For every word of encouragement Terry Pittenger heard as she started her business, YourSpace Designs, she also heard someone else saying, in a decidedly sarcastic tone: “Good luck with that.”
Well, so far, so successful.
Pittenger started out in 2012 in a small storefront in North Bend — about 1,400 square feet. Today, YourSpace occupies two floors — 5,600 square feet — on the corner of Commercial Avenue and Second Street in Coos Bay. Her sales of high end furnishings, housewares and other assorted merchandise have increased by 50 percent.
And she said that when some people found out she was moving into the new space, they would say: “You know, nothing ever went into that building and succeeded.”
So, why did she do it? Why did Pittenger take the risk? Simple. It’s her dream.
In the last few weeks we’ve told you the stories of Valparaiso, Ind., and Carbon County, Utah; communities that worked their way out of economic doldrums with a combination of focus, dedication, hard work, some luck and a lot of time. Those parables were intended to broaden our local perspective.
But Pittenger had that message years ago.
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One of the reasons she said she started the business was that the merchandise she’s selling now was the kind of stuff she had been shopping for here in Coos County, but couldn’t find. Then, she started hearing the same thing from other residents, folks who were looking for upper scale objects that could only be found in shops in San Francisco, Portland or Seattle.
“If I were selling that kind of merchandise here, it would keep the money local,” she said. “We’re always talking about shop local; keep the money local. Well, how could I say that and then take my dollars somewhere else?”
Now, we’re telling Pittenger’s tale for a couple of reasons, neither of which are intended to promote her business.
One: Her venture strongly suggests there is more money here on the South Coast than is immediately apparent. Her business is thriving and she’s currently employing three people (although she’s not yet paying herself).
Two: Her entrepreneurship is exactly what can help improve a local economy. When others join her with visions of their own and determination, the impact grows exponentially.
Pittenger and her husband, Dr. Basil Pittenger, are taking a big risk. They made a conscious choice to invest in this business (and take on more debt) rather than keep taking their disposable income to the big city.
That kind of commitment needs to be repeated — again and again and again.