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Homegrown roots: North Bend's Cindy Walker on running a downtown business
When Cindy Walker bought the North Bend Theatre in 2006, she planted herself in the heart of historic downtown. The theater, which was built in 1941, is one of the oldest businesses in the city and one of the classic icons of the community.
“I still hear stories about people who had their first kiss in the theater during the 1940s,” said Walker. “Sixth and seventh graders have been riding their bikes to the movie theater for the last 60 years.”
Walker moved to the Valley 13 year ago. She decided she wanted to run a small business. When the opportunity to own the theater came up, Walker jumped.
“It all really started with the theater,” Walker said. The business has always been a labor of love for Walker. She opened Emerald City Smoothie next door in order to supplement the theater earnings.
“There is such a strong sense of community here,” Walker said. Having a downtown business is inherently personal. Walker knows the regulars who walk into the smoothie shop and enjoys spending time on a daily basis getting to know people in the Valley.
“We are so small,” Walker said, referring to other downtown North Bend businesses. “In a population you are better together.”
Walker said that the block party is all about the idea of North Bend businesses and residents coming together to support each other. She has been blown away by the Valley’s generosity to the theater.
On May 1, Walker started the “Save Our Theatre” campaign to raise funds in order to transition the theater onto a digital projector.
Since the kick off date, the theater has raised over half of the necessary funds. Walker still needs to raise $45,000, but is encouraged by the large scale community support.
“A huge majority of the donations are under $500,” said Walker. “If you think about the community, that’s really broad support.”
Walker attributes the theater’s support to a network of supporters in the Valley.
“It’s important for people to have strong roots,” Walker said. “Theater does that for some people and I think the Valley recognizes it.”