Arktana, our boutique shoe store in Downtown Camas, received the Entrepreneur of the Year award at Washington Main Street’s Excellence on Main Awards Ceremony on April 25 in Ellensburg, Washington. The ceremony was held in conjunction with RevitalizeWA, Washington State’s Preservation and Main Street Conference.
Ann Matthews opened Arktana, which is affectionately named after her family’s two states of origin – Arkansas and Montana, at 415 NE 4th Avenue, Camas’s main street, in 2014. With an entrepreneurial background and a robust business plan in place, Ann was able to hit the ground running to quickly develop her business into a shopping staple in the region.
Ann’s passion for her business benefits customers, employees, and the community at large. By working closely with vendors to ensure only the highest quality products and by providing creative opportunities for customers to engage with the shop through private parties, appreciation nights, and extended business hours, Arktana emphasizes customer care.
Arktana’s employees also benefit from this people-first model. Ann intentionally provides first job opportunities to young people in Camas and calls out special skills she sees in her employees. Ann discovered that a quiet young woman she had recently hired had a talent for photography, and now this young woman plays a leading role in Arktana’s marketing efforts. Of Ann’s nine employees, four are high school students.
In many ways, Arktana is a very place-based business. In September, Arktana partnered with a local human services provider on a promotion. For every pair of shoes that was tried on during the event, Arktana donated one pair, and for every pair that was purchased, they donated two pairs. In total, Arktana donated 100 pairs of new shoes to low-income families in the Camas-Washougal area. Additionally, Ann and her staff consistently collaborate with other downtown Camas merchants for photo shoots, promotions, and events.
“Ann is inclusive by nature and understands that if all downtown businesses do well, then all downtown businesses do even better,” said Carrie Schulstad, Executive Director of the Downtown Camas Association (DCA). “She collaborates with other downtown merchants to create fun events and initiatives to help others get exposure.”
When severe winter weather kept many customers away during pivotal sales months, Ann contacted the DCA to suggest a special shopping promotion to bring the community downtown. Not only did Ann lessen the burden on the DCA by helping coordinate the Winter Celebration efforts, but she also partnered with them to market the event by paying for the graphic work and assisting with other promotions tasks, which resulted in a successful sales weekend for many downtown merchants.
“Ann is a model and champion for the role of a downtown business owner in revitalization efforts,” said Breanne Durham, Washington Main Street Coordinator. ”Arktana’s positive impact on downtown Camas extends far beyond its own four walls.”
The Excellence on Main Awards, organized by the Washington State Main Street Program, recognize communities, organizations, and individuals who are helping to achieve economic vitality and build sustainable communities through downtown revitalization and preservation.
Washington’s Main Street Program is housed in the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and administered, under contract, by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Entrepreneur of the Year award recognizes the innovation, dedication and entrepreneurial spirit displayed by our entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Congratulations Ann and Arktana! We are so proud to have you as part of our downtown!