Business

New Morning dawns at Pavilion

Bernie Reynolds displays his wares at New Morning in the Pavilion. - KATHRYN HAINES/Staff Photo
Bernie Reynolds displays his wares at New Morning in the Pavilion.
— image credit: KATHRYN HAINES/Staff Photo

Bernie Reynolds has spent much of his business life on the move as a commercial fisherman and a vendor at a variety of expositions.

But for the past 16 years, he and wife Rochelle have made their home on Bainbridge Island, and put their four kids through schools here.

Hoping to make his business as settled as he is, Reynolds is opening New Morning in the Pavilion, which he hopes will become a permanent location for his sweater, women’s wear and gift store.

“I live five minutes from here. This will be perfect if I can make it work,” Reynolds said.

Many of the hand-knit sweaters and ponchos displayed at the front of the store bear the label “Woolies,” from Bellingham. But they actually come from Ecuador, Bolivia, Mexico and Hungary.

“Woolies,” Reynolds says, is actually a label that his brother Michael uses at his Bellingham-based import business.

“The story – I don’t know whether it’s literally true or not – is that a group of Ecuadorean women were taught to knit in the ‘60s by Peace Corps volunteers in an effort to establish cottage industries. They formed a co-op, and these are their grand-daughters,” he said. “Michael has been importing them since 1975.”

Because his brother has four stores, they can buy in volume – which means that they can have a “fair” relationship with the knitters and still offer prices in the range of $60 to $85, Reynolds says.

Another group of sweaters and knit caps bear the label “Lost Horizons,” and as the literary reference suggests, they are indeed made in Nepal.

The women’s dresses in the rear of the store, some of which also bear the “Woolies” label, tend towards the bright and tropical. Most of them are from Bali, in Indonesia, and some are from Thailand and India.

“This is a place in the wintertime where ladies can shop for something to take on a vacation, or who want to brighten things up,” said Reynolds of the dresses made from rayon, silk and cotton.

The gift selection is a pastiche of woven African and Indian purses, Indonesian drums and didjeridoos, Balinese pottery, painted wooden boxes from Poland, Japanese tiki lights, Oriental wall hangings and Vietnamese silk lanterns imported by Star Trading on Day Road.

“I have travelled in Indonesia, which is where I got a lot of these things,” Reynolds said.

There is also a strong Northwest flavor to the crafts – wind chimes are from Whidbey Island, candles are from Port Townsend, soaps come from Bellingham, jewelry comes from Hoodsport and Lake Stevens and hand cream comes from Allyn.

“I like to deal with local people,” Reynolds said, “but the main thing is that I’m trying to find as nice things as I can that are reasonably priced.”

Fish to fabric

Reynolds was born and raised in Bellingham. After taking a degree as Washington State University, a degree he says “I didn’t do much with,” he started fishing commercially in Alaska.

“But I got too old for fishing – that’s too hard,” he said.

While he was fishing, the family moved from Bellingham to the Eureka, Calif., area, then “gravitated” with friends to Bainbridge Island.

When he retired from the fishing business six years ago, Reynolds started selling sweaters at Renaissance fairs and Scottish Highland festivals. For the past two years, he has taken seasonal space in the Kitsap Mall from October through the Christmas season.

Instead of returning to the Kitsap Mall this year, though, he took the space in the Pavilion formerly occupied by the Kurt Lidtke Gallery. The store’s first day was Halloween.

Saying that foot traffic in the Pavilion “follows the movie and restaurant crowd,” Reynolds says he plans to be open from about noon to 9 p.m., and will close on Mondays.

With his merchandise mix and his pricing, Reynolds is aiming at the after-school crowd.

“I’m trying to establish this as a place for younger people,” he said.

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