Sunday, June 23, 2024

Never judge a store front by its cover.


CASHMERE— Never judge a store front by its cover.

On the south end of downtown Cashmere sits a simple wooden building. From the outside, one may think it houses two or three stores. Yet around nine businesses happily coexist inside the quaint facility south of downtown. Those local companies will be combing to host the Holiday Market on Mission on three consecutive Saturdays. The markets will  continue on  Dec. 10 and Dec. 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The market will also be open Friday, Dec. 23 from 1-7 p.m.

            Just a block down the street from Aplets and Cotlets, the Mission District Building at 207 S. Mission Avenue served as a pear-packing facility from the 1940’s to the early 1990’s. With its old beams, vaulted ceilings and reclaimed timber from local orchards, the building offers a homey aura for shoppers.

 “There’s so many people who live around Cashmere that are not aware of this building,” said Claire East, owner of Cashmere Cellars which has been at the Mission District since 2012. “Everybody enjoys coming in and just looking around at the ceiling . The ambience is good. I’ve seen the building change in time. It’s a good change. It’s a good feel in here.”

            Other established Mission District businesses include Leony’s Cellars, Color FX, and Cashmere Moon Co. Over the years, the remaining spaces have housed a variety of local businesses, mostly women owned. More recent tenets include J5 Coffee and Salt Creek Apothecary. Local artists Michelle Andurst and Mountain Heather Photography open their studios to shoppers. For Mission District, the name of the game is variety.

“We offer a wide range of delightful finds, from antiques and apothecary to coffee roasting, art, designer fashion resale and even floral arrangements,” said Rachel Carey, who along with her cousin and best friend Jacqueline Leslie, has helped lead an effort to revitalize the Mission District Building. “Even more amazing is the enthusiasm and encouragement we are all finding in each other. This group of ladies is becoming family and friends, and that kind of support is invaluable.”

Carey and Leslie head Fernweh, a boutique which offers a wide selection of vintage home décor and furniture in addition to high-end designer fashion resale. Leslie owns the store and Carey is the manager. In addition to running Fernweh, which has its grand re-opening party on Dec. 3, their larger goal is to bring awareness to the Mission District Building and the entrepreneurs and artists who call it their business home.

Leslie also views the boutique as an intimate opportunity to add a personal touch to someone’s living space. Though some aspects of Fernweh will be online, she feels the in-person shopping experience is priceless.

“I want people to walk in and feel like they’re home already,” she said. “I want it to be part of a larger story and it’s the story of a person’s home. So, you want to see that face to face. You want to touch it. And I want people to come in here and touch and sort of breathe in the possibility of what they’re creating for themselves.” 

As Fernweh grows, Leslie hopes to create a brand for it, and there is an underlying motive included in that. She aims to create a transitional skilled trades program for people who are exiting out of human trafficking. Recently, she partnered with Atlas Free, a Kirkland-based organization that offers aftercare to victims of human trafficking. Atlas Free will receive ten percent of Fernweh’s proceeds. Through this partnership, Leslie wants the victims enter a world that may feel beyond them.

“I want to bring that world back within their reach because they’re coming out of this horrific experience. They need to get aftercare where they’re connected with mental health care services, legal services and not having some big blank on their résumé that maybe they don’t want to have to explain,” she said. “They just want to go and live their lives, and we hope that we’re able to be a part of them doing that.”

            Sometimes when businesses share the same facility, it creates an atmosphere of rivalry and competition. That is not the case with the Mission District crew. They realize that a rising tide floats all boats and are happy for whoever gets the business, and it will take a combined effort to make sure everyone enjoys success.

“The nature of our work is going to take a lot more boots on the ground. With the support of everyone else in the building, more communally we can have that inertia to continue to build the momentum and get people to know about us,” Leslie said. “Having that communal group also breeds more creativity as we create new ideas to find out ways that people might want to engage with us.”

            Carey mentioned that one of the biggest challenges for the Mission District group is simply advertising and making people aware of the opportunities available. With the holidays now upon North Central Washington, this dedicated group of business owners hopes to share with the public on the outside what the special building holds on the inside.

“We see the magic in the bones and just how we feel being here throughout the day, and I think that we are just excited to share that with folks,” Leslie said, adding that the hope for the building is “to create an attractive space that people can come to and feel relaxed and have a variety of experiences while they’re here. Come and hang out with their friends for a great cup of coffee or wine or have a fantastic shopping experience, just making it a place where people want to be.”




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