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Fun and flirty on Chelan Avenue

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Darleen Gerry, owner of Darleen’s Boutique in Wenatchee.


Fun and flirty on Chelan Avenue

At age 75, Darleen Gerry stocks some pretty sexy clothes in her just-opened store in Wenatchee.

Sexy?” she laughed. “Well, I like to think of them more as fun and flirty.”

Gerry’s new store, Darleen’s Boutique, is crowded with bright, colorful and festive fashions — dresses, tops and leggings — designed to show off a few curves and, in some, flash a little bit of leg. “Legs can be many women’s best feature,” she said, taking a little black number off the rack and holding it for a visitor to peruse.

Of course, she stocks more conservative styles, too, and also plus-sized clothing that doesn’t scrimp on flash and style. The store also features racks of accessories — hats, scarves, bags, jewelry — and a line of gift items, such as artful windchimes and faerie figurines.

Gerry’s inventory also features a large display of jewelry — earrings, necklaces, bracelets — hand-made by her daughter Dianna.

Best of all? All this sassy pizzazz comes at a reasonable price — hardly an item in Darleen’s Boutique costs more than $35.

Gerry is no stranger to business. She owned a coffee shop and deli in the Seattle area for 15 years before moving this year to the Wenatchee Valley. Since about 2000, she’s been visiting friends in the area and caring for their home during winter months. During her stays, she fell in love with the eastside of the mountains.

It’s her nature to keep busy and, she said, “I’ve always loved clothes.” So her clothing boutique was an idea who’s time had come. “I immediately got online and started searching for just the right items and styles that I could sell at just the right price.”

Gerry opened her 400-square-foot boutique on June 14 on the busy corner of North Chelan Avenue and Second Street. Everyday, she hangs a few brightly-colored dresses or tops on the front of the building for some sidewalk merchandising.

They’re pretty and bright and interesting,” said Gerry, “If it were me passing by, I’d want to stop and see what’s inside.”

Details: Darleen’s Boutique, 136 N. Chelan Ave., Wenatchee. (Former location of Nancekivell’s Cleaners.) Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. (206) 949-8044.

East Wenatchee

Sportsman’s Warehouse aims for eastside

A national sporting goods chain has announced plans to open a 49,000-square-foot store by early next year in the soon-to-be vacated Sears space at Wenatchee Valley Mall.

Sportsman’s Warehouse, based in Utah, said July 9 it would expand into East Wenatchee with its 49th store in 15 states. It will be the sixth store for the company in Washington state.

Wenatchee Valley Mall officials confirmed that after months of talks Sportsman’s Warehouse signed a lease for the Sears space. Sears is set to close mid-August after an 80-year presence in the Wenatchee Valley.

Mall execs said a new Sears store in a smaller format — a 10,813-square-foot Sears Hometown Store — would open at the mall and sell Sears products, including Craftsman and Kenmore brands. Owner of the new Hometown Store is Clifton Phillips, Moses Lake, who owns four other Hometown Stores, including those in Moses Lake and Ephrata.

The store will occupy the combined spaces of the PacSun and Nu Art inside the mall and would be open by early- to mid-October, said General Manager Dawn Collings. PacSun has already closed in the mall and Nu Art is set to close at the end of July.

We’re thrilled to welcome these new stores and keep the Sears name in our mall,” said Collings. “From our standpoint, it’s a win-win situation.”

The lease with Sportsman’s Warehouse means that one of the mall’s largest spaces will be vacant only for the months it takes to remodel for the new tenant, said Collings. The store is expected to open in spring 2014 and could hire from 45 to 70 workers, according to company spokeswoman Karen Seaman.

Why East Wenatchee?” she said. “It’s an area filled with great recreational opportunities and with folks who use the things we specialize in.”

Sportsman’s Warehouse sells national brands of sporting goods that include gear for hunting, fishing, archery, camping, boating, along with knives and tools, boots and outdoor clothing. The stores also offer instruction and how-to workshops related to outdoor activities. The company also operates an online store.

Sportsman’s Warehouse emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009 after closing 23 stores and selling 15 to a Canadian company. Several Washington stores were closed, including those in Spokane, Lacey and Vancouver. The resulting 23-outlet chain has since grown to 49 stores.

We’re excited to open a store in Wenatchee,” said Sportsman’s Warehouse CEO John Schaefer. “The area has a strong outdoor heritage, and I’m sure that we will become an active, contributing partner of this great community.”

The closest Sportsman’s Warehouse to East Wenatchee is in Kennewick, with other stores in Federal Way, Puyallup, Silverdale and Vancouver.

Sears announced in May that it would close its East Wenatchee store, which opened in downtown Wenatchee in 1934 and moved to East Wenatchee in 1973. The store was one of the original anchors of the Wenatchee Valley Mall.


Local Bank of America branches to be sold

Say bye-bye here to Bank of America.

Seven branches of one of North Central Washington’s top banks will have a new owner by year’s end when Seattle-based Washington Federal buys 19 BofA branches in Eastern Washington and 32 more in Oregon, Idaho and New Mexico.

Regional branches in the deal include the two in Wenatchee and those in Leavenworth, Chelan, Omak, Quincy and Moses Lake. In an announcement July 18, Washington Federal executives said all BofA employees would be offered employment with the new owner and both Wenatchee branches would remain open.

We’ve been wanting to have a presence in Eastern Washington for years,” Washington Federal CEO Roy Whitehead said this morning. “Bank of America’s doing some restructuring, which gives us the chance to serve customers in North Central Washington in one fell swoop. We think folks will find it easier to relate to a bank based in the Pacific Northwest.”

