Businesses cropping up, changing hands

Published on Wed, Feb 19, 2014 by Quinn Welsch

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In perhaps a sign that the local economy has turned around, new businesses have been popping up around Birch Bay and Blaine.

Pax Gallery

Blaine resident Doug Dahl did not live in the Democratic Republic of Congo for very long. His parents, a relief worker and a teacher, brought him to the U.S. shortly after he was born. When he went back to the country to revisit his roots in 2005, he was impressed by the country’s artists. Now, Dahl has brought their art to the Pax Gallery, a new art studio that opened on February 4, located at 711 Third Street in Blaine.

The art featured at Pax Gallery is “contemporary abstract” and reflects the Congolese culture’s belief in community, family, harmony and unity, Dahl said. The gallery’s purpose is to feature artists from little-known cultures and to bring art from outside our own area, he said.

The gallery sells prints of original art with a percentage of the sales going back to each artist in the Congo. An equal percentage goes back to the artists’ hometown in the form of a royalty. The idea is to create something the U.S. and Congolese communities can both benefit from, Dahl said. 

“The motivation was to take original art – work you can’t find here – and give back to the community it came from,” Dahl said. “[Congo] is a tough place to live. These artists have an opportunity to change their community with their art.”

“Blaine is my community where I live,” Dahl said. “I wanted to add something cool to downtown.”

Dahl said he anticipates many sales to be made online. The gallery will sell prints for 10 percent off throughout the rest of February. The gallery is open by appointment only, but there will be an inaugural exhibition on Saturday, February 22, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

For more information, visit

Anytime Fitness

Anytime Fitness, a 24-hour gym, is set to open on Monday, February 24, at 8115 Birch Bay Square Street in Birch Bay.

The location is one that has been on owner Anthony Hamilton’s mind for the past five years. Hamilton owns the Anytime Fitness locations in Bellingham and Mount Vernon. Bob Vaden, contractor for the Anytime Fitness locations, thought the gym would do well in Birch Bay, Hamilton said. “He put the bug in my ear,” Hamilton said.

“We thought this area really needed this,” he said. “There’s not much in the way of fitness [facilities] here. It fills that void.”

On opening, the gym will offer an array of cardio and weight machines from Life Fitness. The gym may look empty now as its machines, gear and furnishings are still on a freight truck from Illinois, Hamilton said. “It’s all brand new top of the line stuff that we get,” he said. 

The gym will also offer 65 different classes, including boot camps, Zumba, Pilates and yoga. For those who are on a time crunch, the gym will offer classes as brief as 20 minutes instead of an hour, Hamilton said. “Anyone can do 20 minutes,” he said.

The new gym will open Monday, February 24 and the location will hold a grand opening in late March, Hamilton said. The first 200 members can receive a $19 key. Key holders are able to access the gym 24/7. The gym is staffed Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visit for more information.

Swank Nail Salon

Swank Family Hair Design opened up a nail salon in its building at 399 H Street during the fall. The nail salon has a staff of three and will have its own entrance and phone number soon, owner Tain Schroeder said. The location will offer facial waxing, and manicures and will specialize in pedicures.

The salon will hold a grand opening by March 1 and feature special deals on products and beauty services. The nail salon is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment.

For more information about Swank,  visit

Sweet Tangerine Bistro

Sweet Tangerine Bistro reopened under new ownership on February 6. The Asian fusion restaurant is located at 1733 H Street, Suite 420, in Blaine. There are no changes to the restaurant’s menu or food. Sweet Tangerine Bistro is open 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

For more information, visit

Junk Removal Solutions

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, after all. Tad Shetler has opened a junk removal service in Blaine that serves all of Whatcom and Skagit counties. The residential and commercial business is open seven days a week, and will remove anything from clothes to yard waste and appliances. For more information or a quote for service, call 360/483-7623 or visit