Monthly Archives: January 2014

North City Bistro – The best live jazz in the area

Tucked away on a side street in North Shoreline is one of the few upscale restaurants in Shoreline which also has live music.  Besides the tremendous wine selection and elegantly prepared but reasonably priced food, the Bistro has something else, which no other business has.  That’s Ray Bloom.  Ray is the newest owner of the bistro.  After dozens of years in the wine business, Ray has brought his skills home.  First business was a music store in Chelan which also served as a stage for his band.  Ray played with Skyboys in the 70’s in Seattle.  He played with curly cook, a member of the Steve Miller Band and many other bands around Seattle. 

For a few years, he took his music business and went on the road as a rep for Pro Audio.  Next, he worked as a national director and sales manager for a Seattle based pro audio company until after 8 years, he finally tired of it and decided it was time for a change.

He bought a 100-year old grocery store in Silvana, WA and remodeled it.  “[I] built a deli in it, put in a wine and beer section and that’s what led me into the wine business.  I ran that and owned it for another 5 years and then sold it.”

Next, he was a wine buyer for a few different companies in Woodinville which led him to become an importer working for himself.  After nearly a decade in wine, Ray and his wife started working at the North City Bistro which is where I ran into him.

North City Bistro

North City Bistro

Ray says “I’m involving all of my passions here; My music, wine and spirits, the food, and I get to work with my amazing wife, plus some other really stellar friends who have pitched in and are working here now.”

Ray is the quintessential local business owner.  He has a strong sales and marketing background plus an obvious love for music and wine.    “The way I look at it is competition is a really healthy thing.  It draws more people to the neighborhood.  It’s a magical place.  There’s amazing music, and really good food. “

North City Bistro

“We do everything from scratch and everything fresh.  It’s a pretty broad menu for a small place.  I want to connect with this community because it’s a growing community with a lot of young people moving in.  There’s nothing like this around here, so we want to reach out to them and let them know what’s available. “

This place has had a reputation for the last few years for some amazing live music.  The best jazz artists in the NW call and ask if they can play here.  We have Greta Matassa, Stephanie Porter and Pearl Django playing here 3 and 4 times a year.  We’re also bringing in some blues artists and are going to start bringing in singer/songwriters as well.  We’re going to be doing music Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.”

North City Bistro

The North City Bistro might not be the first you think of when you need to get burgers and fries for your toddler, but if what you’re looking for is an elegant place that’s close to home where you and your sweetie can share some live music and a glass of wine, the Bistro definitely fits the bill.  The selection is huge, and Ray obviously knows enough about the wine itself to make sure you’re delighted with your choice.  If you see something you want to try, all you do is pay the cork charge and you can buy and drink your own bottle right there in the shop.

I know there are dozens of restaurant chains in Puget Sound which offer a great wine selection and delicious food, but with the North City Bistro being one of the only spots of its kind in Shoreline, I implore you to please stop by and see it for yourself.  Ray is a minority partner in the Bistro right now, but over the next few years, he’s going to be taking over all of the responsibilities.  He’s an intelligent and easy guy to talk to, and I’m sure, a fabulous musician in his own right.

North City Bistro

The North City Bistro can be found online at

and in real life at:


1520 NE 177th St.

Shoreline, WA 98155.

Telephone: 206.365.4447



North City Bistro


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Russ Shulman

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Need Facebook for business Help?

18 Ways to Improve Your Facebook News Feed Performance

Published January 28, 2014 Printer-Friendly

social media how toAre you frustrated with Facebook’s frequent changes to the news feed algorithm?

Do you feel like you’re being forced to buy ads to reach your audience?

While Facebook change is the rule rather than the exception, this article gives you 18 ways you can improve your Facebook news feed performance—and gain the upper hand.

How Reach Is Created on Facebook

Facebook defines reach as the number of unique Facebook users who see your updates.

To see your page’s reach, go to Facebook Insights and look at your page’s Reach report. You’ll be able to see how your reach is improving over time (as shown below).

facebook reach

How much reach does your Facebook page have?


Reach is generally influenced by one or more of the following actions:

  • You post content to your Facebook page. Yes, most of your fans don’t see it, but it still generates reach. Facebook calls this organic reach.
  • Facebook users take action on that update (like, comment, share), which creates a story in their friends’ news feeds. Facebook calls this viral reach.
  • You send visitors to that update using your own marketing channels. An example would be linking to a specific Facebook update in your email marketing newsletter. This also falls within organic reach.
  • You buy reach with Facebook ads. Facebook offers a variety of ad options, including boosts and targeting custom audiences. Facebook calls this paid reach.

All four actions are interrelated.

For example, if you publish content (organic reach) that your fans react to, friends of those fans will see that content (viral reach). If you decide an update is worthy of a Facebook ad, then the ad creates paid reach.

The more kinds of reach you generate with an update, the more people see that update. And that’s where these 18 ways you can beat Facebook’s news feed algorithm come in.

#1: Create a Content Strategy

You’ve heard this before, but what really matters in the end is the content.

Your fans don’t share a post just because they see it the news feed. They share it because it’s useful and interesting to them.

In the nonprofit world, fewer than 25% of pages have a content strategy, and I’ll bet that’s true for most small businesses as well.

If you need guidance on creating a content strategy, read these Social Media Examiner articles:

#2: Know When Your Fans Are Online

When is the best time to post on Facebook? When most of your fans are actually using Facebook.

In general, Facebook shows the most recent content at the top of the news feed. If you post an update at 2am, but your fans are using Facebook at 8am, you can be sure they aren’t seeing your updates.

You can find out when your fans are online by going to your Facebook Insights and clicking Posts.

when facebook fans are online

Post when your fans are on Facebook to ensure maximum reach.

#3: Pay Attention to Post Frequency

After looking at your Post Insights, you probably noticed there’s never a period whennone of your fans are using Facebook.

This means you should post at least once per day. Socialbakers recommends no more than twice a day, based on their research.

