Yelm is quickly growing economically, with a variety of new businesses opening around the city within the last year alone.
These businesses include The Local, Munchies Plus and 507 Auto Detailing. Owners and managers of these businesses cited Yelm’s growing population as a reason for opening in the city, and they are prepared for an upward trajectory in consumers.
“Yelm has actually been fantastic to start a business,” said Candice Rambo, co-owner and executive chef of The Local. “It has that small-town feel. For the most part, people have been super supportive about what we’re trying to do.”
Jeff Stockbridge, owner of 507 Auto Detailing, said because Yelm is a small town, customer service is very important because word of mouth pushes business.
“I am surprised at how well business is going,” he said. “I thought it would be a little slower, but it’s been booked immediately from the start.”
Kelci Jones, co-manager of Munchies Plus, said Yelm residents have responded well to the bubble tea shop inside King Cronic.
“A lot of people that have come by frequently have let us know that they enjoy the fact that we have so many options,” Jones said.
According to Yelm Chamber of Commerce Director Amanda Munoz, 20 businesses have joined the chamber in 2023. She said Yelm’s growing population and tourism makes this a good time for business owners to look into the city as a location.
“Businesses can see the potential in Yelm and the potential for growth,” she said. “We’re nicely located in between all of these big areas like Lacey and Olympia. We have a really awesome population here who loves to shop locally and support our local businesses.”
As Stockbridge noted, word of mouth is one of the biggest factors in growing a new business, but social media has helped spread the word faster and more effectively, as well. Numerous Facebook groups based in the Yelm area allow business owners to promote their services and interact with customers directly. They also allow for customers to voice their opinions about the businesses and recommend them to friends.
“Before, we would have to wait for somebody to post on Facebook that they needed a detailer, and then I’d comment and say that I can help with that,” Stockbridge said. “Now, we’re so far along that we can sit back a little bit, and people are hitting us up all the time.”
Opening a business takes more than social media promotions and knowledge of the product or service one sells. It comes down to the fine details that prospective business owners often overlook, Munoz said. Electricity, plumbing, taxes, labor, remodeling and branding are just a few of the aspects that owners said caught them by surprise during the early stages of opening their business.
“Quality over quantity is important,” said Gala Layseca, co-manager of Munchies Plus. “Like with plumbing, you want to invest in someone who is going to take their time and that really knows what they’re doing versus just doing the quickest, easiest fix. Quality is important. Your customers will notice.”
Checking with the city about the permitting process is also important.
“We reached out to the city to ask them about what things that we’d be required to submit permits for,” Rambo said. “We were able to expedite the remodel process by staying within some narrow guidelines from the city that we found out about ahead of time because I knew to ask the right questions.”
No two processes of starting a business in Yelm are exactly the same, but there are several steps that every prospective business owner must take. Obtaining a City of Yelm business license through the Washington State Department of Revenue is the first step. This can be done online at dor.wa.gov.
Additional permits could include the Home Occupation Permit for business owners operating in their home, the Peddler Permit for door-to-door services and the Driver for Hire License. More information is available on the City of Yelm’s website at https://www.yelmwa.gov/work/business_in_yelm/index.php.
Munoz said that prospective business owners should look at the economic landscape and find their niche so as to not overlap with other businesses. She added that getting to know the community and finding ways to volunteer will help gather a clientele