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Small Business Spotlight: Airport Businesses

May 3, 2018

Sea-Tac incubator is one of the best incubators for small businesses. Today, we feature three small businesses that keep Sea-Tac Airport travelers well-fed, stylish, and happy.

CHALO Seattle 

CHALO Seattle specializes in totes, socks and other themed items that express the unique experience and people of Seattle. The kiosk at Sea-Tac Airport has been open on the C Concourse since December, after owner Danialle  An attended one of the Port's Dining and Retail training workshops for small business owners.Danielle An of Chalo She said attending the workshop gave her the knowledge and courage to apply for a kiosk space. 

Prior to owning her own business, An worked on customizing designs for other businesses, specializing in conveying the unique personality and the magic of different cities.

When opening CHALO Seattle, An chose to focus on the unique attributes of her home city, Seattle. “Every city has a story to tell and cities are not often represented in a way they deserve,” she said. “There is something very vibrant and different about each city.”

She said that she has been amazed by the number of people who pass through Sea-Tac and her kiosk each day. “I am learning the business in a way that is safe and less risky in terms of opening my own store. It’s the perfect model to test the waters in retail.”

Floret Vegetarian Restaurant

When Nat Stratton-Clarke was looking to open his second vegetarian restaurant, Floret, he first thought of popular neighborhoods like Ballard or Bellevue.

Headshot of Nat Stratton-Clarke“The airport came up in conversation but at first, I couldn’t wrap my brain around it,” he said. “But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s such a great place. It’s where people need great food and should expect great food. It is people’s first introduction to Seattle and their last stop before they leave so let’s make it a great one.”

Floret is celebrating its third month at Sea-Tac Airport and Stratton-Clarke said that so far, business has been great. He also has owned and operated the popular vegetarian restaurant, Café Flora in Madison Valley for the past 10 years. “Seattleites really respond to high quality food and service.”

Floret has a grab-and-go counter as well as a full-service sit down restaurant where customers can enjoy a quality vegetarian meal and hand-crafted cocktail. Although the restaurant is much smaller than the Café Flora location, they see the same number of customers throughout the course of the day. He said Floret has a lot of regular customers.

“We have a lot of folks who fly two or three times a week; we see them sitting at the bar or in the coffee line and we know their drink order already.”

Planewear Aviation Store

Long after leaving her career as a flight attendant, Jennifer Longley’s love of aviation has continued on through her labor of love — an aviation-themed retail store at Sea-Tac Airport called Planewear. The store sells pillbox hats, airplane buckle belts and bags, and other apparel and accessories that take the customer back to the old fashioned, glamorous days of flying. 

What started as an online store selling airplane seatbelt belts and Jump seat Longley, owner of Planewearbags in 2004 has blossomed into a successful small business at Sea-Tac Airport. Longley says that the airport is the perfect place for a business like Planewear, which has become beloved by aviation aficionados and flight crew members, who she said sometimes plan layovers in Seattle just to come to the store.

There are many challenges to owning a small business. “We are competing with bigger companies with a big presence at the airport,” she said. “That can be very expensive — the cost is huge.”

And, owning a small business requires dedication and passion.  “It’s 24-7,” she said. “The store is open seven days a week, 15 hours a day … if you want to open a small business you have to be aware of the commitment.” 

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