Across the United States, small businesses have always been an integral part of their community’s economic and social well being. Some businesses take it a step further and partner with local charities, host fundraisers, and donate profits and goods. This past year amidst a global pandemic, social unrest, and a reckoning with systematic violence, the contributions by small businesses have been increasingly important, including in Bellingham, Washington. Check out our InTENtional List of Bellingham businesses supporting their communities.
Partnering with charities
A1DesignBuild has serviced the Bellingham area for over 60 years. The custom home company was originally passed down from owner to owner until it eventually evolved into the worker-owned cooperative it is today. Their mission is to design smart homes and build less in order to live more. The workers at A1 believe the best homes hold you up, not back. They offer thoughtful design, vetted experience, beautiful, durable and reusable materials, and a five-year warranty (which is 5x the industry standard).
Fun fact: A1 is committed to efficiency and keeping their footprint as small as possible so they use no extraneous material or space.
A1DesignBuild invests 10% of their profits in their community every year. They support many community organizations including Bellingham Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Kulshan Community Land Trust, and more!
Community Food Co-op #WomanOwned
The Community Food Co-op is Whatcom County’s only community-owned grocery store — run by a group of devoted people with passion and vision to make a difference in the community. The store opened in 1970 with a volunteer staff and only eight items. Today, you’ll find a wide selection of natural foods, an espresso/smoothie bar, a deli, and a bakery. Staff at the co-op are always helpful when you have a question. Their focus on nutrition, sustainability, and local products ensure you the highest quality groceries every time.
Bonus: The Co-op also has a location in the Cordata neighborhood!
Community Food Co-op gives grants and loans to local farmers through their Farm Fund. They support other organizations in Whatcom County through education, event sponsorship, and donations.
Village Books #WomanOwned
Since it first opened in 1980, independent bookstore Village Books has been committed to “building community one book at a time.” In 2017, the store passed from the original owners to Paul Hanson, Kelly Evert, and Sarah Hutton, who worked for Village Books for years. From new, used, and bargain books to ebooks and audiobooks, the physical and virtual shelves of Village Books are stocked to bring out the book lover in everyone!
Bonus: Village Books also has a location in Lynden.
Village Books partners with local nonprofits for their Round It Up! program. Customers simply round up their purchase at the cash register, and their money will be donated to whichever charity Village Books is partnering with (currently Whatcom Peace & Justice Center)! Every year, Village Books also donates 5% of their profits to other local nonprofits.
Hosting fundraisers and donating profits
Color Chiropractic #WomanOwned, #AsianOwned, #FamilyOwned
Dr. Michelle Hsu and Dr. Richard Tran opened Color Chiropractic to offer a holistic approach to chiropractic care that takes into account physical, nutritional, and emotional aspects. The doctors bring their skills together for each client — understanding that different bodies have different needs. In addition to chiropractic adjustments, Color Chiropractic offers pregnancy preparation, detoxification services, nutritional therapy, and laser therapy. You’ll feel more radiant and vibrant when you experience proper chiropractic care, and as Dr. Hsu and Dr. Tran say “life is better in color!”
Color Chiropractic hosts Community Clinics providing chiropractic adjustments by donation to raise money for different charities. They have raised money for Common Thread Farms to bring healthy food to kids, Animals as Natural Therapy, and Dementia Support Northwest.
Brandywine Kitchen #BlackOwned
Brandywine Kitchen’s motto is “From seed to plate,” which represents owners Aziz Tookas and Chris Sunde’s belief that supporting and understanding local food systems leads to a better product. Aziz and Chris started Brandywine as an heirloom tomato farm in 2002 as a way to unite cuisine and local farming. In 2011, they expanded to open Brandywine Kitchen in the heart of Downtown Bellingham, combining their passion for food and sustainable agriculture. Brandywine Kitchen offers house-made baguettes and a range of unique entrees featuring gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options using locally sourced produce and products. Regulars wax lyrical about Brandywine’s gluten-free mac and cheese, apple-jalapeno chicken sandwich, and wide range of local beer and cider options.