#4: Let People Post Content on Your Facebook Page

When Facebook users post updates on your page or mention your page, their friends see that activity in the news feed. That’s important viral reach.

In the update below, Max has posted an update on the Libraries Are Essential Facebook page. Many of Max’s friends will be exposed to this page through viral reach because his post shows up in his friends’ news feeds.

If you’re worried about spam or negative content being posted on your page, don’t worry. You can easily configure your page to block content that contains specific keywords or profanity.

viral reach

Any time someone posts on your page, it shows up in their friends’ news feeds, which results in viral reach.

#5: Host a “Caption This” Contest

One thing I’ve done that’s consistently worked well is to host caption contests as a way to generate an instant flood of comments, which in turn creates a flood of viral reach!

caption contest

Fun and easy contests or giveaways result in higher organic and viral reach.

I give away copies of great books, but you can give away anything you want. Justmake sure it’s useful and relevant to your community.

#6: Reply to Comments

To build community, you have to listen to and respond to community. People use Facebook because they want to be heard!

Responding to comments is important.

comment reply

Reply to your commenters so they know they’re heard.

Your Facebook page has an optional threaded comments feature. This means that when a fan leaves a comment on an update, you can reply specifically to that comment.

When you respond, that fan receives a notification, which is incentive to revisit your page to read your response. Increasing the frequency of visits to your page is a key part of developing a core Facebook page community.

You can turn on threaded comments in a few easy steps:

  • Go to your page and click Edit.
  • Choose Edit Settings.
  • Find the Replies heading in the list and click Edit.
  • Click Allow Replies to Comments on My Page.
  • Click Save Changes.

#7: Tag Commenters

Normally, pages can’t tag people on Facebook, but there is one exception: If a Facebook user leaves a comment on an update, you can tag the user when you comment on that same update.

tag commentersTag commenters in your reply to bring them back to the conversation.

Depending on the users’ privacy settings, they’ll receive notification that they’ve been tagged, prompting them to revisit the thread.

#8: Tag and Give Props to Other Pages

Human beings are hardwired for reciprocity. Generally speaking, when you promote another business’s agenda on Facebook, they receive a notification so they know the good deed you did for them. If they’re a good partner, they’ll return the favor.

tagging other pages

This update tagged RazorSocial.

#9: Repost Previous Top-Performing Updates

Your content strategy doesn’t have to only include new content; you can also recycle your most successful posts to reengage fans.

To find and reframe your top-performing posts, you need to know post engagement rates—the percentage of people who saw an update and liked, commented on or shared it.

To find post engagement ratesgo to your Insights and click PostsScroll down to the All Posts Published table, and click the Engagement column to quicklysort your posts by engagement rate.

To really get a feel for which updates your fans loved, export at least six months of post-level data and study it.

To bring fans back to your most brilliant and engaging content, you can:

  • Click Share on the original post and share it directly on your page.
  • Copy and paste the original post into a new status update.
  • Modify the original post, then post as a new status update.

An important note here: Don’t recycle recent content. You don’t want fans to feel like they’re seeing reposted content too frequently.

#10: Boost Previous Top-Performing Updates

There’s no way to escape it. If you’re serious about Facebook marketing, use ads. 

What I will say is this: Only promote awesome.

Investing in posts that already have a high engagement rate is more likely to give you the biggest bang for your buck—more likes, comments and shares—which translates into more engagement and reach in the long run.

Whether you have experience with Facebook ads or not, make time to read Jon Loomer’s articles on using Facebook Ads and the Power Editor to promote your top-performing posts.

boost a post

Promote your best Facebook content easily right from Insights.

#11: Feature Your Posts in a Like Box

Most people don’t know that the Facebook Like box in their website’s sidebar has a setting that lets you display your most recent page updates.

When people see your Facebook updates in your sidebar, it not only encourages them to like your page right there, but to click over to your page and take part in the conversation.

To update your Like box, visit the plugin page and configure the settings to Show Posts (as shown below).

display latest posts in like box

Sharing your Facebook updates in your sidebar Like box lures people to your page.

#12: Embed Top-Performing Updates in Blog Posts

One constant challenge for most bloggers is finding topics to write about.

Take a look at your most recent high-engagement Facebook updates and write blog posts that expand on those topics. Within the post, embed one or more of your best Facebook page updates (as shown below).

embed facebook posts

Write blog posts around your popular Facebook topics and provide a way for readers to revisit the conversation on Facebook.

This approach not only creates more reach for your best Facebook updates, it gives you blog post content that’s already been vetted by your community!

#13: Message Your Friend Networks

Have you hit a wall on your way to getting engagement? Depending on the strength of your collective friend network, try asking for shares or comments from within your personal networks.

Now, obviously you can’t force people to do this. But you can have willing parties message their friends at a time when you know your fans are mostly likely to be online.

These network shares cause a trending effect among friends connected to your business. When people see several of their friends talking about a topic, they’re more likely to be interested in that topic and click over to read more.

#14: Guest Post on Sites That Send You Traffic

If you’re a regular reader of Social Media Examiner, you know how powerful having aguest blogging strategy can be for growing your business.

But did you know you can find potential leads for guest-post opportunities right in Facebook Insights?

Within the Visits report, scroll all the way down to the External Referrers section. This graph shows you which websites are referring the most traffic to your Facebook page (shown below).

referrals from guest posts

Keep track of who’s sending traffic your way and make the most of those partnerships.

Contact the sites sending people your way and see if you can write a guest post for them.

Don’t limit yourself to guest blogging. Feel free to explore other co-marketing opportunities that may work as well.

#15: Pin Top-Performing Pictures on Pinterest

When you post images to Pinterest, you have an option to include a URL. When a user clicks the image, they go to that URL.

Try reposting a few high-performing photos from your Facebook page onto Pinterest and linking back to your Facebook update.

Make sure you use the correct permalink for the post! You can find that by clicking on the post’s publish date on Facebook (as shown below). You’ll be taken to a new page that shows just that post. Copy the URL for this page to use as your Pinterest link.

finding a post permalink

Use eye-catching images on Pinterest that link back to your Facebook page.

