Starting Friday, September 25, the Blaine Welcome Center will open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The welcome center, which the Blaine Chamber of Commerce manages on a contract basis for the city of Blaine, closed in March at the beginning of the pandemic.
Chamber program and events coordinator Donna Raimey said with the reopening, the chamber hopes to provide local information to a different crowd of tourists – it’s now working to market Blaine to the south, as the U.S./Canada border has been closed since March 21.
“We’ve definitely realized that we can’t just count on northern traffic coming through and being so dependent on that,” Raimey said. “Our focus has really shifted to how to bring people up from the south. That’s important; we’ve just got to get on with life the way it is.”
Prior to the pandemic, the center at 546 Peace Portal Drive, was open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.
Though the welcome center has been closed, the Blaine chamber hasn’t been idle, Raimey said. When Covid-19 hit, Raimey switched her focus to supporting businesses with safety regulations and other pandemic-related challenges. The chamber operates the Blaine Farmers Market, which has grown from approximately five vendors a week last year to around 25 this year.
The chamber also mails out two or three “relocation packets,” filled with information for would-be Blaine residents, per week. That’s up from approximately one packet every other week a year ago, Raimey said.
“I’m here throughout the week working and the phone is ringing constantly,” she said. “The phone calls I get are from people looking for a place to hide out.”
The chamber also plans to start selling Blaine merchandise made by farmers market vendors soon.