Brandywine Kitchen regularly donates a portion of their profits to different charities. Recently, they have donated to the ACLU and the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center. Brandywine Kitchen also partners with local producers to keep money circulating within the Bellingham community.
Wink Wink #WomanOwned
Wink Wink, owned by Jennifer “Jenn” Mason, is an “always inclusive, never creepy” sex shop specializing in non-toxic sex and body products, lingerie, and educational, body positive books. They even have a section specifically for teaching kids about sex, bodies, and gender. Wink Wink is also dedicated to inclusive sex education. Jenn’s goal is to celebrate sexual expression and exploration, banish shame, and to help Wink Wink’s customers to better love themselves and others.
Bonus: Wink Wink also offers educational classes!
Wink Wink recently matched donations in a firewood fundraiser for Camp 210, a homeless encampment in Bellingham, and raised over $2,000.
Calypso #WomanOwned #BlackOwned
Sarah Gopaulchan, who grew up in the Caribbean, opened Calypso Kitchen to pay homage to her grandmother and share a little bit of Caribbean culture with the Bellingham community. Her love and passion for tasty food, and her ability to create her beloved recipes came from years spent watching her grandma cook. Not only does Sarah offer catering and single-serve packaged meals, she also hosts Caribbean cooking classes to share her knowledge. When you order from Calypso, you can expect a dish packed with flavor and made with care.
Bonus: If you can’t get enough of one of Sarah’s dishes, check out Calypso’s website for a recipe!
Sarah cooks over 50 warm meals every Thursday for her homeless neighbors at Camp 210.
Fairhaven Runners & Walkers #WomanOwned, #FamilyOwned
Genevie and Stephen Roguski spare no expense to help their customers at Fairhaven Runners & Walkers find the right gear and guidance for all of their running and walking-related needs. The shop offers the best shoes and running equipment from all the best brands. They ensure top quality customer service by training the staff as running and active lifestyle advisors, not salespeople.
Bonus: Check out “Coaches Corner” on their website for insights and tips from lifelong runners hoping to inspire others!
Fairhaven Runners & Walkers pass on lightly used shoes to athletic teams, shelters, and charities in need. They also contribute to local nonprofits that focus on health, fitness, youth, and environmental causes and they helped fund the Alex Pempe Youth Runners’ Fund.
Supporting animals and the environment
Trove Cannabis #AsianOwned
Western graduates Louis Lai and Yin-Ho Lai opened Trove Cannabis in 2013 to provide three things: a great place to work, a selection of quality products, and legendary customer service. The medical and recreational cannabis shop offers a wide selection of flower, concentrates, edibles, and topicals at affordable prices. Louis and Yin-Ho also take pride in supporting small, local cannabis farms. You can pay with your debit card and there are ATMs on site.
Pro tip: Check out Trove’s website to see when their medical marijuana consultants will be on site.
Trove plants a tree for every ounce of flower bought. When you buy an ounce, you get to vote where to place the tree! They also partner with local charities and make sure to partner with local vendors that prioritize creating jobs.
Sage Against the Machine #WomanOwned, #FamilyOwned
Tara and Nate Johnson shared a lifelong dream of opening a restaurant. That dream came true when they opened their plant-based food truck, Sage Against the Machine, in 2018. The food truck offers vegan sandwiches and wraps, loaded “mac-no-cheeses,” salads and bowls, “not”chos, and a vegan burger that will leave even meat-lovers considering meatless alternatives! Each item on their menu is simple in order to appease all, even non-vegans. When you stop by, you’re sure to find Nate and Tara serving customers and making food with welcoming smiles on their faces.
On the second Thursday of every month, Sage Against the Machine donates a portion of their sales to the Whatcom Humane Society.
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Intentionalist is your local guide to small businesses and the diverse people behind them. We believe that where you spend your money matters, and we’re sure glad you do too! Whether you identify as a localist, activist, or just a good neighbor, we make it easy for you to connect with, learn about, and support small businesses in your community through everyday decisions about where you eat, drink, and shop.