Keep track of how much traffic Pinterest is sending to your Facebook page via your Insights’ External Referrer graph. Then you’ll be able to determine how effective this approach is in boosting reach for your Facebook page updates.

#16: Tweet Your Top-Performing Updates

Some of my clients have had success scheduling tweets with links to their high-performing Facebook updates. Two or three tweets in 48 hours is plenty. Tweet recent Facebook updates rather than older ones.

tweeting a facebook update

Tweeting a Facebook post drives external traffic.

Make sure you’re able to measure clicks from Twitter to the post.

#17: Use Email Marketing to Promote Top-Performing Posts

This is one of my favorite strategies to use for my Facebook page. It’s so simple and effective, I’m surprised I don’t see it done more often.

Every time I write my weekly newsletter, I include a link to a Facebook page update.

For example, I recently asked my subscribers if they’d like me to write more about blogging, then I provided a link to a Facebook post where they could answer.

facebook poll

People who open and read your emails are highly likely to engage with you on Facebook as well.

#18: Identify Best Tactics With Facebook Insights

In the end, you have to find the tactics that work for your Facebook page.

Export the last six months of your Facebook Insights and study them to see what works for your page, then replicate that success with the tips above.

Pay attention to which updates resulted in new fans. Look at which posts produced specific kinds of reach and engagement (shares are more important than likes, for example).

Have you found the bounty? It’s waiting for you.

The Bounty in Shoreline

When I think of the word bounty, the word harvest automatically pops into my mind.  I see a basket full of fresh produce with tomatoes, cucumbers, loaves of fresh bread, and a variety of other colorful items.   It’s the perfect name for one of Shoreline’s newest sit down coffee spots, The Bounty on 15th Ave in North City.  I remember stopping by there when it was Hotwire.  It was dingy but quaint spot back then and I’m sure if it were still here today, I would stop by there.

I recently went into The Bounty to interview Elena DeLisle-Perry and was happy to see how nicely the new owner has done remodeling the place.  It’s upscale and feels like it’s built to last a while without needing any repairs.  I personally like the stream of cars flowing past on 15th Ave, but James has some nice insulation in his shop, so the traffic isn’t bothersome.  I love the giant wood tables which ring of an old style tavern where you can sit with others, without them feeling like you’re intruding on their space.  All the same, I feel like in this place, customers want to be social.  While I sat waiting for my interview with James to start, a customer I’d never met struck up a conversation with me which lasted about 20 minutes.  I haven’t had an experience like that in a coffee shop in quite a while.

James is new to Shoreline as a business owner, but he grew up in Edmonds and went to college in Shoreline, so opening The Bounty is more like a welcome home.  The quintessential Seattleite, James grew up in coffee shops and opened his first coffee cart in the U district when he was still in his teens.  He talked his sister into buying a coffee cart on the Ave when he was 22 years old after deciding the traditional education route wasn’t his best subject.  He didn’t stop there though, he spent many years as a real estate agent, and almost 5 years ago, he opened a brick and mortar coffee shop in Wallingford.

His expansion plans kicked into high gear when Attorney Gary East (Who owns the building and is on my list of people I want to interview) approached him and asked if he would be interested in the space.  Apparently Gary’s vision for North City involved having a coffee shop in this location.

The North City area is as much “downtown Shoreline” as the Aurora corridor is. “It has that feeling like it’s changed and it’s going towards being a more walkable place, kinda  small business area” James tells me.  He also says there’s a 160 unit apartment building going up across the parking lot which he hopes will create a nice surge in foot traffic.

I felt quite at home sitting in The Bounty, so I asked James about the decor.  He did it himself.  James has done plenty of remodeling in his life, so he was able to see how to build it out to get the feeling he was looking for.  “My style is kinda laid back”, he says, and that comes across nicely in the layout.

I’m the first to admit, I’m not much of a coffee drinker.  I usually only have it when I’m really sleepy and I have to go out, but I drink plenty of tea and my 12 year old loves steamed vanilla soy milk, so I end up in coffee shops regularly.  The Bounty helps keep the Seattle Coffee/Live Music scene alive.  Thanks to James’ designing, the space is well laid out for a band, and he has been very supportive of local talent.

I know for me, until I had a chance to talk to James, to me The Bounty was a new coffee shop in a location I’d been to before.  But now, after hearing his story and meeting this humble guy who’s doing his best to bring something good to North City, I have to admit, I’m more drawn to the place.  There’s a magnetic connection between us as members of the community.  I know James wants his place to thrive, but he’s relying on us to give him feedback.

“One of the things I value most, the most important thing you can do is learn to know yourself, and I think I put a huge focus on that in my early 20’s and up until now, and that’s been the payoff for me;  Knowing my limitations, and knowing my strengths, and letting those work for you”.

I congratulate James on finding something he loves and making a life around it. If you’re feeling stuck, or need some new inspiration, stop by The Bounty.  While you’re there, have a seat at one of those oversize tables, say “Hi” to a stranger, and let it sink in.  You’ll find yourself in a place dreamed up by a guy who created a life of magic, community, and joy for himself, and in so doing, created a place for you to be who you truly are.

Bad mustache Rides?

From Consumer Reports


Using your own car as a taxi for hire via a smart-phone app—like a Lyft car in San Francisco, with its trademark on-duty pink mustache (shown above)—might seem like a great idea that is both environmentally green and has the potential of adding the other kind of green to your wallet. Unfortunately, wannabe hack drivers should beware: Your personal auto insurance might not cover you or your car if you have an accident while you’re working at this avocation.

So-called “transportation network companies,” or TNCs, like Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar have sprung up in cities around the U.S., from Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, and Washington, D.C., to Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, and San Diego.

“Earn cash with your car,” is Uber’s come-on for prospective drivers. “You drive every day,” Sidecar reasons, “Why not get paid for it? Offset the cost of your car . . . Meet new people . . . See the city in a new way.” And Lyft, which sells itself to potential riders as “your friend with a car,” woos drivers by promising easy money: “Drivers are making up to $35 an hour + choosing their own hours!”

