All Signs Point To Terrace Heights For Growing Sign Company

saras signs

Originally published in May 2017

What started as a therapeutic side project has ballooned into a multi-platform sign-making bonanza for Sara Bickler, owner of Sara’s Signs.

About six years ago, the 41-year-old Woodland resident started painting messages on wooden signs as a distraction from her battle with thyroid cancer.

Bickler’s creations were sought after from the start, and she eventually needed to open a production facility and hire some help.

Now she’s doing about $1.5 million in annual sales and wants to keep the business growing.

Continue reading “All Signs Point To Terrace Heights For Growing Sign Company”


It’s Full Speed Ahead For Yakima’s Valley Brewing

valley brewing_2

Originally published in June 2017

Three friends, an old taxidermy shop and a dream.

When you break it down, that pretty much tells the story of Valley Brewing Co., a new brewery and taproom set to open this summer on River Road.

Joe Daily, Korey Shroyer and Ethan Frenzel — each 25 years old and a graduate of West Valley High School and Central Washington University — had always talked about starting a business together.

Continue reading “It’s Full Speed Ahead For Yakima’s Valley Brewing”

Yakima Home Business Owners Enjoy Independence, Challenges


Originally published in March 2017

Starting a home-based business requires confidence, courage and a little creativity.

Maybe some startup capital.

But not all home business owners decide to go it alone for the same reasons.

Life events, such as a family illness, might push someone toward becoming an entrepreneur.

Some professionals are tired of the daily grind. Others are in search of a career change.

Continue reading “Yakima Home Business Owners Enjoy Independence, Challenges”

Zillah’s Avalanche Distributing Becomes A Coffee Stand Staple


Originally published in June 2017.

It started small and snowballed from there. Eventually, Dave Fergus and his buddies were buried.

That, in short, is how Avalanche Distributing was born.

Fergus started the Zillah-based espresso stand supply company out of his garage in 1995, delivering flavored syrups and other wholesale items to businesses around the Yakima Valley.

A few years later, when the espresso craze started taking hold, Avalanche started roasting coffee and launched the Valanga Gourmet Coffee brand out of its River Road warehouse in Yakima.

Continue reading “Zillah’s Avalanche Distributing Becomes A Coffee Stand Staple”

Zillah Radio Repairman Still Tuned In At 86 Years Old

radio guy_1

Originally published in August 2017

John Arthurs knows a thing or two about old car radios.

In fact, he might know more about them than anyone else in the Yakima Valley.

The 86-year-old Zillah resident has been tinkering with radios of all shapes and sizes since he was a kid growing up in Seattle.

Now he’s got a garage full of them, mostly of the automobile variety.

“It’s just a hobby, but it keeps me pretty busy,” said Arthurs, who moved to Zillah with his wife, Genie, from Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood in 1999. “Some people like to golf. Some people like to fish. I do this.”

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Jazzercise A Passion And A Career For High-Energy Instructor


Originally published in July 2017

If you want to know what “fit” looks like, meet Brenda Kokenge.

The lifelong East Valley resident has been teaching Jazzercise in the Yakima Valley for 35 years, and she is the defining image of a fitness instructor.

Five-foot-3, 114 pounds and all muscle, the 57-year-old Kokenge exudes boundless positive energy as she guides eight classes a week through a series of choreographed routines.

She has been a licensed Jazzercise instructor since graduating from Central Washington University in 1982, perfecting nearly four decades’ worth of dance moves.

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Shroom To Grow: Selah Fungi Farm Finds Loyal Following 


Originally published in October 2017

Growing edible mushrooms in the Yakima Valley doesn’t sound like it would be especially productive.

Some might even say it can’t be done.

The dry air and seasonal temperatures of Central Washington produce some of the finest fruits and vegetables in the world. But those conditions are less than ideal for fungi, which require a damp, dark environment to thrive.

That didn’t stop Selah farmer Michael Bennett from trying.

For the past seven years, the owner of J&M Gourmet Mushrooms — with help from his wife, Judy — has created a healthy habitat for a dozen varieties of specialty mushrooms that he sells to area businesses and at farmers markets.

Continue reading “Shroom To Grow: Selah Fungi Farm Finds Loyal Following “