If approved by federal regulators, Seattle-based Washington Federal, with $13 billion in assets and 185 branches in eight western states, will pay around $45 million in the deal to acquire $1.8 billion in total deposits, $11 million in loans and each bank branch’s real estate.

The deal is expected to close sometime in December, said Whitehead, when BofA customers would automatically become Washington Federal clients. New signs would begin going up that day, too. “Every effort will be made to minimize disruptions to customer banking routines,” said Whitehead. “It should be a smooth transition. Plus, existing clients will benefit from the added convenience of over 50 new banking locations.”

Washington Federal began operations in 1917 as a savings and loan operation in Ballard and went public in 1982. The company recently reported a 5.8 percent earnings increase for the first nine months of its fiscal year. On Wednesday, Washington Federal completed its conversion with the Federal Reserve to become a national bank and holding company, a charter process initiated before the just-announced BofA purchases.

Last month, Bank of America, the second largest in the U.S., reported a 63 percent gain in net income in its second quarter as the company continues to cut costs and stabilize revenues in its recovery from millions in bad loans in the housing industry collapse of 2008.


Sports spending jumps in year’s first half

Sports tourism spending here totalled just over $5.4 million in the first half of 2013, a jump of more than $400,000 over the same six-month period last year, the Wenatchee Valley Sports Council announced last month.

The increase in spending came from a first-quarter surge in events, including the 2013 Special Olympics Winter Games, and a second-quarter schedule that included a few more events than last year, said Matt Kearny, Sports Council director.

And the trend should continue through the rest of the year, said Kearny.

Events included East Wenatchee’s new Nothin’ but Net 3-on-3 Basketball Tourney last month, and the upcoming United Way Color Rush 5K on Aug. 18 and the Apple Cup Soccer Tournament in September, which was cancelled last year due to poor air quality from wildfire smoke.

Moses Lake

New food supplement facility announced

A new $30 million facility to manufacture an algae-based product will begin construction here soon, a Japanese pharmaceutical company announced July 15.

Fuji Chemical Industry, a global company based near Toyama City in Japan, said the new biotech manufacturing plant will hire up to 45 employees and begin operations in late 2014.

Under its subsidiary AstaReal Technologies, the company will manufacture natural astaxanthin, a microalgae-based food supplement with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s the nutrient that provides the red color in salmon meat and some shellfish and is sometimes used as a food dye.

According to Fuji CEO Mitsunori Nishida, the company decided to build in Moses Lake because of its cheap hydro power, abundant water, a skilled labor force and local culture welcoming to Japanese companies. For decades, Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake was home to training operations for Japanese Airlines, the international passenger and cargo carrier.

City, state and county officials have worked with Fuji over the last year to bring the plant to Moses Lake, a Fuji press release said. Fuji Chemical and its subsidiaries sell products in more than 20 countries. AstaReal is the global brand name of Fuji’s astaxanthin business.

East Wenatchee

L&I workshop set for logging employers

The state Department of Labor & Industries will hold a training workshop here for logging employers to help reduce injuries and their worker compensation rates.

The afternoon workshop will be held at 1 p.m. Aug. 22 at 519 Grant Road. Employers can sign up at Lni.wa.gov/safety/traintools/workshops or by calling (360) 902-4255.

Workshop topics will include discussions on safety, record-keeping, contractor liability, risk management, L&I programs and other subjects.

Attendance at the workshop will also help employers qualify for a voluntary compliance program that limits L&I’s audits of logging companies, according to Regional Program Manager Chris Bowe.


Corporations can earn community award

Companies that give back to the community can now be nominated for one of the state’s highest civic award.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman announced last month that her office is now accepting nominations for the 2013 Corporations for Communities Award. The nomination deadline is Aug. 31 and winners will be announced in October.

Begun in 2009, the CofC program has recognized state businesses that have helped improve local or regional social and environmental conditions. One large and one small corporation from around the state will be chosen this summer from the public’s nominations.

Anyone can nominate businesses for the award, said Wyman. Nominees need to be registered with the state and in compliance with state and federal laws.

For more info, contact program coordinator Patrick Reed at (360)-725-0358 or patrick.reed@sos.wa.gov.


Crunch Pak adds recipes in website overhaul

Craving a lunch of pork loin sliders with apple chutney? Or a smoked turkey and apple wrap?

Crunch Pak, the nation’s leading sliced-apple snack company, has added recipes to its online offerings as part of a redesigned website launched lastl month.

We wanted to create a site that was more user friendly with fresh graphics that showcased our entire product line,” said Tony Freytag, the company’s vice-president of marketing. Part of that effort, he added, are seasonal recipes from Crunch Pak chef Amanda Magadan.

Our hope is that shoppers will go to the site and bookmark it as a reference and resource,” Freytag said.

See the website at crunchpak.com.


Wheatland Bank opens new financial planning division

Wheatland Bank has kicked off a new brokerage and financial planning division to help customers invest and spend their money more wisely.

The new Wheatland Wealth Management division will have a team of financial advisors working with local bankers to offer in-house investment advice, brokerage services, and estate and retirement planning, Wheatland’s president and CEO Susan Horton said last month in a press release.

Wheatland will partner with Investment Centers of America, a North Dakota-based brokerage and planning network, to provide the new services, Horton added.

Wheatland has 13 branches in central Washington, including those in Wenatchee, Chelan, Quincy and Moses Lake.