On a Friday morning, Cheri Buell, Julie Chung and Heather Dean are hurriedly preparing their newest shop for a busy weekend ahead.
It’s The Real Twin Peaks Days in the Valley and, with the sounds of the show’s main theme playing in the background, the three owners are tagging custom-made merchandise and preparing for a book reading in the afternoon.
Since the trio opened North Bend Trading Company, a Valley-centric souvenir shop along North Bend Way, many days over the last few months have been similarly hectic. But being “on a jog, or sprint” is something they happily welcome.
“The philosophy behind us running around like crazy is because community is first and business is second,” Buell said. “We feel privileged to work in this community.”
After getting keys to their new shop in late November – determined to open in time for the holiday season – the trio completed a remodel and secured a business license in only 15 days, opening in time for North Bend’s annual tree lighting on Dec. 3.
The merchandise in their shop, ranging from apparel, to posters, candles, books and other novelties is 90% local Dean says, most of it is even unique to their store.
Their shops feature local vendors – like Dark Horse Ink, Ramsey Gear, Carnation Candle Co. and Blue Streak Chocolate – and local artists, designers and authors such as Beth Vanden Heuvel, Claudia Richey, Jack Schnepf, Josh Tuininga and Brian Dickson.
It is the second shop the three have together. They opened Snoqualmie Trading Company, a sister location to the one in North Bend, last year. Meanwhile Chung and Dean also run Snoqualmie Ice Cream, which they opened in the summer of 2021.
Months after founding the ice cream shop, Chung and Dean were already making plans to open Snoqualmie Trading Company. At that point, they said, it was just a matter of figuring out how.
That is when Buell came into the picture.
While volunteering with a partner business that occupies the same building as Snoqualmie Ice Cream, Buell overheard Dean and Chung talking and offered her help. Her resume included two decades of experience working for retailer Eddie Bauer. The pair were wondering why they hadn’t thought to ask her in the first place.
“I think it was meant to be,” Chung said of the partnership.
With the three together, they opened Snoqualmie Trading Company next door to their ice cream shop in December of 2021, just in time for Snoqualmie’s annual tree lighting.
Since shifting from their corporate jobs, Buell, Chung and Dean emphasize its things like watching school buses or Montessori students go by their storefronts or knowing the names of the kids that frequent their ice cream shop that bring them the most joy. They revel in being part of the community and helping to build it up.
The Trading Company shops, they said, were born out of that idea. The Valley was missing a place where tourists could shop for local items and community members could support local vendors, artists and authors.
“People here are really proud of our community,” Chung said. “We want to help them show it.”