Monday, July 19, 2010

"Are There Really Six New Stores In Port Gamble This Year?"

That was the first (and I must admit, the only) question in today's mailbag when I got home this evening. The individual had only seen three new ones and assumed I had lost my glasses and was not able to count.
Well all right, in order, in the last year:

At least I think these are in  order. After all, I was not here when John moved his kayak store (Olympic Outdoor Center) to the old fire hall directly across the street from the General Store. I must correct myself. I said "kayak store", but saying  "Olympic Outdoor Center" is just a kayak store, is like saying "Quilted Strait" is just a quilt store (there, I snuck that one in, didn't I). John and one of his able assistants are so busy planning events (races,  cruises, classes, camps, rentals) that the rest of the crew barely has time to sell kayaks and parts to people throughout the world, which they do. Visit them and check out their kayaks, rent one, or repair one. And check out the "Events" section of the Port Gamble web site ( where they contribute nearly monthly to the long list of outdoor activities in the area. Open every day.

In November, if my memory serves me right, Mike and Stephi opened the best BBQ lunch and dinner place this side of the "Welcome to Port Gamble" sign, and actually a lot further than that. It is Mike's Four Star BBQ in the former auto repair building in the middle of town on SR 104, and for that  reason is decorated in automotive "stuff," a small amount of which was donated from the auto parts store I once owned. Mike started his business with a trailer in the Sunday Market, but soon found demand for his food was greater than that. The flavor is to my liking, fairly mild, but a stronger seasoning can be added  with very little extra work. Good food, beer, and wine are all available Wednesday through Sunday.

I think the next store was the re-opening of the Port Gamble General Store last spring, which many would say is the hub of Port Gamble. Any opening now of that store is obviously a "re-opening", since the original opening was in 1916 when they sold clothes more than food. Now they (Kim and Eric) include a sit-down breakfast and lunch menu in their work, and a front section FULL (to overflowing) with candy, cards, and cones (ahhhh, I'm still able to keep up my alliteration) as well as employees able to help you find anything from  a quilt store to a shop owner. The menu, by the way, has been developed by Kim, a vegetarian, but one who willingly serves a meat meal, but flavored with herbs usually saved for a vegetarian meal. What a combination of flavors!!! Upstairs is the ever popular shell museum, which has been there longer than I've been coming here (since 1950), and downstairs is the ever popular museum. Open every day.

Next, on April 20th, was my favorite, Quilted Strait, which I am quite biased about since my wife owns the business and she, the maintenance crew, and I planned and remodeled the facility. From last August when we signed papers committing ourselves to moving her business and ourselves to a new community until April 20th when we opened the doors to the public, we lived between fear and excitement, mostly close to the latter, but never far from the former.

When Kris moved the store she had a fine collection of batiks, flannels, reproductions, and all the kits and classes that go with them. But since that time she has added more classes to a busy schedule, added more backings (extra wide fabric), added cross stitch, added more wool, and added many bolts and displays in a facility I constantly hear is "second to none" in Western Washington, with huge quilts displayed on walls twenty feet off the floor. She even added used quilt books which neither she nor I have seen in a quilt store  before now.  Come and see for yourself. Distance or the flu got you down? Order on line. Open every day.

Beverly Hooks Fine Art Studio  ( and The Artful Ewe II ( may have opened before Quilted Strait, I have to admit. Some of the days are blurs, but I list the two together because they share the same space. Beverly's Romantic Impressionistic work can be seen or ordered at the studio in Port Gamble from Friday to Sunday, or her work can be seen or ordered online at

Heidi opened the Artful Ewe II with weaving looms to rent in the same building as Beverly Hooks, hoping that by allowing potential weavers to rent her machines they might grow in the art and the fiber arts might be a stronger concern. Looms may be rented at The Artful Ewe Two from Friday to Sunday.

I'm sure that Terrapin Farm Stand (photo coming) was next, putting their "circus tent" onto their permanent building later this spring. They gather their harvest from as local a spot as they can find, bring it to their stand on their own truck, and have it ready to be eaten the next morning. This spring, as we all know, has  not been the best for "fresh fruit" to be as  "fresh" as we would like it, but Terrapin Farms on the other  hand will not serve fruits and vegetables that aren't. How they come up with such fresh food so consistently is beyond me, but it is.To mix it up, they also have healthy snack items such as peanuts, smoked fish, smoked cheeses, healthy (and tasty) bagels, but they won't tell me where they come from. Open all week.

We have been filling in the commercial end of the town back and forth from one side to the other. Back we go to near Olympic Sports where Tango Zulu Imports has located, in the "blue building" as it is sometimes called. Owner Tracy had wanted to put an import shop in that location since she had traveled the world, both for pleasure and to find unique items for her store. And once it was available, she grabbed it. One of the truly "unique items" is her attitude toward fair traded goods, which are goods that are registered in such a way that they will provide the producers of the goods with a reasonable profit which gives them an income enough to live on. Too many crafters in the world are cheated out of a fair living, she says, and the fair trade movement provides a way to avoid that. I'm sure the producers of the baskets from throughout the world, the handbags from Nepal, the beeswax earrings from Tibet or the batik clothing from India appreciate that attitude every much as those who shop at Tango Zulu Imports appreciate the craftsmanship they find there. Open all week.

And finally (back across town) is the newest of the new, in the smallest store of its kind (it's worth a visit  just to see the place .... but please don't blink), Second Spring (photo coming). Once a "scale shack" for the loads of logs entering the mill site, the building (and its close surroundings) are now the site for the two industrious owners who showcase their own handcrafted, hand made items of all kinds. On one hanger may be a couple of aprons, on another kids clothes. But I guarantee they will be gone next time you are there and replaced by something new. "Second" does not mean second hand, and "Spring" does not mean open only in the early months of the year. But "Second Spring" together means some of the finest handmade products you will find.

And that should be the "newest of the new" at Port Gamble, joining several shops which have been here quite a bit longer. They would include:

                   The Dauntless Bookstore
                   The Tearoom at Port Gamble
                   Best Friends Antiques
                   Salon and Spa On Gamble Bay
                   Port Gamble Guest Houses
                   Gamble Bay Coffee
Yes, you could make a day of it here. You could make SEVERAL days of it here.


Shirley said...

Been there, seenthem all. Love them all.

Tracy Zhu said...

I know you'll get to us, but I have to say that in addition we have Second Spring with its beautiful locally-made clothing; Tango Zulu Imports with its handcrafted baskets, clothing, soaps, handbags and tons of other stuff from around the world; and great produce at reasonable prices from Terrapin Farms. And Gamble Bay Coffee is pretty new too. So says Tango Zulu's proud owner.