Theresa Norelius was able to turn her love of kites into a successful business.
"I've always had kites as a hobby and I love to travel to the beach," she said. "It got overwhelming with the amount of kites I was collecting, so I made a wholesale purchase and became a retailer."
The Kite Shoppe opened a storefront in Vancouver's Uptown Village in 2003, moving to Evergreen Boulevard in 2004. Norelius operated there until November, when she decided the economy was "iffy" and stepped back to focus on her online business, festivals and events.
Norelius also spends many a summer weekend in Long Beach, Wash., with a kiosk vendor space at the WorldMark Resort.
The Kite Shoppe has built a strong international Internet customer base, Norelius said. The business focuses on harder-to-find high-end products rather than walk-in, off-the-shelf purchases. Most kites sell in the $200 range.
Norelius started The Kite Shoppe with about $10,000, and runs it on her own. She declined to share further financial information, and said sales are lower now than they would have been last year.
"I think people are more cautious right now about their recreational disposable income, but the core kiting community is really solid," Norelius said.
She is confident sales will pick up when the economy bounces back, especially because her customer base is focused on performing and competing.
To help get the word out about The Kite Shoppe, Norelius sponsors individual and team flyers both on the performance and competitive levels. She also has made an international name custom-making kite line sets.
"There really isn't any major manufacturer that makes a quality performance line set," Norelius said.
The cost for a custom dual line set is $35 to $50, and $60 to $80 for a quad set. About 10 percent of the shop's business is in repair.
The Kite Shoppe is the only kite retailer of its kind in this area.
"We go year-round, especially with the Internet business – it's summer somewhere," she said.
The Kite Shoppe can be contacted at 360-695-9646 or www.thekiteshoppe.com.