Riders make “donations” using their Lyft app, for example, which then pays 80 percent to the “community driver” by depositing earnings directly into his or her bank account each week. If a rider “forgets” to make his donation, Lyft extracts the “suggested” fare anyway by charging his associated credit card.

Lyft Fares are a combination of $1.65 per mile and 20 cents per minute in Denver, for example, plus $1.25 for the pick-up and a $1 “trust & safety fee”—which pays for driving record and background checks for the cabbies and $1 million in excess liability insurance to protect riders.

It’s all very clever and innovative in today’s smart-phone-happy world, where apps have an answer for every problem—like that know-it-all nerd who used to bug you in fifth grade.

But meanwhile, TNC drivers risk losing a bundle on their road to taxicab riches (not that we’ve ever met any millionaire cab drivers): That million-dollar excess liability insurance covers passengers, pedestrians, other cars, and property, but it doesn’t cover injuries suffered by the driver or damage to his or her car-cum-cab if there’s an accident.

Don’t overpay for your personal car insurance. Try our 8 ways to save on auto insurance.

Most standard personal auto insurance policies contain a livery exclusion, which doesn’t cover losses that occur while you’re operating the vehicle to drive paying passengers, according to the California Department of Insurance.

“These TNCs are really a commercial endeavor,” says Robert Passmore, senior director of personal lines policy at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, a national trade group. “TNCs give strangers rides for a fee, and the drivers are getting paid. That would generally trigger the livery exclusion.”

Lyft’s website says its excess liability insurance is designed to cover liability “for property damage and bodily injury of passengers and/or third parties,” but the first party—the driver—is not mentioned. Too, liability insurance is only one type of coverage. There’s no mention here of collision or comprehensive coverage, which would protect the driver’s vehicle in a crash or from vandals; personal injury protection or medical payments coverage, which can cover driver injuries; or uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, which would cover damage to the driver’s vehicle caused by another driver who doesn’t have enough or any liability insurance.

If you’re a TNC driver or thinking about becoming one, you’re obligated to report that use of your vehicle to your insurer. (Remember that question on the insurance application about whether you use your car for business, pleasure, or commuting? The correct answer for TNC drivers is “business.”)

If you don’t tell your insurer about your sideline taxi business and subsequently suffer a TNC-related loss, the insurer is likely to find out and may not pay your claim. Worse, your insurer might cancel or not renew your policy.

If you vehicle is financed and you haven’t yet paid off the loan, the lack of insurance could put your auto loan in default, because you’re not protecting the lender’s collateral against loss according to contract. “Loan agreements require a borrower to maintain proper insurance,” says Steven Stapp, president and CEO of San Francisco Federal Credit Union. If a TNC driver gets into an accident and their personal insurance won’t cover the damage to the vehicle, the borrower will still be responsible for the cost of the vehicle and paying off the loan, says Stapp.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported today that Uber is dealing with its own unanticipated liability issues, including a lawsuit alleging that an Uber driver was responsible for the wrongful death of 6-year-old Sophia Liu in San Francisco last New Year’s Eve.

What do TNCs say about this? None of the three companies mentioned here responded to our requests for interviews.

So check with your insurer now, before there’s trouble. You’ll probably be advised to purchase a commercial auto insurance policy, which can be significantly more expensive than personal coverage. That necessary cost of doing business should be figured into your calculation to determine whether being a TNC driver really is the no-cost easy money proposition that the app developers lead drivers to believe it is.

And, uh-oh! You may be wondering now whether you’re in similar jeopardy if you carpool with your co-workers or neighbors or give rides to strangers through state and local commuter rideshare programs. Fear not. Those arrangements are specifically exempt from the livery exclusion—something of an exception to an exception—even if you accept share-the-cost payment from your passenger for gas and tolls.

-—Jeff Blyskal

Silesia Guitars – A new addition that won’t string you along

I’ve got a soft spot for musicians, because my wife’s a singer, my son’s a metal guitar virtuoso, my other son plays drums, and I pluck an acoustic. My older one, the metal head, he’s 18 now, and has been saying for a few years that he wanted to work at Guitar Center when he was old enough. Ask him what he wants to do, and he’ll tell you he wants to build and fix guitars. For many parents, this might not sound like much of a profession, but I know the kind of time, effort, and craftsmanship (not to mention passion) a person needs to devote to doing such a thing is substantial.  I also believe in doing what you love. “Chasing money is never going to make you happy.  Do what you love”, I tell my kids.

From Wikipedia…”A luthier (/ˈluːtiər/ LOO-ti-ər)[1] is someone who makes or repairs lutes and other string instruments.”

We already know there are countless musicians in Seattle and guitar is among the most common instruments to play. What this tells me is there is a need for qualified guitar repair technicians. In most cases, the purchase of a guitar is a minimum of $200 for anything decent, and of course from there, the prices climb into the thousands. For serious students, something like a buzzing fret or a scratchy pickup can be more than just annoying, it can be a hindrance to playing. That’s where this story starts.

If you’ve recently been to The Crest Theater, or driven through the intersection of 165th and 5th in Shoreline, you might have seen a new shop has opened up where the barber shop used to be. That space is now inhabited by Dagna of Silesia guitars. Besides being a skilled bassist, Dagna graduated from the Roberto Venn School of Luthiery in Phoenix and has been practicing her craft for about 15 years. Now that Guitarville has moved out of Shoreline from where it used to live on 15th Ave, I think Dagna’s is one of only two shops in Shoreline doing guitar setups and repairs.

Silesia Guitars

One of Shoreline’s newest additions

She graduated high school and was living in Sweden. She’d always wanted to do something with her hands and was already a bass player. Dagna knew she had to do something, and this was still staying in the music business. Since she only moved here recently, she hasn’t entirely found her roots in our community yet, but she’s looking forward to meeting people and getting more involved.

