After starting Saturday at Paddle in Seattle—which was awesome and pulsing with energy—I joined Danielle and a couple friends to explore part of South Park late Saturday afternoon. First we stopped by Lowercase Brewing, where they were super friendly and let us squeeze in a quick tasting before a private party got rolling (can’t wait to go back). That ended up being a piece good fortune, though, as it led us to discover another great spot just a few blocks away.
Tin Dog Brewing was just opening as we arrived, and owners Lisa and Eric, who specialize in Belgian beers, were incredibly warm and welcoming. We were sitting at a table outside, and before long several other groups filled the brewery, which isn’t large but provides a surprising amount of seating. A few regulars showed up to watch the Sounders whip the Whitecaps, and several dogs wove between legs and tables with wagging tails. Lisa even brought out some fun hats to help one guest celebrate his birthday. The scene was neighborly and vibrant, and it made us feel very much at home.
I’ll never underestimate the power of small businesses like Tin Dog to generate such a wonderful sense of community—a gathering spot for neighbors to meet and mingle and get to know each other. Nothing enhances a feeling of welcome and safety like recognizing friends and neighbors, and sharing in the life and activity of your community. That’s why I believe the more we can do to encourage small businesses to open, the faster we’ll help neighborhoods grow and develop. The barriers to entry can be hopeless and prohibitively expensive for so many potential new owners, and I’d love for us to be far more ambitious in how we help give them a start. I’m definitely in favor of improving access to fast, low- or no-interest loans, and providing direct development grants to get a business up and running. We don’t need the immediate return from interest; what we do need are the jobs and revitalization that come with a growing, thriving, working community.
I know some loans will have to be forgiven, and some businesses won’t last. But I’d rather be bold in supporting local business owners, because you won’t ever really lose when you invest in people and community!