Tri-City businesses find success with new locations in Spokane
While many business owners felt fortunate to have emerged from the pandemic still operating, a handful of Tri-City entrepreneurs decided to take the plunge and expand – often to Spokane.
After noticing other businesses entering the market two hours north, Rich Breshears of Breshears Professional Photography jokingly questioned, “Is that the new black – to do business in Spokane?”
Breshears is one of those who put out a shingle in the larger market after getting his start in the Tri-Cities.
In hindsight, he wished he had done it sooner.
“During Covid, I had the realization for my business, and the way counties responded, that I could have been doing business in other counties while some were not allowed,” he said.
He now has a second studio in Mead, a suburb north of Spokane, which opened last fall.
“We’re subleasing from a chiropractor – and have already gotten established in just six months, so we signed a new lease in the Garland District to open on North Monroe by May 1,” he said.
Breshears said the expansion hasn’t changed his operation in the Tri-Cities where production is still done.
“We just grew to the point that we could start scaling it,” he said.
Right now, the Spokane studio is open a couple weekends a month, but it will be operating full time by the summer after adding more sales and photography staff. Breshears just needs a handful of people to run each location.
The payroll is much larger for Boiada Brazilian Grill, which will need about three dozen people to run its second location near the Spokane Convention Center in the next couple months.
“The owners are remodeling a building that was previously a Mexican restaurant and will be the only churrascaria in town,” said Nate Taylor, general manager of the original Kennewick Boiada, near the Columbia Center mall. “We imagine the traffic is going to be a lot greater due to the location.”
Taylor said the owners spent most of 2021 scouting a second location and considered Coeur d’Alene or Yakima before the space in downtown Spokane became available. Deemed cost-effective, the new Boiada will mimic the Tri-Cities in size and menu.
Boiada opened in fall 2019, shortly before the pandemic, which could spell doom for any startup. Taylor said the restaurant was uniquely positioned to make immediate changes when in-person dining was initially shut down.
“We had a small fire just prior to Covid that forced us to close for two weeks. We had already established a to-go menu and purchased patio furniture, and people kept coming and supporting us. They like the fast and fun experience, which turned us into a premier location to dine that brings people back,” he said.
Kagen Coffee & Crepes recently opened a second location in Spokane after seeing steady success in Richland’s Uptown Shopping Center.
A Tri-City marketing agency had been eyeing expansion and signed a lease for a site in Spokane in the fall 2020.
“The second Covid wave was just hitting when we signed in October and then left the office empty for three months,” said Torey Azure, CEO of BrandCraft.
Opening a second office was part of BrandCraft’s five-year plan for growth.
“Spokane was first on the list because of logistics,” Azure said. “It’s a two-hour drive. You don’t have to fly, we can have people commute back and forth, and especially for our management, it was important to be able to test the waters as far as expansion and still be able to drive back and forth.”
BrandCraft opened a third location in Boise in fall 2021 and has its sights set on Scottsdale next. Azure said the company had seen double-digit growth year after year since opening in 2012 and knew that this pace would eventually slow.
“We had already grown into one of the biggest agencies in town and we wanted to find another spot with high-growth potential,” Azure said.
Like Breshears, BrandCraft just needed a few people to open the doors and start operating. It now has 24 employees split across its three locations, with the largest number in the Tri-Cities.
“Our four Spokane employees don’t just work on Spokane,” Azure said. “We might close a project in Spokane, but our Kennewick office or Boise office might work on it. It’s important for sales, networking, and community to know we’re local, but honestly, the work isn’t always done exclusively in those local offices.”
BrandCraft is a startup in the Spokane market, whereas the company acquired an established marketing agency in Boise. Azure expects any future growth would follow the Boise model after working to gain a foothold in Spokane.
“There’s still that network of people that know each other, and it’s hard to break into. We’re getting through it. It’s been a success so far. We signed a new lease, and we’re excited and bullish about what we’re going to do there,” he said.
Azure said that since new residents continue moving into Spokane and Boise, it brings the opportunity to work with new businesses, across a range of industries.