Game plans: Three new businesses share their strategy for success

May 2011 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, Business, Other

By Dixon Bledsoe
Take a stroll in downtown Silverton and you’ll discover once empty storefronts have transformed into businesses.  Our Town features three newcomers this issue, and three in the next.

The Mercantile
To make it as a business in a small town, Liz Steffen has a definite plan – keep her product unique, know her seasons, create different revenue streams, give people a reason to shop local and smile.

The Mercantile, which opened in March, is ready to make it.

The Mercantile
207 High St., Silverton
Liz Steffen, owner

Smiling with grace and ease, Steffen walks through her new shop, with its 1,001 gift ideas. The shop is a veritable smorgasbord of options offered through nearly 15 vendors who consign to sell their wares.
Steffen is targeting businesses and e-Bay wannabes, and will offer re-loadable gift cards.

“I know that to make it here, keeping the locals happy and shopping here year-round is crucial, bringing in the tourists to see and buy things that are fun and unique is essential, and mixing it up to keep things fresh and the vendors happy is the key,” Steffen said.

Clever and creative locals have sections of the store consigned to sell their wares. Leslie Mills created “Cowgirl at Heart” in her corner and hopes to catch the eye of women who yearn for boots, horses and Western romanticism.

“Rose’s Rust and Romance” and the “Bee’s Knees” are sure to attract attention.  “Noah’s Lark” and “The Silver Mist Candle Company” are two other vendors hoping for success in the consignment store.

Steffen also offers private mail boxes, shipping services sanctioned through the U.S. Postal Service, a notary public, a national and international fax service, and a bonded REDOL for e-Bay consigners (Retail Drop-off-Location).

Whether you are looking for private label jams or antiques, Steffen and her mother Yvonne Daggett hope customers will stop by and then keep visiting again and again.

Edward Adams B&B

For Nancy Korda and Jim Bressi, the move from California to Silverton was geared toward a more relaxed way of life. They fell in love with the town on their first visit in the summer of 2010, and it took them less than a day to decide the Edward Adams House was the perfect place for fulfilling a dream – owning a small bed and breakfast in a historical home. The 1890 Victorian restored to near-perfection fit the bill to a tee.

Edward Adams B & B
729 S. Water St.
Nancy Korda and
Jim Bressi, owners

But rather than do what some newcomers do, Bressi and Korda got absorbed in the charm and dynamics that is Silverton. They re-opened the Edward Adams House B&B in December, after the former owners, Linda and Mike Whitmore, had closed the business two years ago in advance of a move to Florida. They attended every function they could, from the Merchants Meetings and Chamber After Hours to the First Citizen’s Banquet. They put their own personal taste into the beautiful home by accentuating the absolutely stunning woodwork, historic charm, and simplicity of the era in which it was built.

They got their website,, up and running with pictures of the beautiful rooms and grounds.

The savvy pair attracted The Portland Business Alliance and recently a ribbon-cutting was held with dignitaries from Portland and the Silverton City Council in attendance, along with many members of the Silverton Chamber of Commerce and ambassadors. Gerry Frank, an Oregon icon, is featuring the Edward Adams House B&B in one of his Oregonian columns touting the best of Oregon attractions, eateries and lodging.

“It has been a whirlwind and we are loving it,” Bressi said. “Nancy is totally in her element and visitors will see her handiwork immediately in the beautiful gardens as spring blooms in full force.”

“We love this town. Silver Falls State Park is so close, it is charming here, and we love this beautiful home,” Korda added.

The Edward Adams House Bed and Breakfast received the Silver Medal Bed and Breakfast Winner in The Statesman Journal’s “Best of the Mid-Willamette Valley” contest. That floored Bressi and Korda, since they are relative newcomers. “The ambiance is comforting, the rooms are private, and the entire home is richly appointed,” Bressi adds. Rooms are $145 per night, and the price includes breakfast, port in the evening, and snacks during the day.

Whether you are looking for a place to stay or just want to see the house, Bressi and Korda invite you to stop by and say hello. They enjoy sharing their home and the gardens.

Whimsy Etc. Boutique
The moment shoppers walk into Whimsy they will notice two things – there is a lot of color and bling and creativity is everywhere.

Need a pair of Capri pants? No problem – just pick out the pattern and color in the cell phone sized Magic Capri package, take it home, put it in the washer, and presto – cute pants for spring and summer wear!

Tired of tired old coasters and knocking over your wine glass? Whimsy has the solution – clever little coasters that look like, among other things, tennis shoes that not only serve as coasters, but keep your wine glass in place to avoid spills.

Whimsy Etc. Boutique
207 E. Main St.
Bonnie Lester, owner

Owner Bonnie Lester might direct your attention to purses in a cacophony of colors, made totally from zippers.

“We don’t want to be like everyone else. We want people to find things here that they have never seen elsewhere,” Lester said. “Our goal is to be totally different, bring in a lot of out-of-towners and offer them things to remember Silverton by, and keep our local friends coming in year round for just the right gift.”

Wearing a decorative two-acre hat, Lester noted there are lots of  hats and scarves at her boutique as well as glass butterflies, grape lights and cards.

Not one to be intimated by the economy’s unpredictable moods, Lester said she’s hoping to attract spring and summer tourists as well as local folks.

“I am too ornery to work for someone else and don’t want the 9 to 5 lifestyle,” Lester said with a twinkle in her eyes. But the savvy business owner knows keeping things lively, keeping the selection unique might not be enough. That is why she is also moving her magazine subscription business, which caters to business reception areas, to the Silverton store. Up to 10 employees will be working there,  in front and in the call center in the back.

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