It was 3:30 a.m. on Nov. 17, 2023 when Lyndsey Berglund got a call from the Bellingham Police Department.
A quick conversation had her running out the door with her one-year-old baby to Penny Lane Antique Mall, a shop in downtown Bellingham that she co-owns with her brother.
Fifteen minutes later she arrived on the scene with her brother and father, taking in the shattered front door and jewelry showcase inside the shop.
Sadness and frustration filled her as she walked back to the sidewalk, thinking about the lost income for a vendor, an old friend, who lost 90% of their inventory. The robbed showcase contained jewelry and other high-end items that amounted to about $6,000.
Despite the damage, the Berglund family and a group of employees came together to clean up the shop and open it on time at 11 a.m. They used shovels to collect the glass shards and received plywood from Servpro, a local restoration company, to cover the damage to the front door.
When Jeanne Stetzer, a vendor and employee of Penny Lane, heard about the break-in, she rushed to the shop to help out. Stetzer worked on re-arranging items in the front register showcase, moving some of her inventory to less prominent areas of the shop to make room for the last of the jewelry showcase items.
“There were still some nice items left and we were looking for a way to showcase them best so that vendor could make up some of their losses,” Stetzer said.
She also painted a festive tree on the plywood door and wrote the shop hours to create a more inviting street view.
Jenny Hagemann, marketing and communications manager at Downtown Bellingham Partnership and previous owner of a small business, is familiar with the struggles of owning a small business.
In October 2021 Hagemann had to close the doors of her business, Thousand Acre Cider House, due to financial struggles during the pandemic. She understands the impact that community support can have on small businesses and as an extension, the entire community.
“Choosing to purchase from a small business versus a big box store is proven to put over 60 cents of every dollar spent back into the local economy,” Hagemann said. “Many businesses in downtown Bellingham are locally owned and operated, including Penny Lane, and rely on local patrons and tourists alike to support them through purchasing goods and services.”
Hagemann explained that by supporting a local business like Penny Lane, community members are helping the owners and employees keep their doors open and provide for their families. In Penny Lane’s case, “other small businesses have a retail location,” she said.
As word got out to the community about the break-in, Berglund said that customers came in, showing sympathy about the situation and wanting to express their support.
“It’s too bad that this happened, but it’s nice to see and feel that appreciation,” Berglund said.
Penny Lane rents out their space to about 30 to 40 vendors, which equates to about half of the shop. The other half includes newer items that the shop accumulates and sells. This duality helps to support the business and provide something for everyone.
Around the holiday season, many vendors bring out their best items to sell and the shop tries to create a fun holiday shopping experience for customers. Despite recent trends towards online shopping, Penny Lane has seen a consistent increase throughout the past 22 years that they’ve been in business.
“We've seen a constant, steady increase over the years,” Berglund said. “I think this is because you can get the basic things online, but to get a nice holiday experience and just fun shopping and unique things you have to go somewhere in person. And I think [the community] looks to us for that.”
Kyla Strupp, a customer of Penny Lane, heard about the robbery on social media, so she stopped by to show her support and do some holiday shopping.
“It's a local shop, it's local owners, it's a small business and we need to support our small town,” Strupp said.
Penny Lane is grateful for the community support, especially around the holidays, as this time of year brings in a lot of revenue for the shop and “makes the whole year,” Berglund said.
Penny Lane is open every day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is located at 427 W. Holly St. in Bellingham, Washington.
Sophie Cadran(she/her) is a city news reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a second-year journalism student at Western with a minor in communication studies. In her free time, she enjoys getting outside with friends and family, reading and swimming.
You can reach her at email@example.com