She used to run the Kirkland Parson’s guitar shop and also had a space “in a dungeon” for a while before she opened Silesia Guitars. Now some of her customers are returning from her past, and some neighbors are stopping by to see who the new tenant is.

When I walked in the door, I could feel good things brewing in there. It has the delightful aroma of a shop, but with the added scenery of several gorgeous guitars here and there. Like a small assembly line, Dagna grabs her next patient off the rack and places it on her work bench. She has every tool she needs, and all the spare parts to boot. But tuning and fixing guitars isn’t all she does, She also knows how to do inlays into the fret board, replace pickups, and pretty much anything else you can think of doing to a guitar.

When she’s not in the shop, you’ll find her poised behind her bass, in her rock band called “The People Now”. She says they are one of the only bands in Seattle doing surround sound at their shows. Although Dagna’s a bass player, she’s learned how to play guitar over the years. If you’re not following me, bass is a type of guitar, but typically when someone says they play “guitar”, they mean one of those 6 stringed things. There’s an acoustic guitar like James Taylor or Dave Matthews plays, and then there’s an electric guitar, think Hendrix or Santana. A bassist meanwhile, plays a bass guitar, which can have more than 4 strings, but most commonly has only 4. Since Dagna plays bass, she doesn’t consider herself a guitar player, but I’m pretty sure she’s a heck of a lot better at guitar than she lets on. When it comes to being a luthier though, she can fix anything, because she knows how things are supposed to sound.

Dagna Silesia

Besides tuning and repairing, she really enjoys doing inlays. Someone can take an outline they have and she can inlay it into the neck. “You can use different shells, like abalone or pearl, or even different colored woods or plastic; anything that comes in a sheet that can be cut.” She likes to tell people “bring in whatever picture you found that appeals to you and we’ll make it fit”.  If she had to say what her specialty is, “it’s inlay work and fretwork.  … anything that has to do with frets, replacing frets if they’re buzzing or if they’re worn out. I’m very meticulous; I always polish them to a very shiny, shiny gloss.”

Dagna’s not shy; rather she’s confident and willing to say what’s on her mind. She won’t hesitate to tell you what she’s thinking when it comes to your guitar. As far as my story goes, I’m not shy either. I’m an open book when it comes to my motivation for writing stories about people like Dagna.

If you pack up your $800 Martin guitar and drop it down at Guitar Center, first, they don’t really care. The luthier at Guitar Center couldn’t care less if you’re there or not, there’s plenty more where you came from. Second, the relationship you have with your GC tech doesn’t do anything to support your neighborhood. Guitar Center started as something small and wonderful, and today, is a great place to buy things, but they’re not a neighborhood business. The $100 or $200 you spend at GC to get your 12- string tuned up doesn’t do much for anyone, but at Silesia, it’s so much more.

Dagna didn’t make the decision to move her business to Shoreline lightly. She thought carefully, planned accordingly, and is now doing what she can to serve the needs of the people, your needs. She loves what she does, and she needs our support. Stop by and introduce yourself to her. Even if you don’t have a guitar, you know people who do. A gift certificate for a guitar tuning at Silesia Guitars makes a great gift and supports your community. Support local businesses.

Silesia Guitars Map

Wallcotts – A ray of sunshine in the middle of Shoreline

When I was looking for my next interview, it wasn’t hard to see Wallcotts shining brightly from what used to be a state liquor store in the Gateway shopping plaza. One thing I’ve learned about spotting a jewel of a person is to look for something designed in a beautiful and creative way. I first noticed this when at the Oregon Country Fair. I discovered that when an artist has art I like, I’ll probably like the person, because that’s how they feel on the inside. It’s just a theory, but it seems true so far. Next time you’re out, look for a business that’s beautiful to you. Chances are, you’ll like the people inside too.

Louise Frias who has designed and created Wallcotts to be a reflection of her was an absolute charm to talk to. If you’re a local artist and you haven’t stopped in to see her, it’s time you did. More than half of her inventory is from local artists, and she’s constantly on the hunt for more. If it were up to her, I think she’d want it to be 100%. After 25 years in Retail, and travelling all over the world in operations and merchandising, she was ready to bring her talents back to Shoreline. She loves Gateway Plaza. She says they appreciate art in Shoreline, and the Shoreline Arts Council wants the businesses to participate. “Shoreline just felt right” She says.

Wallcotts owner Louise Frias

She loves when customers come in and are in awe. “They love that it’s affordable, and they’re surprised how affordable it is! “ To bring more awareness, and to promote creative talent, she reaches out to local neighborhood associations, “We’re new to the area. We have a unique gift store and are reaching out to inspire local artists. We’re promoting creative talent in any way we can.” Wallcotts has classes every Sunday in their workshop, although Louise is hoping to increase the number of days because Sundays are currently booked into February.
She says it’s a delicate balance. She doesn’t want to carry items that are too high in price, nor does she want to have to little of a collection. Since Wallcotts is only 4 months new, her inventory is constantly growing and changing, meaning you can find something new each time you visit.

She’s got a great sense of humor, and says her passion is art. She really wants to connect with local artists, and for the most part, she says has a wide appreciation. “The whole idea of having local artists here is to help the starving artists, because there’s not a whole lot out there for them. Whereas the galleries charge 50% for the most part, we are offering 25%.” Louise points out several artists who didn’t fit their parameters, but because she wanted to help the community, she took on their work anyway. Louise says “If they have wonderful work, we’re not going to turn them away.”

Wallcotts Sign
From the sign to the flow of the store, Louise designed it all. “What I wanted was a feel of my favorite place in the whole world, which was growing up in a cottage with my grandmother and my family. Wallcotts is the first golden retriever; my aunt’s dog was Wallcott. She told me it meant Cottage Lover. I wanted the feel of warm comfortable cottage, the place you go to when you want to get away from everything. I wanted it to have that feel of something special”.

