When I was looking for my next interview, it wasn’t hard to see Wallcotts shining brightly from what used to be a state liquor store in the Gateway shopping plaza. One thing I’ve learned about spotting a jewel of a person is to look for something designed in a beautiful and creative way. I first noticed this when at the Oregon Country Fair. I discovered that when an artist has art I like, I’ll probably like the person, because that’s how they feel on the inside. It’s just a theory, but it seems true so far. Next time you’re out, look for a business that’s beautiful to you. Chances are, you’ll like the people inside too.
Louise Frias who has designed and created Wallcotts to be a reflection of her was an absolute charm to talk to. If you’re a local artist and you haven’t stopped in to see her, it’s time you did. More than half of her inventory is from local artists, and she’s constantly on the hunt for more. If it were up to her, I think she’d want it to be 100%. After 25 years in Retail, and travelling all over the world in operations and merchandising, she was ready to bring her talents back to Shoreline. She loves Gateway Plaza. She says they appreciate art in Shoreline, and the Shoreline Arts Council wants the businesses to participate. “Shoreline just felt right” She says.
She loves when customers come in and are in awe. “They love that it’s affordable, and they’re surprised how affordable it is! “ To bring more awareness, and to promote creative talent, she reaches out to local neighborhood associations, “We’re new to the area. We have a unique gift store and are reaching out to inspire local artists. We’re promoting creative talent in any way we can.” Wallcotts has classes every Sunday in their workshop, although Louise is hoping to increase the number of days because Sundays are currently booked into February.
She says it’s a delicate balance. She doesn’t want to carry items that are too high in price, nor does she want to have to little of a collection. Since Wallcotts is only 4 months new, her inventory is constantly growing and changing, meaning you can find something new each time you visit.
She’s got a great sense of humor, and says her passion is art. She really wants to connect with local artists, and for the most part, she says has a wide appreciation. “The whole idea of having local artists here is to help the starving artists, because there’s not a whole lot out there for them. Whereas the galleries charge 50% for the most part, we are offering 25%.” Louise points out several artists who didn’t fit their parameters, but because she wanted to help the community, she took on their work anyway. Louise says “If they have wonderful work, we’re not going to turn them away.”
From the sign to the flow of the store, Louise designed it all. “What I wanted was a feel of my favorite place in the whole world, which was growing up in a cottage with my grandmother and my family. Wallcotts is the first golden retriever; my aunt’s dog was Wallcott. She told me it meant Cottage Lover. I wanted the feel of warm comfortable cottage, the place you go to when you want to get away from everything. I wanted it to have that feel of something special”.
I could really feel the impact of color and the vibrant accessories stood out in a color coordinated rainbow sort of flow. It felt bright and clean and fun the second I walked in the door. If you are interested in appreciating color and artwork, Wallcotts definitely fits the bill. You’ll always get a warm greeting, and if it’s your first visit, Louise or her staff know every artist and can talk quite a bit about each piece. One example is that they carry material goods items which are a well-known Seattle brand started by Lauren Burman. Lauren started Material Good as a way to honor her grandmother who had been diagnosed with cancer.
Louise thinks it’s important to tell people about the art, because it’s hard to know the story when you’re just walking by. On many items, there is a tag or a flyer telling you about the artist and their work. She even has a couple of her own pieces on the wall.
I could tell from the first smile she flashed at me, this woman has a big heart and she truly cares about what she does. It’s not just a job to her, it’s her life. She made her store beautiful, because that’s what she sees when she looks onto the world.
The way I describe her business is an upscale Pier1, but owned locally, supporting local arts, and with reasonable prices. If you truly care about your community, you’ll stop by Wallcotts, and you’ll tell your friends to stop there too, because Louise is exactly the type of business owner we want in our city. If you’ve read some of my other interviews, you’ve already read how I feel about the subject of supporting local business. While writing for urbanspending.com is a new role for me in the community, talking about self-employment is not.
The reason I write urbanspending.com is because I believe in you. My vision is that people care about the survival of businesses in their community. It’s not enough for a business to just turn on their open sign either, business owners need to know how to reach and listen to their customers. Louise is in her startup phase, which is a critical time for a business. You have the power to help her be successful. Stop by and see her.
Wallcotts is on the web at http://wallcotts.com/
And in real life at:
18336 Aurora Avenue Ste. 105
Shoreline, WA 98133
PHONE: (206) 629-5170 HOURS
Mon-Sat: 10am – 8pm
Sunday: 11am – 6pm