An influx of new businesses to downtown Oak Harbor may be a sign of economic vigor in an area that has struggled in recent years.
Some are new business owners and others experienced entrepreneurs.
Margaret Livermore, the executive director of the Oak Harbor Main Street Association, said the new additions to the area around Southeast Pioneer Way are exciting.
“There’s a lot of potential down here,” Livermore said. “It’s nice to see new things coming in because then we can drive more traffic through downtown.”
The owners of the Spyhop Public House in Langley, Daniel and Susan Morgan, bought the former Harbor Light Tavern building and want it to be a “neighborhood bar.”
The space will be gutted and the couple hopes to add more windows, although the layout will look similar. In keeping with the whale theme from their Langley operation, the new bar will be called Bigg’s after the transient Bigg’s orcas.
The couple said they hope to open the bar in late summer or early fall.
Magi Palmer opened comfrey massage and bodywork and uses both her hands and feet during a session.
Palmer said she opens her massage business wherever the Navy takes her family. Now, she considers Oak Harbor home.
“Pioneer is so cute, and I feel like it’s looking better and better,” she said of her new location.
There are two new businesses in The Loft on Fidalgo & Dock building.
Carolyn Merritt, the owner of Ship Shape Hair Design, is also a military spouse.
Merritt said she wanted to provide an affordable place for military haircuts and offers discounts to service members. She has been doing hair for almost 13 years and said she wants her salon to feel gender-neutral and comfortable for everyone.
Juliana Uluave-Gould’s businesses are also in the same building as the new salon. The successful PNW Vibes Market is here to stay and soon Uluave-Gould will have another shop showcasing her creations, boutique clothing and plenty of mermaid merchandise. She hopes to open in June.
Down the block, Dave Smith has 70 types of tea to choose from at The Hidden Gem. The entrepreneur offers business coaching through another one of his ventures and said he hoped the tea store would be a way for him to meet the community.
Nearby in the Harborside Village mall, Brandy and Eli Wolff have opened their first business earlier this month selling unique art. Eli Wolff works in special effects for a video game company, a very technical pursuit, and said art has let him unleash his creative talents. Brandy Wolff’s art is inspired by nature. The two also collaborate from time to time.
Across the street, Island Furniture offers custom tables, sofas and more. Gerardo Cortes makes the pieces in a shop in California and opened the store with his nephew in Oak Harbor.
Inspired Wellness, PLLC, is a specialty holistic health practice and will open in June, according to Dr. Corina Hopen. The Navy veteran said she noticed conventional medicine was not always successful in helping people with chronic conditions and wanted to offer her clients more. Although it is not open quite yet, her business is accepting applications.
The new owners of the Oak Harbor Tavern building, which Livermore said will be renamed, did not respond by press time. Livermore said the business may become a steak and seafood restaurant.
She also said a professional services business is coming to the downtown area.
The association has been working on ways to encourage people to go downtown and will host Sasquatch Walk on June 26. People will be able to try small bites from several participating restaurants and cafes. Ticket sales will help fund two new murals going on the walls at the gravel lot at Dock Street of Mount Baker, trees and flowers.