Wallcotts color burst

I could really feel the impact of color and the vibrant accessories stood out in a color coordinated rainbow sort of flow. It felt bright and clean and fun the second I walked in the door. If you are interested in appreciating color and artwork, Wallcotts definitely fits the bill. You’ll always get a warm greeting, and if it’s your first visit, Louise or her staff know every artist and can talk quite a bit about each piece. One example is that they carry material goods items which are a well-known Seattle brand started by Lauren Burman. Lauren started Material Good as a way to honor her grandmother who had been diagnosed with cancer.


Louise thinks it’s important to tell people about the art, because it’s hard to know the story when you’re just walking by. On many items, there is a tag or a flyer telling you about the artist and their work. She even has a couple of her own pieces on the wall.
I could tell from the first smile she flashed at me, this woman has a big heart and she truly cares about what she does. It’s not just a job to her, it’s her life. She made her store beautiful, because that’s what she sees when she looks onto the world.

Material Goods

Material Goods

The way I describe her business is an upscale Pier1, but owned locally, supporting local arts, and with reasonable prices. If you truly care about your community, you’ll stop by Wallcotts, and you’ll tell your friends to stop there too, because Louise is exactly the type of business owner we want in our city. If you’ve read some of my other interviews, you’ve already read how I feel about the subject of supporting local business. While writing for is a new role for me in the community, talking about self-employment is not.

The reason I write is because I believe in you. My vision is that people care about the survival of businesses in their community. It’s not enough for a business to just turn on their open sign either, business owners need to know how to reach and listen to their customers. Louise is in her startup phase, which is a critical time for a business. You have the power to help her be successful. Stop by and see her.
Wallcotts is on the web at
And in real life at:
18336 Aurora Avenue Ste. 105
Shoreline, WA 98133
PHONE: (206) 629-5170 HOURS
Mon-Sat: 10am – 8pm
Sunday: 11am – 6pm

Cafe Aroma of Shoreline – Serving you a real neighborhood feeling

Cafe Aroma on 165th and 5th in Shoreline

Cafe Aroma on 165th and 5th in Shoreline

Coffee is a commodity, like paper towels or tomato sauce.  Similar to many products, like chocolate, baked goods, and cheese, it’s served in hundreds of different ways, and there are hundreds of varieties, maybe thousands.  But around here, and I suspect it’s the case nearly everywhere in America, getting a cup of coffee is an experience.  It can make or break your morning.  But stopping at a drive thru isn’t restricted to our morning commute; we drink warm tasty beverages and snack on delicious goods all day and night in this town.

Whenever you’re north of 175th Street heading south, or south of 145th, heading north, it’s easy to jump off the freeway and make your way to the corner of 165th and 5th where you’ll find yet another example of a business owner who is doing her best to give something back.  I’ve come across countless examples of businesses where the owner simply was there for a paycheck, but that’s not how Lyanne Scott feels.  She’s the owner of Café Aroma, one of three major businesses who are helping to make this 4-way intersection a destination and not just a pit stop.

But Café Aroma wasn’t always the Shoreline iconic spot it is today.  This place grew out of Lyanne’s vision.  Owning an espresso stand wasn’t always her dream, but these days, it’s all she thinks about.

She moved to the neighborhood in 1998 when the building was a 1947 gas station which had closed in the 80’s.  The original owner ran a small construction business out of what is now the mail box shop, and the rest was storage.  There was a small espresso cart which was wheeled in at night.  Lyanne saw something special about this building and was so completely inspired that she approached the owner and asked if she could buy it.  On more than one occasion, her offer was turned down.  A few years later, the owners sold it, but not to Lyanne.

Lyanne couldn’t get the idea of this place out of her mind.  She drove by one day and noticed it was closed when The Crest theater was open.  It felt to her like a missed opportunity.  In her mind, she saw a rooftop deck and friends drinking coffee together.  Something even more fascinating is that Lyanne had never made espresso before.  But she was compelled, like many entrepreneurs.  “Seattle was at the heart of the espresso industry.” She says.

She wasn’t about to give up though, she bought an espresso trailer at an auction but struggled to find a place to park it.  Talk about putting the cart before the horse.  By this time, the new owner had taken over this corner spot she now calls home.

Nearly 10 years had passed now.  One day, after expressing again to her husband how badly she wanted to open up a shop here, he said “If you really want Café Aroma, just go ask her again.” Lyanne tried to talk to the new owner several times, but the owner was never there.  So Lyanne wrote a letter telling her that she wanted to buy the place.  The next day, the owner called.

Lyanne found out she had already offered to sell it to two different people who had passed, and one who was still considering it.  She told Lyanne “If they don’t want it, we’ll talk”.  Lyanne was excited, and her persistence finally paid off.  Lyanne was the new owner of Café Aroma.  She still has her cart, and has used it a few times as an off-site location.

“What I’ve tried to do is make it a place the community can come to, rather than just a drive through. “

For the first couple years, Lyanne kept her job as an accountant and worked at Café Aroma too.

“For 3 ½ years, open to close, 17 hours a day, I worked here.”   It was standing room only, so she moved some things around to make space for some tables and chairs.  People would come down with their dog and kids.  Being a mom herself, she really wanted to create a place for moms.

She’s very passionate about her vision too.  “There’s a large number of moms in this neighborhood and they’re all friends.  They all know each other, ya’know?  They know each other from school, they know each other from preschool, or they walk in the neighborhood together.  This has become a place to stop off where their kids can play together and they can get a cup of coffee or tea, or even just for themselves; they can get away and the kids can play and they can read a magazine.”

Seeing Café Aroma as a place to work, Lyanne also ordered the fastest internet speed she could, which is probably one of the hidden treasures of this corner store.  A small, locally owned coffee shop with blazingly fast internet?  Sounds like a good place to spend a few hours.

She even has a space for rent which has been used for birthday parties, wedding receptions, and business meetings.

Once she had all the systems in place to run the business the way it needed to, she turned her attention to the people.  I have to be honest, the more I work on this project, the more I’m in awe of the people in our community.  Lyanne exemplifies good-hearted.  She has a true caring and a desire to create something beautiful for people to enjoy.  This is why she’s tried so hard to create Café Aroma as a place where people can come to relax, see friends, and share a few minutes with others in their community.

