Entrepreneurs Ivan and Hyenam Park of Yakima are betting on the Tri-City economy. They have moved their fledgling clothing and accessory boutique, Sugar Pop, from Yakima to Kennewick's Highland Center at Highway 395 and Clearwater Avenue.
So far, the Parks are commuting from Yakima but plan to soon make the Tri-Cities their home.
The Parks opened their first Sugar Pop store in Yakima in September 2009. It was in an out-of-the-way place without much traffic, foot or car, Ivan said.
"But we wanted to test out our idea of opening and running a shop, so since we live in Yakima we opened one there," Ivan Park said. "Our customers kept saying they liked our store but were heading to the Tri-Cities to do more shopping."
After hearing that for months, he said, they looked to the Tri-Cities.
"There's just no comparison between Yakima and the Tri-Cities. Your economy is much better; it's not one city, it's three," Park said. "The average income is much better here than in Yakima."
The Parks carefully chose their location. They couldn't afford the rents in the larger strip malls, but when they saw the Highlands Center with Starbucks Coffee, Gold's Gym, REI and all the traffic, they knew they had found their spot.
"I like that the parking lot is generally full and there's lots of foot traffic," he said.
Ivan Park's background is in construction and real estate, while Hyenam is a nurse.
But years ago she worked for a friend in Utah who had a similar shop.
"So Hyenam has experience in retail," Ivan said.
They did the remodeling themselves.
"I planned on having everything ready in four weeks; it took six," he said. "Even when we opened on Oct. 14 we were still putting clothes out on hangers."
Sugar Pop is stocked with mainly junior fashions in sizes small to large. There's some dressier selections but the majority is casual, with some flash and flair.
"Our best-selling line of jeans is L.A. Idol. They're all low-cut, skinny, boot-cut jeans," he said.
The shop also carries shoes, handbags, hats, jewelry and other accessories.
Hours are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Saturday, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org