This is the second in a regular feature introducing you to the many small business owners along Jackson, why they love being part of the neighborhood, and what they hope to see in the future in our district. We know doing business on Jackson takes dedication, courage, and some luck.
Susan Smith, Owner
Two Big Blondes
1712 S. Jackson Street
Two Big Blondes is a plus-size consignment store for the ladies. They have a steady stream of shoppers, helpful staff, and though unassuming from the street, it’s vast! We were curious about their long-term success on Jackson and came to realize that part of that success is that they’re a destination not only for women in the city, but even ladies who live out of town. They are also affiliated with the Seattle Women’s Assistance Fund, meaning you can drop of charitable donations there!
When we’ve thought about the blend of retail that should be on Jackson, having this type of business that can draw a wide range of people from outside our own neighborhood is critical to the success of the entire street and more neighborhood-centric services.
We had a chance earlier to chat with Susan about running her business on Jackson and the challenges she has.
How long have you been in business?
We’ve been on Jackson for over ten years, but in business for sixteen years. In addition to the store, we’re also have an online store, so we sell to people around the country.
What’s the best thing doing business on Jackson Street?
I like being on Jackson because of the diversity of shoppers and neighbors. I also like the ease of parking and it’s easy for people to find us. The size of our store is a huge benefit and really important because it lets us carry a larger selection.
What do you need to change on Jackson to be a more successful business?
There are so many things that need fixed! I have people defecating on my sidewalks at night, people dumping junk furniture and garbage on my property, and neighbors not keeping their property and sidewalks clean, or worse, allowing prostitutes and drug dealing to happen on their property.
Sounds like folks don’t have pride in the neighborhood or respect?
Exactly! There’s a perception by some of my customers that the neighborhood is not safe and not having folks lend a hand on the basic appearance of their property doesn’t help. Maybe there could be an incentive offered by the city, for example, something offered to keep my whole neighborhood clean, like free yardwaste collection or an extra trash can on the corner near me for all the garbage I collect off the streets/sidewalks of my neighbors. I’d like enforcement of the awful, rat infested lot east of me.
So what you’re talking about is not only more respect in the neighborhood but some city involvement too?
It’s hard to get folks to respect the neighborhood when the feeling is the city doesn’t care. Don’t you agree?
Yeah, it’s a problem.
For example, it seems that we have a hard time getting basic stuff fixed. You were writing about the street lights being broken. How long were those missing? I’d like some banners and flowerpots on the street lamps demonstrating that the City takes pride in our neighborhood. Right now, there’s just nothing like that.
But it’s not all about what the city can do for us. I’d also like to see owners of property commit to soliciting tenants that bring value and people to the neighborhood and and I’d also like to see the business owners that are there given free instruction on how to be more successful.
We’ve been able to be successful here, but if often feels “in despite of everything”; some of the other businesses don’t have the same singular draw that we have.
We’re working on a super fun event, with Susan and Two Big Blondes on August 24th! You’ll want to be sure to check back or follow along on Facebook, Twiiter or Google+ to get the details as we have them! Thanks for taking your time to chat with us, Susan! Next week, we talk to Karen over at Cellular North West and learn what it’s like being on the lower level of the Promenade 23.