Business

Eclecticism on the beaten path

"Whether we like to admit it or not, much of Bainbridge is, shall we say, establishment. And much of it is high budget.But a new gift and craft store at 578 Winslow Way East runs counter to those trends. As its name implies, Barefoot on Bainbridge is decidedly relaxed.And its owners will be happy to make a living, not a fortune. The existing outlets are for very expensive artwork or well-established artists, said co-owner Jay Ekstrom. We're trying to go more for the craftsperson, providing something affordable and usable.The store, located in the westerly annex of Bainbridge Coffee Co., is small and homey, like a friend's kitchen. And indeed, ties of family and friendship are what brought the store into being.Co-owners with Jay Ekstrom are his wife Julia and brother Carl. Jay and Julia Ekstrom's 11-month-old son - named J.J., for obvious reasons - acts as assistant manager, greeting the customers, keeping an eye on the merchandise and reminding mom and dad why they're working.Much of the merchandise comes from the Ekstroms' circle of artistic friends.I've been doing batik since the early 80s, said Jay Ekstrom, describing the ancient Indonesian art form that involves waxes and dyes to produce uniquely patterned graphic art on shirts. I met a lot of people doing that, and a lot of our friends have their work in the store.Originally from New Hampshire, Jay and Carl Ekstrom went to California in the 1980s to build houses. The pair, both finish carpenters, migrated north and eventually landed in the Bainbridge area. There, Jay met and ultimately married the former Julia Bringloe, an island native, and the trio envisioned opening a store someday.We thought Bainbridge could use an alternative shop, Jay Ekstrom said. Then Carl found the space, and we said, 'Let's do it.'The Ekstroms refinished the ceilings, sponge-painted the walls, installed baseboards and erected partitions to make a dressing room. Then they built their own display cases, the main case of hemlock and the one on the opposite wall of recycled redwood. The shop opened its doors April 20.The merchandise is an eclectic blend that includes batiks, clothes from local seamstresses, pottery, crystals, polished stones, African drums, prints and a natural mom-and-baby section.Although the store is well positioned to catch visitors disembarking from the ferry, the Ekstroms report that most of their patronage so far is from islanders. The locals are real excited to have an alternative shop, Julia Ekstrom said. The store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Parking is available to the west of the store if you can find a spot, Jay said.How's business? We didn't exactly sell out the first weekend, but we're making what we need to every day, Julia Ekstrom said.Whether we like to admit it or not, much of Bainbridge is, shall we say, establishment. And much of it is high budget.But a new gift and craft store at 578 Winslow Way East runs counter to those trends. As its name implies, Barefoot on Bainbridge is decidedly relaxed.And its owners will be happy to make a living, not a fortune. The existing outlets are for very expensive artwork or well-established artists, said co-owner Jay Ekstrom. We're trying to go more for the craftsperson, providing something affordable and usable.The store, located in the westerly annex of Bainbridge Coffee Co., is small and homey, like a friend's kitchen. And indeed, ties of family and friendship are what brought the store into being.Co-owners with Jay Ekstrom are his wife Julia and brother Carl. Jay and Julia Ekstrom's 11-month-old son - named J.J., for obvious reasons - acts as assistant manager, greeting the customers, keeping an eye on the merchandise and reminding mom and dad why they're working.Much of the merchandise comes from the Ekstroms' circle of artistic friends.I've been doing batik since the early 80s, said Jay Ekstrom, describing the ancient Indonesian art form that involves waxes and dyes to produce uniquely patterned graphic art on shirts. I met a lot of people doing that, and a lot of our friends have their work in the store.Originally from New Hampshire, Jay and Carl Ekstrom went to California in the 1980s to build houses. The pair, both finish carpenters, migrated north and eventually landed in the Bainbridge area. There, Jay met and ultimately married the former Julia Bringloe, an island native, and the trio envisioned opening a store someday.We thought Bainbridge could use an alternative shop, Jay Ekstrom said. Then Carl found the space, and we said, 'Let's do it.'The Ekstroms refinished the ceilings, sponge-painted the walls, installed baseboards and erected partitions to make a dressing room. Then they built their own display cases, the main case of hemlock and the one on the opposite wall of recycled redwood. The shop opened its doors April 20.The merchandise is an eclectic blend that includes batiks, clothes from local seamstresses, pottery, crystals, polished stones, African drums, prints and a natural mom-and-baby section.Although the store is well positioned to catch visitors disembarking from the ferry, the Ekstroms report that most of their patronage so far is from islanders. The locals are real excited to have an alternative shop, Julia Ekstrom said. The store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Parking is available to the west of the store if you can find a spot, Jay said.How's business? We didn't exactly sell out the first weekend, but we're making what we need to every day, Julia Ekstrom said."

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