Magnolia Chamber of Commerce members  came together last month to map out 2019 plans, which include adding fundraising events that connect businesses with the community.

“We’re constantly trying to remind people that this is relevant, this is something that can help your business,” said executive director Jason Thibeaux of the chamber.

Business is going in the wrong direction in Magnolia Village, with the recent closings of Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, McLaughlin Hair Design (moved to Edmonds) and several other businesses, Thibeaux said.

The chamber is working to enhance the neighborhood’s visibility, understanding that the average person comes to Magnolia with a purpose, and not just to explore, Thibeaux said.

“You’re not driving through Magnolia to get anywhere,” he said.

The neighborhood has just three entry points, so long as the Magnolia Bridge remains a viable option. The bridge is approaching 90 years old, and SDOT is in the process of assessing several replacement alternatives.

A beautification committee has been established, which is connected to the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce, but includes outside support, Thibeaux said. The committee is waiting for permit approvals from the city before it starts its $100,000 Phase 1 campaign.

Plans for Magnolia Village include LED lampposts, sidewalk tables and chairs, so people have places to sit during the farmers market, and cement flower pots, which Thibeaux said were sponsored years ago but then stopped.

“It didn’t get many people excited,” he said, “and people would comment, ‘Why don’t we look like the University District? Why don’t we look like Pioneer Square?’”

While the chamber wants to expand its fundraising and networking events, it is doing so with an understanding that it is constrained by a number of factors, including staff, sponsors, funding and volunteers, said Thibeaux, the only paid (part time) staffer.

The chamber hosted its first Magnolia Scavenger Hunt in September, which included 14 spots for people to discover. Participants turned in their filled-out clue cards to receive prizes from local businesses through a raffle.

“The people just loved it,” Thibeaux said. “I have not received that kind of feedback before.”

This is the first year the chamber has asked the community to support its Light the Village project, which wraps trees in Magnolia Village with holiday lights. Twenty-five trees have been wrapped in the past, but the chamber is aiming for 78 this year at $150 per tree. More information about the chamber and how to donate is available at The budget goal must be met by Oct. 18, or the project will be scaled back.

The next Magnolia Chamber event is the Village Trick or Treat, where families can gather candy from businesses 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31.

Magnolia Royale is a new event this year, and will have a more business-casual James Bond theme — Aegis Living at Rodgers Park is the sponsor. The gambling will be for a raffle, and the event is taking place 6:30-11 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at Palisade restaurant, 2601 W. Marina Place. The event is limited to chamber members and their guests.

This year the chamber is focused on growing its individual members, who do not have to own or operate a business to join, Thibeaux said.

The next quarterly Magnolia Art Walk is 4-7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, and is hosted through a partnership with the Magnolia Art Experience (MAX) group. Thibeaux said the events have been good for local artists and businesses.

“It’s growing,” he said. “We’re not Georgetown by any means.”

Magnolia Winterfest runs 2-7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, and will include the annual Christmas Tree lighting at the Magnolia Garden Center at 5 p.m.

While a popular annual event, Thibeaux said the chamber has lost money over a number of years, but Winterfest has been scaled back in an attempt to avoid that in the future.

It will take more volunteers and sponsors to add events next year, Thibeaux said, but the chamber wants to plan something for Oktoberfest, as well as a poker tournament.

For people wanting to learn more about what the chamber is working on, or how it can help them, Thibeaux keeps office hours 8-10 a.m. Tuesdays at Cafe Appasionato at Terminal 21, and 4-6 p.m. Fridays at Peoples Bank, 3300 W. McGraw St. He can be reached at