Our corner of NW 24th & Thurman St in Portland, OR feels like home away from home, not just because of the amount of time we spend here, but because of the feeling we get from the moment we walk through the front door into our retail space. The smells, the textures, the positive effect that simply being surrounded by beautiful objects can have on a person are all reasons our shop feels like a second home.
Betsy & Will opened our brick & mortar in 2011 after a serendipitous drive-by our now current location that led to making their dreams of owning a retail shop a reality (read more about that here). It took weeks of revamping, cleaning, painting, and arranging to get the shop to a place that matched their vision for our flagship store and studio. As per usual, when Betsy & Will set their minds, hearts, and souls to something, it happens.
Over the next few years, their vision grew and evolved more than either one of them could've predicted. I always like hearing the story they tell of their plan to staff the retail shop during those first months, which was to simply stop working and go help a customer if anyone wandered in. That makes me LOL every time I hear it because it's so humble. They really had no idea how Portland - and people from far, far away - would come to embrace our shop in a way that turns even the most casual shopper into a loyal customer.
Needless to say, a retail staff was added to the betsy & iya family soon after business started to boom. When I joined the team in 2013, there were only 2 women who worked the floor, with the rest of us taking turns covering chunks of time and breaks throughout the week. In those first few years, it was likely you could come into our brick & mortar and find Betsy herself helping customers make their selections and ringing up purchases at the cash wrap.
Suzy joined us as our Retail Manager in April 2014 and she and the retail team take extremely special care to make our brick & mortar a full sensory experience from the moment you step on our corner, starting with the way we display products in our windows, and ending with us sending you back out into the world to finish your day. It's not unusual for me to come in on Monday and see the shop completely remerchandized from when I left on Friday. With each new shipment and product restock, retail evaluates how to make all items sold in our shop - from betsy & iya jewelry to candles, to bags, to bath & body care - live harmoniously in our space.
The products we sell come from all over the world. Betsy and Will, and more recently, Betsy and Suzy have taken several trips to Tuscon, Seattle, San Francisco, and beyond to source products in an effort to always offer the freshest possible merchandise to our shoppers. We aren't your cookie-cutter boutique; the effort to create a one-of-a-kind destination is so much more than you'll ever see when you visit us. And we want to keep it that way.
I particularly love showing off different angles and views of our brick & mortar, scenes that most shoppers might skim over or never get to see, like what the shop looks like from our shipping/back stock area (above) and the view from behind the cash wrap (below) where we greet every person who walks through the door.
And then, there are moments - I'm calling them 'moments' because they're so much more than corners, shelves, and tables - that are sometimes overlooked, but so, so beautiful. The way the hard texture of exposed brick contrasts with bright natural light in this corner is particularly striking. It creates a whole world, a story, a vibe around the products that invites inquiry and touch.
In May 2014, we expanded our production studio and took over space in the back of our building to create a working area large enough for our makers. This sign hangs in our retail shop above the entrance to the studio reminding shoppers that every piece of betsy & iya jewelry seen in our brick & mortar is made mere feet away in our production studio. We give tours of our studio Monday- Friday 10am-6pm, subject to our makers' availability.
I'll close this virtual tour of our brick & mortar with a shot of our famous earring wall. I call it 'famous' because it consistently brings the double-taps and comments on Instagram. I don't blame y'all for being drawn to this view; it's dynamic and innovative, and is always subtly changing to remain relevant to our shoppers. We're definitely not the largest shop you've ever been in, but we bet we're one of the most memorable (you remember how good it smells in here, don't you?).
Hope you've enjoyed this peek into our dear shop! If you haven't yet visited us, we'd love to welcome you to our shop on your next trip to Portland. We're open every day, 10am-6pm and are located at 2403 NW Thurman St.
Did I mention there's no sales tax in Oregon? ;-)
Note about these photos: the same day we asked photographer Micah Fischer to shoot scenes in our production studio, he also captured our retail shop in all its pre-opening glory. Thank you, Micah, for turning your lens so artfully on our space! You can see Micah's photos of our production studio here.