Import retailer considers pop-up shop in Walla Walla

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A Seattle retailer specializing in Chinese and Tibetan import items could be making a temporary landing in Walla Walla.

Word has been circulating on Facebook that a Seattle shop known as "Distant Lands" is scouting the community for a "pop-up" store location. The pop-up model is a trend that has been around several years with the proliferation of seasonal or temporary stores, but has particularly taken off since the recession. Retailers open up stores in various locations and communities with the expectation of operating for weeks or even months at a time before closing. The approach can be used for a variety of reasons, including everything from testing a market before committing long-term to capitalizing on sales through high-demand periods.

A location and more specific details about what the store's potential operation here could look like have not been released.

According to its website, Distant Lands is a retail/wholesale importer of Chinese and Tibetan furniture and decorative objects. Owners hunt down original pieces, as well as "faithful reproductions" with special qualities. "We look for the unusual, whether it is the outline of a delicate Ming chair or the vibrant painted flames of a Tibetan shrine cabinet," the site explained. Distant Lands' retail address is on Seattle's First Avenue.

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Community members have answered the call for help with the Walla Walla Association of Realtors' annual Care amp; Share Food Drive this weekend.

Only about 10 more people are needed to help put on the communitywide food drive that serves as the biggest mass collection for the Blue Mountain Action Council food bank, said coordinator Peter Swant of Coldwell Banker First Realtors.

Late last week Swant said only 48 of the 105 volunteer positions for the food drive had been filled. Since an article in Sunday's paper detailed not only the need for help but the massive demand for food in the community, Swant said he's received about 10 calls per day from people willing to help.

"I'm always amazed by Walla Walla," he said this morning. "When people are needed they come through."

Volunteers will be dropping off orange plastic collection bags at local homes Friday and Saturday. The hope is that residents will fill the bags with canned and boxed foods, which will then be picked up by volunteers after noon Sunday. Food bank officials say the need has never been greater. The operation, which also supplies several local food pantries, typically serves around 600 to 700 families per month on average but has seen a spike recently with as many as 900 families seeking its services.

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When it comes to naming the greens at Walla Walla's new miniature golf course, a hook is a good thing.

Owners of The Sweet Putt have been holding a communitywide "Name-the-Green" contest on Facebook. Local residents are encouraged to send in their ideas when they see renderings of the holes posted on Facebook, said co-owner Juli Dunn. A list is collected, and followers of the page get to cast their votes for the winning names.

The first two holes have already been dubbed Parallel Universe and Upsa Doosie! The names were submitted by Amy White and Jillice Beko, respectively. For their contributions, both women have won a free round of mini-golf when the indoor course opens after the start of the new year, Dunn said. Voting is currently taking place for the third hole.

Owners, which also includes Dunn's husband, Brent Dunn, and partners Tyler and Julie Morris, and their respective children, have been thrilled with the outpouring of community support as they prepare to take possession Nov. 1 of the Wellington Avenue property that will be made into an indoor/outdoor course and entertainment center. As of this morning The Sweet Putt's Facebook page had amassed 448 followers in just about four weeks.

As its next move, the group will host a Design-a-Green contest for the fourth green on the indoor course. Designers can submit their ideas on Facebook or via email at juli@sweetputt.com .

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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