cat cafés have been springing up since the late 90s, and have opened across the globe from Italy to Seattle.
Since most locations serve coffee alongside feline companionship, the Pacific Northwest is a logical place to open up a location. The need for a furry friend can sometimes be urgent, however, making the drive to Seattle a major obstacle. A cat café in Bellingham would allow cat lovers all over the region the option to relax in furry company without paying quite so much for gas.
The Chinese food scene in Bellingham is decent for a city our size, with some notable standouts like Dragon River offering really authentic menu items. Unfortunately, Dim Sum, which is fast becoming a favorite in big cities around the country, is missing from the equation.
There’s a certain irony in that fact, given that Richmond, BC (just across the border) houses the largest Chinese immigrant population in North America, and is also home to some of the greatest Dim Sum this side of the Pacific. Seattle also has its fair share of great Dim Sum restaurants, especially in the International District. Just as with cat cafés, however, requiring a trip to Seattle or across the border makes getting Dim Sum inconvenient for the hungry Bellingham resident. A local offering would be sure to pull in plenty of business from those familiar with the cuisine, especially if it offered some cheap to-go Baozi for students.
What’s a party bike, you ask? An innovation pioneered in the states by cities like Portland and Denver (naturally), a party bike is essentially a mobile bar, simultaneously serving beer and local scenery from the back of a specially modified vehicle. Given Bellingham’s typical weather patterns, this business might be best suited for the summer months, when nature is at its friendliest. Bellingham certainly has the requisite profile: a beer-loving community, beautiful scenery, and an enthusiasm for the outdoors.
A prospective party bike operator would also need to discuss the legalities of the business with local officials (drinking is NOT permitted while driving the party bike). Clearing these hurdles, however, would provide an adventurous soul with the opportunity to make entertain locals and tourists, get exercise, and earn money all at the same time. Local breweries could even feature special brews on the bike. Someone please make this happen!
Mountain Bike Tours/Lessons
Local mountain bikers, please forgive us for suggesting this one. Galbraith Mountain is one of Washington’s best known and loved locations for mountain biking, with a network of trails, features, and even artwork that draws visitors from all over the state. The mountain is well maintained and hosts enough variety of terrain that even beginners could enjoy the experience while they get the hang of the sport. An enterprising pro could turn their hobby into a business by offering lessons, and even guided tours of the trails. As students improved they could be taken to more difficult terrain, and eventually go solo. Just make sure you get them to sign a waiver before the lessons start!
Dry bars are a new trend that has been gaining traction in Britain in recent years. Several articles, including this one from the Guardian, have discussed the new businesses, which offer the essential “bar experience” sans alcohol. The inspiration for dry bars came as a response to a collective liver disease epidemic in the UK, a problem which might not seem as pressing in Bellingham.
Dry bars taken on their own merits, however, could appeal to the local food scene. A bar offers a great opportunity for socializing, hosting concerts, and just getting out of the house. In a traditional bar, the mere presence of alcohol invites imbibing, and excludes minors and abstainers from the crowd. A dry bar could provide the same kind of entertainment and social scene without the need to find a designated driver or leave your younger friends and family behind. It’s well known that alcohol makes the majority of the revenue for most food service businesses, but underselling traditional prices slightly might allow a dry bar to capitalize on a common reason customers abstain in the first place: price. Although Bellingham may not be in desperate need of an alcohol-free alternative, our community is open-minded enough that if a dry bar could catch on anywhere in the States, it would be here.
These are just a few potential ideas for new businesses that could find a great home here in Bellingham. Our city has a great environment for innovation, and several of these businesses have been called for by the community before (I’m looking at you, Bellingham subreddit). If you feel that Bellingham desperately needs a business that we didn’t list here, please let us know in the comments!