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Specialty market, wine lockers will be put here

Business — Internet poll elicits numerous ideas for downtown space; couple plans 'Social Goods' business

In October, Danny and Robin Sikkens prominently displayed a sign in the window of the former Newberg Bicycle Shoppe, asking passersby what they’d like to see in the long-vacant space on First Street.

Three months later a new sign adorns the window and represents the more than 600 suggestions the couple received in response to the featured question, “What Would You Put Here?”

The new sign takes the form of a word cloud, with the larger words representing the most-suggested business types. A quick glance shows that “specialty market,” “craft/hobby” and “something for kids” topped the list.GARY ALLEN - By popular demand - A poll of the community indicated strong interest in a specialty market in the building that formerly housed the Newberg Bicycle Shoppe. That's one of the components owners Danny and Robin Sikkens plan for the site.

Some of the smaller and therefore less-frequently suggested ideas include “RC track,” “In-n-Out,” “gluten free” and, perhaps most unexpectedly, “brothel.”

The smaller words provide some entertainment, but the more popular ideas gave the couple an idea of what to pursue for a business model.

What the Sikkens have crafted from that poll is something of a four-pronged concept, consisting mainly of a market and wine locker.

On the main floor of the building will be Social Goods, a specialty market carrying “as much as possible, local goods that are coming from throughout Oregon,” Danny Sikkens explained.

That means meats, cheeses, flowers, coffee, wine and other grocery-type items sourced from nearby vendors. Because the “social good” part of the mission is to give back to the community in a meaningful way, the Sikkens’ are looking for vendors who donate some of their proceeds to a nonprofit cause of some sort.

“Every product that we carry will have a little narrative plaque (affixed) it,” Danny Sikkens said. “So you can see this item gives back to this charity.”

That means customers can choose not only where they’re buying from, but what sort of impact that purchase can have.

“When you buy something you can feel really good about it,” Robin Sikkens said.

They also aim to partner with a local organization that works with troubled or at-risk youth, an idea they want to pursue to further the guiding principle of the Social Goods concept: “This business is not about us, it’s about our community.”

On the upper floor of the space they are planning a hobby, craft and toy area primarily for young people. Kids could get hands-on experience looking into how some of the different toys function, or can get their hands dirty with paint while delving into an art project.

Even before the poll results were in the Sikkens’ were kicking around the idea of wine lockers in the basement, and with some of the respondents also suggesting some wine storage services, the bottom floor of the building will become Newberg Wine Lockers.

An old dumbwaiter, which the Sikkens theorize once was employed in conjunction with the building’s long-ago use as a mortuary, is being worked into the wine locker business: wine cases can be lowered down to the basement level using the old technology, as it is still functional enough to be repurposed.

The wood floors on the main and upper floors have also proven durable, a nice surprise as the Sikkens’ weren’t sure what the main floor especially would look like once they pulled up the carpet. Last week work continued on sanding and refinishing the floors.

Out back in the Bike Shoppe parking lot at Howard and Second streets, they are planning another way for the community to engage during the summer months.

They happen to be in possession of a giant stage purchased from an arm wrestling promoter, and with the flat space presented by the parking lot, an idea began to form.

“How cool would it be if we put in music, local shows,” Danny Sikkens said. “Get the food carts engaged so they’re around the perimeter. We get seating and then every time we do an event it either benefits a school, a church or a charity.”

It’s an idea they’re already talking with the Newberg Downtown Coalition about, and have received some excitement over the proposal.

With the 600-plus submissions from the public and the wide variety of suggestions for businesses, perhaps it’s something of a feat that it was condensed into four concepts.

The Sikkens’ plan to open the doors of the specialty market in March, while reservations are open for wine locker space.

For more information, visit www.vinooregon.com.