Downtown Vancouver scene sees several new businesses opening

Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 4:23 PM PDT
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VANCOUVER, Wash. (KPTV) - Faith Odman says staying inside during the pandemic made her think about her idea for a new business.

“Even me personally, I was working from home the past several years,” Odman said. “It gets lonely, you know?”

She decided to act by opening Kilnfolk Clay Studio & Gallery in downtown Vancouver at the end of April.

“There were open spaces so I got a realtor and we just started looking around and seeing what it would cost to lease somewhere,” she said.

Odman found her perfect location on Sixth Street. She said the combination of a need for a pottery studio outside of Portland and pandemic opportunities have helped her get off to a fast start.

“Maybe I could even grab some of those folks that were over (in Portland) that were on a wait list,” she said. “Or really needed to get in somewhere or just wanted to try out the wheel.”

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Executive Director of Vancouver’s Downtown Association Michael Walker said while some businesses did not survive the pandemic, most were able to adapt.

“Those business models that have been changed have sustained and ultimately provided a stronger base of businesses in downtown,” Walker said.

Walker said besides Kilnfolk, other new businesses have opened. He said the economy is growing with more jobs and more housing.

“By having a strong employer base and a strong residential base we’ve been able to foster that 24/7 activation of businesses in supporting more amenities ranging from retail to restaurants,” he said.

Odman said she’s noticing the downtown environment changing.

“I know a lot of local Vancouver folks who have been here for a really long time used to think of downtown as kind of being a dive,” she said. “But there’s so many new businesses within the last few years that make it really cool.”

Full interview with Kilnfolk Clay Studio & Gallery owner Faith Odman

Odman said she’s already looking at expanding towards the new Vancouver waterfront.

She encourages anyone thinking about following her same path to go for it.

“I think coming out of the pandemic was a good time to jump on the bandwagon,” Odman said. “It’s my first business. I’m learning a lot.”

Vancouver’s Downtown Association says it’s also looking forward to improvements to streets in the area. There’s a project planned to improve pedestrian accessibility on Main Street starting in 2024. Construction on a new Interstate Bridge from Oregon is planned to start in 2027, but it is still in a planning phase.