When does the opening of a big-box store generate palpable excitement in the People’s Republic? Well, it certainly helps if the retailer is promoting—and selling—the work of local artisans. When West Elm opens its second Colorado store today in the 29th Street Mall, shoppers will find home and beauty items from 10 area makers in addition to the store’s modern furnishings.
“Boulder is a forward-thinking city that thinks globally and acts locally,” says West Elm spokesman Andreas Dru Ortega. “We are guided by many of the same principles, from our investment in Colorado-based local makers and supporting global artisans to our commitment to impact sourcing and offering Fair Trade Certified products.”
The company began planning the Boulder opening a year ago, and part of that process was hand-picking designers’ wares to feature as part of its Local initiative, which started in two stores in 2013 and has expanded to all 70-plus locations across the country. “I am thrilled to be carried in the new shop,” says Christin Wingo, owner of Boulder-based Verbena beauty products. “I love having a local presence here in Boulder.” Wingo, who will be selling unisex items including soap, lip balm, and bath salts, says West Elm found her through Instagram.
The chosen makers are spread across the metro area, including Broomfield, Golden, and Denver. Items will include hand-thrown ceramics from AWK Clayworks, printed tea towels by Counter Couture, and reclaimed beetle-kill items by Colorado Woodcraft. For Alyssa Westenbroek-Koster of AWK, the placement represents a chance to significantly grow her businesses. “This opportunity will put my pottery in front of a whole new client base who may have never found AWK Clayworks otherwise,” she says.
Want to see your goods on West Elm’s shelves? Sumbit your work to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration for the Local initiative.
Inset images (bath salts and ceramic tray) courtesy of West Elm