283 W. Marine Drive, Suite 5
Did you know theres a kite shop in Astoria? Ken Chapman, a former educator in speech, English and theater for 23 years at Astoria High School, owns Columbia Winds kite shop. Nudged in between Mary Todds and a former bathhouse in Uniontown, Chapmans shop faces the challenge of selling kites away from the beach. For more information on Columbia Winds, call (503) 325-1596.
What do you do?
I sell kites, windsocks, banners, flags U.S. and others. I spend quite a bit of time visiting with local people. Its kind of quiet here most of the time. I really kind of specialize in windsocks. I have a lot of different windsocks. I have all the Scandinavian countries, I have (University of) Oregon, Oregon State windsocks, I have military windsocks of all kinds. I guess that would be my specialty.
How did you get started doing this?
Ive been looking for something to do. Ive been at home, and Im not very good at watching daytime TV or sitting on the porch. A friend of mine Debbie, who used to have the fish market down the street said Why dont you open a kite store; theres no kite store around here. I thought Gosh; Im smart enough to run a kite store, I suppose. This space was empty and Mary (Todd) next door at the Workers Tavern is a friend of mine, and so we talked about a rental agreement, and I got some catalogues from Debbie. This is the result. Its a good place for me to be. Its a place where I have to get dressed and come to every day, meet my friends and look at all the colorful stuff, which I like to do.
What is the volume of your business?
I would say probably minimal. I dont do a lot of volume. I get some kite customers during the summer, sometimes several in a month, sometimes very few. I dont do a large volume of business here. I would like to; I just dont. People just dont know Im here. I think Astoria really isnt a kite town, like Seaside or Long Beach (Wash.) where the beach is right there and available. A lot of people come here because theyve seen the store driving by, and theyre staying in Seaside or staying someplace, and they think Oh; it might be fun to fly a kite out on the beach or something. So they come in.
How does the economy affect your business?
I dont know that it really effects my business. I think that people who want wind socks or lawn decorations or something are probably going to buy those, because theyre not really high-ticket items. Theyre things that most people can afford. All the major windsocks here are $20, and they last virtually forever theyre nylon. And Ive got some less expensive ones that probably wouldnt last that long. I havent noticed anyone complaining about the prices. A $20 windsock is probably an impulse buy or specific because they wanted Oregon or Oregon State.