BEND, Ore. -

Fourth-quarter business occupancy rates stayed about the same, 95 percent, in downtown Bend, officials say. However, there were three new businesses that set up shop.

These new merchants are showing us people are coming from afar to work in downtown Bend. One of the newest additions, Bend Modern is one example.

"We lived on the East Coast for many many years," co-owner Kelly Zimmerman said Friday.

Zimmerman and her business partner, Serena Christy, ran a successful fitness facility in Connecticut for 25 years. After vacationing here several times, the women decided it was time for a lifestyle change. They sold their business and packed up their families (and four-legged friends).

"The feeling of, how you feel when you're here is really amazing," Christy said.

The two business partners followed more than the highway to the newly renovated 1000 Wall Street building, their new businesses home.

"Let's follow our passion, which is modern-style furniture and vintage watches," Zimmerman said.

They aren't the only ones following their passion from far away places to downtown Bend.

"It is, in a way, an influx of new folks bringing new energy to our downtown, which I think is positive," said Chuck Arnold, executive director of the Downtown Bend Business Association.

With other businesses also moving in with not-so-local owners, it could be a new trend, but it isn't the usual.

As Bend attracts new business owners from near and far, downtown will continue to flourish and offer new items up for grabs.

"We want to be a concierge, if you will," Zimmerman said. "Of the odd piece, the great chair, the great dining table, some beautiful accessories or vintage watches."

With Websites and worldwide reach, and business names like Bend Modern, this city could get on the map even more.
   
"We really wanted to incorporate the place into our name," Christy said.

Bend Modern's website will be up and running within the next couple weeks. They moved into their space in December and are open for business.

"You know the downtown area is thriving some of the businesses are great and you know we just wanted to be a part of that," Zimmerman said.

The two other new businesses are Legum Design at 922 Bond Street and Dowgwood Cocktail Cabin which is located at 147 Minnesota Avenue and under construction.