Annual Review

At the retirement of founding Executive Director Vickie Chambers the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association welcomed new Executive Director Rainy Simpson last month (July).

Image by Cade Roach of

Annual Update and Impact Statement from Board President Kathy Baxter

Hail and Farewell

After a decade of inspired leadership as our first and only Executive Director, Vickie Chambers has retired from her post.  Vickie has been a tireless leader, bringing the Main Street concepts and ethic to the Coupeville Historic District.  She has had an eye on the street and an ear finely tuned to the needs of the merchants and owners. The Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association owes so much to Vickie as a stalwart leader and innovator.  Vickie, we wish you all the best, and we will be visiting you soon and often to get our hot dogs!  Thank you Vickie, for all that you have been to CHWA over the years.  And thank you, too, to Randy who has been at the ready whenever he was called upon.  Above and beyond, Randy.  Above and beyond.  We truly appreciate both of you. And appreciate Vickie, ever more, for staying on over the next few months to help with the transition and upcoming events.

Rainy Simpson and Vickie Chambers

Now we give a hearty welcome to Rainy as our new Executive Director. Rainy and her family came to Coupeville from Northern Idaho five years ago, and she immediately got involved in promoting diversity issues in the community and in the schools.  She is a respected leader and an excellent listener and organizer.  Many of our members have already met Rainy. ALL members and friends please extend a warm welcome to Rainy, and feel free to let her know what you are hoping for from CHWA. Her door will always be open.  Welcome to the team, Rainy.  We’re all looking forward to this new chapter.

Impact Statement

2021 has been a year for flexibility and adaptation.  As businesses, you have done those multiple pivots, changing your business models to suit strange new circumstances.  From restaurant take out strategies to more robust on-line sales, you have done it all.  As a result, rather than multiple vacant storefronts and a sagging economy, the sales revenues have boomed in spite of the Covid experience.  We have been surprised at the number of people who have been visiting and shopping here.  Year over year, sales tax revenues are up over 40%!  With that boom in numbers we have also seen an exacerbation of visitor management issues like traffic, parking and pedestrian safety.  Our Organization Committee has taken this issue on as a study focus with the goal of arriving at some recommendations intended to start a creative problem solving discussion with all of the stakeholders.  Our meeting tomorrow will be dedicated to exploring some of those ideas and eliciting your response and feedback.  We hope you can attend and let us hear what you are thinking. We have reached a turning point in Coupeville where we need to implement some changes in order to provide a good experience for all of us as more and more people discover the charms of our little town and our unique and spectacular natural setting. 

Looking back over the last year, we can be proud of the accomplishments that CHWA has achieved. While unusual the Red Ticket Drawing for 2020 was a success in December with an online drawing.  And after the closures, our community and island masked up supported local businesses!  Like the Red Ticket, all of the Holiday events morphed into Covid safe and friendly events. Gingerbread Houses were a take-home affair, as always with the partnership of the Friends of the Coupeville Library. With the help of the Central Whidbey Fire Department Chief Ed Hartin and his crew Santa was able to greet kids from atop his Fire Truck sleigh at the Cent. But the white lights went up and the town felt festive with wreaths and lights just the same. 

Image taken from inside The Kingfisher Bookstore.

Musselfest planning, a year long affair, went on with hopes of a let up in the virus.  With so many things needing to be put in motion and purchased months ahead, we were flying on hope.  Alas, the virus numbers in Island County were abysmal as March neared and there was no option but to cancel Musselfest 2021.  We now have a storage locker filled with Musselfest cups (luckily without a date on them!) and the expense that purchase involved.  We count on the proceeds from MusselFest to fund much of budget throughout the year.  This year has been more of a challenge without that seed money.  But we have the cups!  We are hoping that folks will continue to support us in getting this important shoulder season event under way for a 2022 reunion! And crossing our fingers the virus will be beaten back enough (get that vaccination!) to allow a 2022 Musselfest!  One way local, regional and Washington state business owners can help is through the Business and Occupation [B&O] tax credit program afforded to us through our Washington Main Street desigation.  Thanks to our fellow Washington Main Street town Directors and boards, the Washington legislature increased the cap on B&O contributions for Washington Main Street towns by adding more to the matching fund! It’s a boon for small towns like ours!  In October the state’s B&O credit the portal will open allowing businesses paying Washington B&O to increase their contributions.  Many of our B&O contributors based their contributions on a projection of revenues that were very hard to predict in 2020.  And still many came through. With the robust sales activity we have seen in the recent months, we hope those B&O benefiting contributions will come rolling in, with new businesses added, when the B&O portal opens in October. Fingers crossed.

