US Market Report: A look into the Emerald City

Posted by Dave Farley
April 9th, 2010


I recently travelled down the I-5 freeway to visit our southern neighbour, Seattle. Here are a couple of things that I found of interest.

The 1st thing that caught my attention is something that I have not seen a great deal of over the last few years, ‘Help Wanted’ signs.  I thought those things were as elusive as a Sasquatch but there they were, at least a ½ dozen signs in a number of store fronts looking for help in retail sales and hospitality.

Is this an indicator that the market is finally beginning to turn in the Pacific Northwest’s largest city? Like Vancouver and the rest of BC, Seattle has weathered the economic storm better than most. House prices did not plummet and this month actually saw an increase in value. The city is anchored by a number of large corporations representing a number of sectors including Boeing, Starbucks Coffee, and Microsoft. Together, these three companies and the spin-off companies that service them, make up a significant amount of the employment in the Emerald city and surrounding areas.

The residential and commercial builders in the Puget Sound region are beginning to get busy again as construction is on the upswing when compared to last year. The general consensus seems to be that the Pacific Northwest and Seattle will come out of this downturn quicker and stronger than many other regions in the US. With a driving time of a little over two hours from Vancouver, it makes sense that our members revisit this market to develop sales opportunities and re-establish relationships with our northwest neighbours.

seattle2There is an interesting building product retailer and distributor in Seattle that I think you should check out. ECOHAUS is eco friendly building supply chain that was founded in Seattle in 1992 and has now expanded to open locations in Portland and San Francisco. This company focuses on supplying both the builder and retail market with green building materials and interior finished products. They essentially carry all of the products that you would typically find in a” Home Hardware” size store, except, these products are considered eco-friendly and sustainable. I stopped by on a Wednesday morning and the store was busy with a mix of building contractors and the Seattle eco-mom looking to source formaldehyde free kitchens and zero VOC paints.  I even spotted some nicely finished reclaimed Douglas Fir flooring that was described as being from the Stanley Park blow-down from a few years back.

seattle_flooringHave a look at their website,, there may be an opportunity for some of our members to supply green building materials through their retail outlets and to reach the growing eco-friendly building materials market.


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