Lyanne tells me about a time when one of her customers tragically lost their son shortly before his birthday.  She went to the memorial service and was blown away but the amount of love present.  There were hundreds of people there.  Lyanne felt she had to do something to help, so she created “Dean Day” and donated all of her gross sales for the day to the family.  The family chose to donate the money to North King County Little League and Feed the Children.  The event was a huge success which continued on.

To help get more connected to this remarkable woman, I asked her what her motivation was.  Why did she do this?  What compelled her to do this?  “I mostly thought about his birthday coming up and them getting through that day” she tells me.  “We became a venue for giving.  We became their way of helping…We’ve done that for 3 years now.”

When it was hard, when business was slow because of the recession, Lyanne stayed true to the course.  She believes in supporting the Ridgecrest Neighborhood.  “Café Aroma is part of this neighborhood.” “…the last few years, [besides Richmond Beach Coffee House] we’re the only sit down place in Shoreline that’s not a Starbucks that survived…It hit a lot of places really hard, but 2012, they all just closed the doors.”

With all the choices of places to stop, how do we pick ours?  What compels us to drive past two independently owned espresso stands and instead, go to Starbucks?  What is it that makes us see large chain establishments as “better”?  Here’s my theory, we’re disconnected.  We don’t know the stories of the owners.  We don’t see the impact of our decision.  We don’t see business ownership as an art form, to be marveled at and gazed upon.  I hope I’m helping you to see the impact it makes when you stop at Café Aroma for a cup of Joe rather than heading to just whatever is the most convenient for your morning drive.  Instead of running into 7-11 for some juice, let Lyanne get you one.  Instead of working from home again, go sit at Café Aroma and enjoy being part of what makes Shoreline the marvelous, heart-centered community it is.  Support Local Businesses, it’s the only thing you can do to set an example for big corporations.


Cafe Aroma

Lyanne Scott and one of her fabulous baristas from Café Aroma

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Russ Shulman

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Elena DeLisle-Perry, Paul Anastasio, and Music Together

Interview with Elena DeLisle-Perry

Every once in a while, we get one of those amazing Seattle sunsets.  You know the kind, where the whole sky is painted orange and the spattering of clouds adds a depth that makes it even more mind boggling.  Elena DeLisle-Perry is like that.  The depth of her understanding of music is hard to grasp.  Her compassion and connections with people in the community leave me feeling inadequate.  We all enjoy being a contribution, but too often, our own needs get in the way.  Not Elena.  She’s found a way to be a contribution and make a difference, and make money, all at the same time.  Elena is the type of business owner that caused me to start the blog to begin with.

A warm, intelligent woman in her mid-thirties, I could tell she has plenty of “mom experience”, and from the look of things, making time for her family is something she takes seriously.  While her young son patiently waited, we sat in The Bounty on 15th and talked.

“I love music so much that it can be infectious.” She tells me.  She started on her career path with a job at the Santa Rosa conservatory of music, her mentor who taught her how to teach piano had a PhD in piano pedagogy. Who’s even heard of that?  I didn’t even know what pedagogy was until I was in my late 30’s.  (in case you’re still wondering…from


noun \ˈpe-də-ˌgō-jē also -ˌgä-,especially British -ˌgä-gē\

: the art, science, or profession of teaching)


Ever since, Elena’s career fell straight into place.  These days, she teaches dozens of families how to make music part of their life, part of their soul, and part of their daily experience.  Besides teaching guitar and piano, with a heavy emphasis on fingerpicking, bluegrass, Folk guitar, and blues, Elena has also been teaching the Music Together classes for the past 10 years and currently has 4 classes going on at the Spartan Rec Center.  It must be a popular class, because Elena currently has a waiting list.

What makes it unique is the parent involvement.  The grown-ups keep the rhythm, allowing the kids, newborn to 5 years old, to explore how the music calls to them.  Some rock their bodies, others rock the egg shakers, but everyone participates.

“The kids sing at home, I hear that a lot. That’s what this is all about, singing at home and creating more music and more joy in the lives of people.”

But wait, there’s more.  How about the benefit concert Elena is helping to put on for the Cascade Community School student, Ahmie, who has an aggressive form of cancer and needs to travel to Texas to consult with a surgeon who might be able to save her?

Then there’s her work as the music coordinator for the Ronald bog art festival.

Elena DeLisle-Perry isn’t just a music teacher, she’s an inspiration.  Now, on to her passion project.  Right, those other things, those are her passion too, it’s music, it’s art.  This is what is about, it’s about the art of self-employment.  It’s about demonstrating how people in the community who work for themselves, or who own businesses, are beautiful to watch.  Can you see the beauty in a Picasso?  I can see the beauty in a self-employed carpenter who does quality work and takes time to make sure customers have a great experience.  It’s an art form, isn’t it?

Okay, back to our local hero of the moment, DeLisle-Perry.  Tierra Caliente, Mexico is a place you may only have heard of if you know Paul Anastasio, Elena, or Juan Reynoso.  For the past 4 years, Elena has been closely working with Paul Anastasio, who is one of the most well respected and most experienced violinists around.  He’s been playing since he was 9 and is now in his 60’s.  Paul spent the past 10 years documenting and reproducing folk music from Tierra Caliente which was in danger of dying out.  Now it is saved.  Elena has been learning the backup guitar part, which is not only a wonderful opportunity for her to work with a master musician, but also puts her in the unique position of being able to carry on a long tradition of music from Mexico.

She tells me about the parents who come to her class.  “Many of them feel they can’t sing.  There’s a cultural thing where people think if they’re not on American idol, they shouldn’t sing, but music is like talking and walking; it’s part of being human.”

Although Elena does have some private students, because of her commitment to her family, she’s been waiting until her youngest was in school to fully embrace the individual teaching role.  That day is fast approaching, so if you’ve been thinking about learning guitar, banjo, or piano, it might be a good idea to get on her waiting list.  Not only is this an opportunity to learn from someone who has tremendous experience, but supporting Elena in teaching music is a gift to the community.