In the absence of Musselfest drawing business into town, we opted to focus on the Shop Local concept with promotions starting with Clean Out the Coupe, a district wide January clearance sale. The Be Our Valentine promotion brought folks to town in February.  And to keep our oar in the Musselfest water we held a Mussels in March promotion asking restaurants to feature mussels on their menus.  We brought in Spring with the flower baskets. We really appreciated the participation and support of our members, Coupeville and Island residents and visitors with these events.  Planning began in February to participate, as always, in the Chamber of Commerce’s Haunting of Coupeville with a variety of events themed around Practical Magic.  We are calling this Practically Magical in Coupeville. And, drum roll please, we’re bringing the movie back to town for special viewings!  Showings will be at the Rec Hall, two Saturday night cocktail events, and a Friday night Family Friendly screening.  There will be a Bike event that will swing through town, a kids scavenger hunt, and of course our annual Pumpkin Races and Torchlight Parade and costume contest.

Moving right along, our Design Committee has continued to work on the Wharf project, removing the gravel, encircling and ornamental cherry tree’s and now the beautiful new steps to the picnic tables on the bluff!  Benches for the Wharf entry are built and installation details are being worked out. 

We were happy to, also, produce another Facade Grant cycle with three projects funded in a very tight budget year.  Thank you to all of the applicants and to the review committee for your diligent and careful evaluation of the projects.

The Economic Vitality Committee overseeing the LENT loan program we dreamed up to help local business hurt the most by the pandemic made two LENT loans this year, and we continue to fund this program.  These loans have no interest for the first 18 months, and are focused on giving a boost to businesses without having to go through a prolonged bank loan process, or to avoid paying high credit card costs for short term financial needs.  

Additional exciting news for 2021, is our being asked to come on board as an “Anchor Organization” for Washington’s federally designated National Heritage Area [NHA]. The designation of our state’s NHA is referred to as the “Washington Maritime Heritage Area”. Overseen by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation this national heritage area spans over 3000 miles of Washington saltwater shorelines. In an area with a long tribal and settler maritime history, it is our honor to work with other waterside communities and Tribes to enhance and share Washington’s maritime heritage with the land locked in our state and country. It’s an exciting project! Find out more here.

As many know there are a lot of changes happening with and within Ebey’s National Historical Reserve, of which Coupeville is a part, we look forward to getting to know new people, seeing new projects and ideas be born, and working together on the important projects that aim to improve all things Coupeville for residents, our members and visitors alike. 

It has been a busy year here at CHWA.  We so appreciate your participation, your support and your friendship! We are grateful Coupeville is a resilient community of devoted, hardworking and hearty northwesterner’s willing to help and be helped!

Because of our stalwart membership and those business owners who’ve made B&O tax credit contributions we have been able to forward our mission. Thank you all!

Kathy Baxter

Board President, Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association

2021/2022 Budget at a Glance

B&O Tax Incentive Contributors

A Touch of DutchHarbor Gift & Art GalleryThe Kingfisher Bookstore
BayleafIverson InsuranceThe Seaside Spa & Salon
Blue Fox Drive-InLavender WindToby’s
BOJK Ken HofkampPeople’s BankTown of Coupeville
Branch BusinessPrairie Center The Crows Roost
Captain Whidbey InnPSETrefethen
Chambers AlliancePort of CoupevilleWhidbey Island Bank
Coffee on the CoveOystercatcherWhidbey Weekly
Coupeville InnSerendipity CateringWhidbey Island Airport & Charter
Currents BistroSpoiled Dog WineryVail Wine Tasting
Front Street RealtySHKS Architects

For information on becoming a member, volunteering, or to inquire about self directing your taxes to supporting the community through the tax incentive program, contact Rainy directly.

Rainy Simpson, Executive Director 

Tel:  360-682-6400