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Terri Bryant survives and thrives in downtown business | Who's Who
At the age of 24 Terri Bryant got in a car, waved good-bye to Virginia and embarked on a mission to find her new home.
It was 1977 when Bryant first landed on Bainbridge Island and found work on Winslow Way. That same year, as synchronicity would have it, the home furniture store Dana’s opened on Ericksen Avenue.
Over 34 years later Bryant is co-owner of Dana’s and finds herself still working on Winslow Way.
“I talk to my neighbors all day, every day,” said Bryant. “I couldn’t find a better way to make a living.”
She started making connections in the community through jobs in the island restaurant scene, but after 10 years decided to get out of the food business. She transitioned to Dana’s in the 1990s, and by 2005 she and business partner Mary Terry had taken it over from the original owner, Dana Berg. The shop has moved from Eriksen Avenue to the Winslow Mall and sits today at the corner of Madrone and Winslow Way.
The downtown business community is deeply ingrained in Bryant’s personal philosophy as a business owner.
“The whole street needs to be healthy in order for our business to be healthy,” said Bryant.
Her mantra has helped dictate her work as an advocate and leader of the downtown business community, including a stint as the president of the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association. In a place like Bainbridge, she said, the business owners are independently minded folks who are accustomed to making their own decisions in their own creative spaces. But with business vitality inherently intertwined, it works best to have a central organization that coordinates everyone’s efforts to enable shops to be the best that they can individually be, she said.
“The goal has always been to work together to retain our own individual identities,” said Bryant. “Preserving the buildings, the history and the culture of community is all a part of that goal.”
Bryant said that shoppers are always surprised to learn that 70 percent of Dana’s business comes from the local community.
“If the local shopper disappears then we disappear,” said Bryant. “We love the bump in business that we get from the tourists, but if the locals leave we will close our doors.”
Bryant believes that a healthy downtown corridor is one with varied businesses, from a pharmacy, bank, and grocer to retail like Dana’s. Those shops, she said, won’t survive on a tourists’ dollar.
But Bryant isn’t worried that the main street economy is going anywhere. The “Great Recession” and a disruptive Winslow Way reconstruction project haven’t prevented the Dana’s duo from creatively expanding business. In November, Dana’s found success with a two-month, pop-up shop experiment when a prime Winslow Way space went vacant right before the holiday season.
In December Dana’s teamed up with a group of six artists who formerly occupied the tiny Ginger location on Madrone Lane. Together they made “Danger,” a play on Ginger and Dana’s, where the artists work is sold alongside goods with a more “modern” look than classic Dana style.
Bryant said it was an opportunity to snag a prime location right before the reconstructed street is revealed and downtown makes its resurgence. That resurgence, and the resiliency of local business is something Bryant firmly believes in.
Though the community has expanded and evolved, nearly doubling in population since Bryant first arrived, she feels it still has that same sense of creativity and engagement that’s uniquely Bainbridge.