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Shop Local: The New Players in the Game

New(ish) local businesses divulge their keys to success



Call them the upstarts, the noobs, the gamers who only recently picked up the paddle. However, you title them., these local businesses are the ones who have been in business five(ish) years or less, and are already making waves in the local scene.

As we get set for Shop Small Saturday, here are the stories from some of the new players in the game.


As interviewed by Lisa Sipe

Modern Boardshop is a board game shop with a wide selection of European style board games, including "Settlers of Catan," "Ticket to Ride" and "Pandemic."

On getting started as a business in Bend

Before owners Brian and Susan Evans opened in 2015, they posted their store progress on social media and quickly gained a following. When they finally opened in the Box Factory, their first Thursday game night had a full house. Since then the game nights, open to anyone, have remained popular. Players can bring their own game, buy one, or play one from the store library. The store sells light snacks, craft beer, cider and sodas, so it's easy to hang out for a while.

On getting ahead

When I visited, the store had a new employee starting their first day. The Evans' said the game industry is growing at 40 percent per year—so rapidly that 1,200 new titles were released in 2017. This kind of growth has been good for their business but it's also been a challenge. They are figuring out how to grow. (Sound familiar, Bend?)

On shopping local:

The Evans' said, "shopping local is about being part of the community and giving back. It's doing business with someone you'll run into around town," adding that they couldn't be in business if locals didn't support them and that what they do is about community. When you sit down to play a game you connect with the person or people in front of you.

Location Details Modern Boardshop
Modern Boardshop
550 SW Industrial Way Suite 194
Box Factory
Bend, OR
Shops & Services

The Workhouse

As interviewed by Teafly Peterson

On starting a business in Central Oregon

"We were very skeptical of starting a business, especially an arts related one. At that time, we didn't realize the depth of the art community or that it would grow the way it has. We had very low overhead at the time, so the real challenge was that the space needed a lot of elbow grease. But it was a time where we could make it up as we went along. It was hard, but it made us more flexible and fluid.

"We thought it was important to open an arts-related business because there was a hole that needed to be filed. There was a lack of a marketplace for working artists to work and sell their wares. The Workhouse has really become an incubator for small arts businesses. It still remains a hybrid between a retail shop and artists' studio. The main drive was to give artists a soft entry into the world of selling their art."

On getting ahead as a new business

"It's taken more time for people who live here to know about us than the tourists.

"We have found that being consistent and reliable to the community through what we offer has helped with our success and growth. People can trust that they can come here and discover something new, meet artists, be inspired, and as a result our revenue has quadrupled over the last four years.

"We are never done. There has always been the desire to grow and change and innovate in a way that would help move us forward, both for ourselves and for people who come in—whether that is display, or trying out new classes, finding new artists to showcase or collaborating with other programs and institutions to bring in even more arts."

On shopping local

"Beyond just keeping money in the community, it also lessens your carbon footprint. Things aren't being shipped. It allows you have the opportunity to have a connection to the object you are buying, and also the person who is making it. You build a relationship that way. Your dollar is directly helping an artist go to the doctor and pay their rent and continue to be an artist or a maker or chocolatier. These people are valuable to our community and buying directly from them helps them, and it helps the rest of us, too."

Fernweh Woodworking

As interviewed by Nicole Vulcan

Justin Nelson and his wife both military vets, moved to Central Oregon in 2014. After a stint with the Prineville Hotshots, Nelson stared his own woodworking business. Nelson recently won two Design Excellence Awards from the International Interior Design Association.

On getting started as a business in Central Oregon

"I started in the business in January (2015) and to be honest I wasn't much of a woodworker, but I've just found a passion for it and I've just learned so much.

"Looking back I feel like it takes kind of an optimistic person, like, an inherently optimistic person to start a small business.

"It's been a long slog, but Central Oregon has been an awesome place to do it, besides the cost of living."

On getting ahead as a new business

"I think because I had never been in small business before, I had never realized how many opportunities are out there—you just really have to find them. Starting out I was really expecting that people would find me, and I've realized that it's not that way at all, you really have to be... assertive to find opportunities.

"Also, put yourself out there for things that you don't necessarily know if they're going to pay off, because a lot of times they pay off in ways that you wouldn't expect.

"Early on I had a business advisor... she just told me that I wouldn't be successful if I didn't follow what I was passionate about, and I've always been passionate about real hardwoods. I rarely stain my products, I like to focus on natural hardwood and that's something that's really different than the mainstream approach. Jeff Cole does the leatherwork for me. His business is called Link Leather Goods."

On the importance of shopping local

"In my chair, every single joint has what's called a domino, but is really just a little piece of beechwood—an ovular piece of wood as a tenon to hold the two pieces together. I think stuff like that is really interesting because people don't understand that things like this really can't be made on machines, and so you're purchasing something that truly is one of a kind, made by a human being, locally."


As interviewed by Keely Damara

Riane Welch and Eric Run relocated from the Bay Area last winter, after visiting Bend over the past decade or so. They opened their online restaurant in April, delivering fresh, locally sourced fare to people in the Bend area. Welch weighed in about starting her business.

On getting started as a business in Central Oregon

"We had a handful of challenges. One being, not totally understanding what Bend is really like—it's a lot different from when you visit versus live here. The other challenge was that it is a totally new concept. It's an online restaurant—we don't have a store front, so to find a way to get the word out there without having a physical location for people to visit was another huge challenge for us."

On getting ahead as a new business

"It's been incredible. The support we've gotten from other small businesses and local business owners, people saying, 'whatever we can do to kind of spread the word.' We've got a lot of positive feedback about our concept and our business and people just willing to put a couple postcards near their cash register or talk about us is really amazing. I think that's something that is unique to small towns, but especially to Bend. We would have never experienced something like that in San Francisco, guaranteed."

On shopping local

"Part of what makes Bend so awesome is the people and what they do here and the businesses... and it's really a part of the identity and the culture here. I know that Bend has changed a lot over the past 10 to 15 years, and I think to really sort of make sure that we cherish what makes it such a special place is really, I would say, small business."

Boxwood Kitchen


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