What Elena is doing is essential to the survival of our community as the joyful and inspiring place it is.  Someone has to lead a movement.  Elena is doing that, and she needs our support.  She directly impacts over 70 Shoreline kids, their families, and countless others with her passion for teaching.  Indirectly, she touches communities on an international scale with her love of the Tierra Caliente music and by continuing to help Paul Anastasio share his lifelong practice with us.  Compare this to so many of the music teachers in the world who simply offer themselves up as a commodity.  It’s one thing to teach guitar as a way to make money, but it’s entirely another to teach it as a way to continue your life’s mission of bringing joy, music, and happiness to people’s lives.  Who would you rather learn from?

I had a chance to speak to Paul Anastasio to see how he sees Elena’s role in our city.  He says “if you can snag them early, then some of them might play music to them all their lives.”

I asked him why it mattered.  Both his folks played music, his dad was going to be a professional oboist and was on a scholarship until WW2 started and when he came out, he decided to become an anthropology professor.

“Although he didn’t play professionally, he played as an avid amateur.  It’s an avenue of self-expression, It’s an outlet for feelings.  As with any art, it’s a release, a retreat from the cares of the ‘regular’ world.  You can just enjoy playing music in its solace and it’s also a form of communication.  As Elena turns these kids on to music, it’s all good stuff because it puts it into their brain at an early age.  They’ve discovered that kids who have studied music before 12, later in life, when they hear music, giant areas of their brain light up.  It makes a permanent change in the brain.

With the amount of time you put into becoming a musician, you could be a brain surgeon. The difference is that when you screw up as a musician, all that happens is people don’t buy your CDs. “

I know I’m inspired by her.  Maybe it’s easier to see the “business as art” model with Elena because it’s music, but the reality is all businesses feel like this to the owner.  It’s a dance of getting the customers, keeping the customers, growing the program, doing the “work” of the business, and hopefully, feeling completely fulfilled.

If you’ve been thinking of starting a business, or if you have one now, please consider joining  I am helping 888 people in 2014 to start and run businesses they love.  Also, please click the banner ads on the page. It helps to support me, so I can keep writing stories about the remarkable people in our community who nourish our roots by pouring their passion into the community.

For more information on Elena, you can visit her website at

Her next two events in Shoreline are:

January 31st at The Bounty in Shoreline: Violin Music of Tierra Caliente Mexico, with Paul Anastasio and The Onlies 7:00-9:00

Saturday February 8th at a Benefit for Ahmie, a 14 year old girl struggling with an aggresive cancer.
Please come out to support her family!  Suggested donation $10-$20 at the door but no one will be turned away.  Elena will be playing at this event with Hot Lands Trio, WhistlePig AND Toulooloo.  There will also be a Belly Dance troup, a Celtic ensemble, chair massage, a raffle, ect.
At “The Bounty” on 15th ave in Shoreline


As always, if you haven’t yet subscribed to the blog and podcast, please do that too.  I promise to keep churning out well thought out, quality content.  Please share this, and ask your friends to click my banner ads too.  Thanks.

Russ Shulman

Click Here to watch a video animation about my business philosopy

Get your customized business evaluation at


Skypename: Trustedruss

Phone:  206 794 3864

Fax:  206 395 2291

You’ll never guess why you’re the sandwich generation

You don’t have to sit with Keith McClelland for long to determine he is one of the more well connected members of our community.  Perched on the top floor of the Shoreline Business & Professional Center next to City Hall, Keith has a fantastic location for walking to one of my favorite sports bars, Jersey’s.  Keith and I had a while to chat yesterday and I was fascinated by how well he knows the city of Shoreline.

I found out he moved to Shoreline in 1998 with a commitment to shop locally because he believed in the community.  His wife then spent two terms on the planning committee and he joined the Shoreline arts council eventually becoming president.  7 years ago, he along with some other business owners was instrumental in getting the annual North City Jazz Walk going.  A musician himself, he write orchestrations and plays piano in a big band.  I’ve often found musicians to be good hearted people to talk to, and talking to Keith was no different.  He is a friendly gentleman with a kind smile and is a pleasure to talk to.

Having practiced law for nearly as long as I’ve been alive, he displays his knowledge through who is more than through what he says.  I could tell from how much he had to say about our fine city, that he could go on for days about the practice of law.  As is the case with many attorneys, Keith can handle many different types of cases.  As a generalist, he handles civil law, but he specifically is known

His motto is high touch, not high tech.  He calls people when he can, instead of emailing.  He’d rather have you drop by his office instead of contacting him through his website. In fact, I couldn’t even find his website.  Keith serves the needs of local residents in what he calls the sandwich generation.  Those who have aging parents and young children.  Hey, that’s me!

I asked him, how do people know when they finally reached the point where they need to find an attorney to handle their estate planning?  His said that if one parent has passed away, for most people, that would be a good time to talk to him.  Of course, this is if you want estate planning and probate advice.  I got the impression Keith could handle just about any civil matter you threw at him.

You probably don’t have an ongoing need for what Keith offers, but you are likely to need help with things like wills, trusts, and probate at least once in your life.  At the level of supporting your community and making Shoreline a better place, Keith is hard to beat. If you want to help support local businesses, but you don’t happen to have a need for his services, here’s what I suggest…

  1. Send him referrals.  It doesn’t even matter if they become clients.  If anyone you know says something like “I need an attorney”, tell them to call Keith.  If he can’t help, he’ll absolutely refer them to someone who will be excellent.
  2. Support the Jazz Walk.  Go there in August when it’s happening.  If you are merchant in North City, pay the $60 bucks, open you doors, and join in.    If you have any time at all, offer to volunteer on the committee.  They need more bodies.
  3. Stop by and introduce yourself to him. Like I said, he’s not a big fan of technology, but if you want to meet someone who’s got his finger on the pulse of the city, Keith McClelland is one of those guys.

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