Sales for rural home-based businesses get easier

Home-based businesses in rural King County now have more flexibility in what they can sell on their property, according to County Council members who on Monday changed the rules for such entrepreneurs.

The new, simplified regulations allow on-site retail sales of goods that support the traditional rural industries of agriculture, forestry and equestrian activity. They also remove what council members called unnecessary regulations and restrictions that were often misinterpreted as an exclusive list of activities that were allowed as a home-based business.

The old rules allowed home-based rural sales only if the products were produced, grown or built on-site, the council noted. Sales of items that weren’t produced at the business were allowed only if the orders were placed by mail, phone or online. That led to some unnecessary and complicated interpretations of the rule. For example, customers who went to a Maple Valley horseshoe store that didn’t manufacture its own horseshoes, nails and rasps had to select their purchases, telephone the clerk standing a few feet away, and then go back to their car to have their purchases delivered to them.

Councilwoman Kathy Lambert said the new regulations will serve the respective interests of rural communities and the businesses.

“In this age of technology, some business can be done in-home without impacting neighbors,” Lambert said. “Local sales of equipment and supplies needed in the rural area will also help ease traffic congestion by reducing the amount of driving needed to access these resources.”

Councilman Larry Gossett said rural entrepreneurs should now feel more encouraged “to expand their companies or open new ones.”