Ashland’s annual Festival of Light is approaching, and along with serving as the kick off for the holiday season, it also signifies the end of the profitable tourist season and the beginning of the more difficult months for many local businesses, both old and new.
Ashland is not immune to the economic hardship that the country has experienced during the past few years. Several local businesses, including Tease Restaurant and Bar, the Apple Cellar Bakery, and Allyson’s Restaurant have closed their doors. Several new businesses have opened, however, and others are making changes to survive and thrive during the economic change.
Larry and Lisa Oswald closed their previous venture, Yummy Kakes, after opening Larry’s Cupcakes in May, which is located at 66 N. Pioneer St. According to Larry, they took all of their cake flavors and recipes and turned them into more affordable and trendy cupcakes, which he sees as being more appealing to the both the tourists and the younger population of Ashland. He says that there haven’t been enough businesses in downtown Ashland that students could afford to go to, and that was one of his goals: To create a nice, realistic business.
“For 6 bucks, you can sit down and have a couple of fancy cupcakes,” he said. “It’s a great place for a first date.”
Another entrepreneur who changed his business model to adapt to the economy is Chris Hurley, who opened Fire and Water glass shop in January, which is located at 300 E. Hersey St. After seeing a drastic drop in the sales of his hand-blown artisan wine glasses, Hurley switched to making glass pipes to cater to the medical marijuana industry. He now sells hand-blown glass pipes as well as glassblowing supplies to cater to the many glass artists in the valley. He calls his venture a “contextual decision, really a shot in the dark,” and says that like any other business owner, he was trying to leverage profit, and that “not everybody can afford an expensive wine glass, but there is still a demand for affordable glass pipes.”
Some of Ashland’s other new businesses are: The RedZone Sports Bar, located at 303 E. Main, which opened on Sept. 23 and Ashland Envy, which opened on Sept. 2 and is located at 60 E. Main, and Papaya Living! which opened in April and is located at 33 N. Main.
Other businesses are undergoing a change in ownership or other changes. One example is Northwest Pizza and Pasta Co., which was purchased by new owners in October. They are making several changes, including altering the appearance of the building and the recipe for the dough.
While the future of these and other Ashland businesses is unclear, many business owners are taking steps to adapt to the needs of clients in the changing economy.