After setting up shop for over 10 years on Winslow Way, the Seattle Children’s Hospital Bainbridge Island Bargain Boutique has moved to Hildebrand Lane and will have its official opening Saturday.
The move was due in large part to the owner of the previous building who is proposing to demolish it and rebuild on an adjoining lot for a large event center with 87 rooms, a spa, and an outdoor amphitheater, store manager Robin Denis said.
“We had to secure another location, and there wasn’t many places on the island,” Denis said. “We were at 4,200 square feet excluding bathrooms, and now we are at 2,400 square feet with the one bathroom. It’s a substantial scale down.”
Denis admits that isn’t ideal for her business, noting that it will not be able to accept large furniture now. On the bright side, Denis is grateful her shop is still operational amid the COVID-19pandemic that has caused many hardships for local businesses.
Denis said the new location will provide a different marketing strategy that will hopefully reach new customers and volunteers.
“The previous location was more in a neighborhood, more suburban,” she said. “It was treasury for a lot of people who walked that way, and it was accessible by walkers from the ferry terminal and for boaters who boated in. We will lose all the ferry traffic that we had, which is substantial. Of course this year, we aren’t losing any because there isn’t any.
“We are aware that our current location is more accessible to people,” Denis continued. “Not everyone travels down Winslow Way West, it’s kind of a funny nook of Winslow Way. A lot of people who lived on the island their whole lives didn’t know we were here so we might get more public awareness at this location. We’re hoping that will make up for the loss of the ferry traffic.”
The boutique shop initially closed during the early stages of the pandemic in mid-March and reopened June 1. Denis said “very strict” virus protocols were in place, such as disinfectant cleaning, social-distancing, mandatory masks and the use of hand sanitizer.
“We follow all of those to the tee. We met our sales goal for the month of June, which is shocking. People never really crowded the store,” she said.
The shop is the oldest of six boutiques for Seattle Children’s across Western Washington, operating for nearly 53 years at multiple locations on the island. The boutiques offer various donated antiques, vintage collections and current brand names, according to the shop’s website. It also has books, houseware, jewelry, collectibles, limited furniture, games, puzzles, electronics, tools, pots, plants, etc.
All net proceeds benefit the hospital.
“In the last four years, even though our store is not the largest, we have donated back more than any other store to the hospital,” Denis said, adding last year it was $254,000.
As Denis navigates this whirlwind of 2020, she is appreciative of her staff and 50 volunteers who have helped through the pandemic and the move.
“The volunteers really run the store,” she said. “The amount of community ownership in this store is phenomenal. So many people on the island have had children, grandchildren, or themselves who were treated at Children’s, and they’re so grateful.
“They just want to give back,” Denis continues. “I’m still flabbergasted about how many volunteers and customers came out to help with the move and unpacking and setting up. It was quite a mind-blowing experience…They work hard; they don’t just come here and chat.”