9th Street businesses/neighbors forming association

“Photo: Kala Dralle, owner of Heel! a shoe store that opened Sept. 8 on So. 9th St., Tacoma. Bernardo Tuma, who owns Aroma, an espresso coffee shop and restaurant at 112 So. 9th St., is the founder of the newly formed South Ninth Business and Neighbors Association (SONI).SONI is made up of about 35 residents and business owners along 9th St., from Sprague to A Street, who plan to work with the city for improvements on the street.We haven’t called regular meetings yet, Tuma said. We want to establish objectives and itemize what we want to accomplish to form the basis of an organization.Tuma said SONI would address multiple issues. We want to have a cohesive voice when we have problems. We can help each other and the city with ideas, guidance and creative consulting. We want a cohesive plan to bring people to downtown Tacoma. We’ll focus only on 9th Street, to develop it as a retail corridor.Tuma doesn’t believe there would be a conflict between SONI and other business developing agencies already in existence. Each area will create its own energy and develop its own ways and strategies and downtown Tacoma will benefit.Tuma said there are issues the city needs to address soon, as the business district is developing quickly. I’ve seen five new businesses occupy just my building alone in the last six months, he said.Some of the 9th Street issues SONI will tackle are:lParking-The answers to this will not be easy. It’s the number one problem. The city has failed to implement anything new and creative.lGarbage collection-Martin Luther King and Sprague look unsavory and seedy. Even low-income areas should be provided with services anyone should have, Tuma said.lLighting-Some areas need more illumination at night. There is a misconception with the public that downtown Tacoma is not a safe place to visit. We want to enlighten them that it’s not that way anymore.Tuma believes SONI will bring positive results. It will be good for 9th Street, good for downtown and good for the people at large.For any questions about SONI, contact Tuma at: 572-8215, or e-mail him at Tuma@gte.net.Heel!Kala J. Dralle is the newest business owner on 9th, with the number 116 over her doorway. Dralle combined her love of footwear with her marketing background and set off on her own after 14 years with Frank Russell.I was project manager for marketing materials when I left, she said.Dralle credits her friend, Lisa Ottoson, with naming the store.I’m a dog person and when I was talking over the idea she immediately said, ‘Heel!’ and I knew that was it.One of her dogs, Scout, was the model for the store’s logo.Heel! carries shoe lines by Franco Sarto and Kenneth Cole for both men and women. There are also Ecclissi Swiss watches, Unisex leather goods, and other accessories.Dralle is already confident in the benefits being a SONI member will bring.It will help us coordinate our attempts to get information from the city to make changes if changes can be made, she said. The idea is to give downtown customers the opportunity to shop here at lunch and after work.Dralle can be contacted at 253/383-7237 for the store’s hours.Frona and Zigz A few footsteps from Heel!, at 118 S. 9th St., is Frona and Zigz, named for owner Linda Morrison’s parents.She carries an eclectic assortment of items, from heart-shaped hot water bottles, soaps and candles, to silver collectibles and Straffordshire teapots.She has been in business four years, and relocated to 9th Street in June from her N. 21st Street location.I’ll be a part of it, Morrison said when asked about her thoughts on SONI.We’ll watch out for ourselves and pay attention to our area so we don’t get left out. “