A Taste of Edmonds: What’s next? | Art & Appetite

By James Spangler | Aug 17, 2017
Photo by: Brian Soergel

As an NCAA Division I women's basketball coach, Jan Nicholas discovered that an important element to her work was marketing. From recruiting, to gathering sponsorships, to increasing fan base and attendance, Jan learned a lot from 10 years of coaching.

Last September, Jan joined CEO and President Greg Urban at the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce. Recently, she turned her attention to the Taste of Edmonds.

She discovered that a sizable segment of the merchants and residents were ambivalent about the festival. She set to work to do something about that.

She explored bringing in more local restaurants, and this year Kafe Neo, Demetris and Scott’s were represented – all regulars – as well as nearby eateries like Moonshine BBQ in Lynnwood.

But she observed that many businesses were unable to spread their staff that thin, or didn't have the equipment and licenses for a second, mobile location.

Since the Taste isn't really just about food, Jan set out to find a way to connect other local businesses to the more than 40,000 visitors.

This year, several other local businesses had a presence there: Rogue, Walnut Street Coffee, Zinc, Edmonds Psychic, Beach Camp at Sunset Bay, Just Frogs Toads Too, Lularoe, Maid Pro, Ann Made Jewelry, Tupperware and Koumbara Industries (Greek donuts).

At the very least, awareness of Edmonds is raised by an event of this magnitude. Participants may be occupied by the Taste when they visit each August, but my guess is that many return to explore the town another day. Edmonds is on their radar in part because of events like the Taste.

I attended the August DEMA (Downtown Edmonds Merchants Association) meeting and was struck by Jan's infectious enthusiasm and positive attitude. “Let's make the Taste an event where everyone says ‘Yay! The Taste is this weekend!’”

Whether that ever happens remains to be seen – you can't please them all. But her attitude and demeanor expressed to me and others in the room a willingness to work with local businesses in the community that I hadn't witnessed before.

Even critics must realize that the Taste benefits our community in many ways. Edmonds-Woodway High School's Waste Warriors earned about $4,000 and the Boys & Girls Club earned $6,339 from tip jars in the beer and wine gardens, an increase from the last two years. (According to Chamber President Greg Urban, the taps flowed on 126 kegs.)

Let's not forget the Chamber itself, which relies on proceeds from the Taste to help bring events like An Edmonds Kind of Fourth, Classic Car Show, Halloween Trick-or-Treat and the Tree Lighting Ceremony.

As they evaluate this year's Taste, Jan says the Chamber will consider how the city is changing and attempt to change with it. It will continue to try to add more Edmonds businesses into the mix and work to change perceptions – creating a Taste where critics begin to see the throngs of visitors as an opportunity, rather than a liability.

One new development this year, where Edmonds residents could enter free during the first hour of the Taste, drew between 400 and 600 people, Urban said.

I see a willingness at the Chamber to truly partner with the community that I find encouraging. As Jan puts it: “When you really listen, when people know you respect them, good things can happen. That’s how you build partnerships.”

Look for the Chamber’s next big event, the Classic Car Show, on Sunday, Sept. 10.




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