New furniture store opens in Blaine
One of the largest retail spaces in Blaine is back in business as of Friday morning when the warehouse furniture store Worldly Treasures opens in the 15,000-square foot former Red Apple supermarket at the corner of G Street and Peace Portal Drive.
New owner Dillon Schickli, and his crew of four full-time and two part-time employees have spent the last three months getting the building ready for the several truckloads of furniture they’ve been unloading and setting up for display.
Used for the last two years as the home of the Blender youth center, store manager Brian Hrutfiord said that the space had needed some major work to become viable as retail space. “We’ve been knocking out walls, some of which were fairly thick concrete with re-bar, getting rid of some old asbestos materials, painting and setting things up,” Hrutfiord said, “and we hope people will be patient as we move through our learning curve as a new business.”
That curve may be a bit steeper since neither Schickli nor anyone on his staff has ever sold furniture. What they do have is a combination of work experience, ambition and a readily-sold product line that Schickli feels will work.
“Nothing’s entirely risk-free, of course,” said Schickli, whose work experience over the years includes being in charge of a variety of business ventures, “usually as CEO,” he said. “I’ve always been the guy they hired to make something work, so now I get to hire myself to do the same thing,” he said with a laugh.
Before setting himself up in Blaine’s newest business, Schickli headed a large retail bottled water business that was recently bought out by the Danone Group, a French company that also makes Dannon yogurt. “But I have confidence in the over-all concept, which is to sell a quality product for a low price, which in turn makes for high turnover, and do it in a store with low overhead.”
Hrutfiord, grew up in Seattle where his father taught chemistry at the University of Washington. “Among other things I’ve also fished commercially,” he said, “and I can’t think of a better way to train for work that demands innovation, thinking ahead and being quick on your feet.”
Schickli discovered furniture sales as a business option on a recent trip to Hawaii, where he met Elsa Horvath in Kona. He marveled at the business she was doing importing solid wood furniture from Indonesia, and later when someone challenged him to make a commitment to downtown Blaine, the idea of putting the same kind of business in the old grocery store clicked.
A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Schickli came to Blaine four years ago, and readily admits that the combination of a beautiful setting and low cost of living initially drew his attention. Meeting Gloria Goodrich, the woman who would later become his partner “as a blind date at a barbecue that my realtor Linda Kiens organized” made him stay.
Goodrich grew up in Seattle and is part Native American, and though her Creek and Seminole tribal heritage is not local she is one of a very few women to become a journeyman carver in the north coast native tradition. She began in the ‘80s as an apprentice to Dudley Carter, now 97 years old, and later spent four years under the Northern Haida master carver Robert Davidson.
“Of the dozen or so students who began the program with him,” Goodrich said, “I was one of five to finish and become a journeyman.” As to her native heritage, she said that she “talked it over with my grandmother, who spoke only Creek, and she said that if you’ve been out there (in western Washington) that long, then they’re your people, too.
Schickli said that there will be a 10 foot by 60 foot curtain separating a part of the interior of the building for storage, and that Goodrich will design and paint it over the first few months the store is open.
“It’s a killer whale motif,” Goodrich said, “usually found on wooden things like cedar bent boxes. In this case I know where the original box is (the Field Museum in Chicago).”
“We just hope people will want to come in and browse, take some time, get to know us,” Schickli said, “and in the bargain they can help us identify the pictures on the wall.” Schickli is referring to several old Blaine photos that were affixed to the walls when he bought the property. “We painted around them,” he said, “because we like them, but we’re not entirely sure what they show. If you know, come on in and tell us and look around.”