Bremerton tries to broaden customer base after sequester

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on March 2, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 2 at 6:40 PM

BREMERTON, Wash. -- With the threat of military civilian workers taking a 20 percent pay cut, the City of Bremerton is spearheading an effort to counteract potential losses to the business community.

An outreach effort called “Growing Bremerton Together” aims to broaden the city’s customer base.

“We can’t just count on the people living in our community to spend in our community,” said Patty Lent, Mayor of Bremerton.

The city is equipping concierges at Seattle hotels with visitor guides and is hoping their word of mouth will attract spending.

According to Mayor Lent, the community was close to fully rebounding from the recession. Sequestration cuts could sink business profits down to that level again.

“I may have to cut the hours back because I might not get the business I thought I was going to have,” said Aaron Duffin, owner of Bicycle-Works.

Duffin, who opened his shop in July, expects to fix fewer flat tires and expects customers to push worn out parts further.

“I’m just figuring it out day-by-day, seeing where it goes,” said Duffin.

Aubin Ahrens Photography is developing similar plans.

“Our work is pretty much a luxury,” said co-owner Theresa Aubin Ahrens. “People are going to continue to get married, they’re going to continue to have babies, but they might get a smaller package than they were before.”

One of Bremerton’s newest businesses, Kama’Aina Grill, is lowering some prices by at least $3 to accommodate workers impacted by cuts.

“A furlough meal. It will help them out a little bit,” said owner Bert Dollente.

Duffin is hopeful he’ll stay afloat while the government gets in gear.

Mayor Lent estimates economic uncertainty for at least the next six months, which falls in the area’s busiest tourist season.

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