Monday, August 11, 2008
Her Dream Will "Flourish" in This Tiny Space
“Could this be the world’s smallest store?” I asked Carol Pruitt, at the threshold of her shop. She’d just welcomed me in, but my sense of delight made me pause to absorb the atmosphere. “It feels like I’m a little girl, back in my playhouse.”
This petite woman, with her sparkling eyes and a smile as charming as the space, knew it was a compliment. In one second an understanding connected us. Carol saw that I too, appreciate the magic of all things miniature. Whether it would make the Guinness Book of World Records or not, she didn’t know. But she agreed that although you can run a business on a laptop, when it comes to a real brick-and-mortar enterprise (which this literally is) it must be a contender for “Smallest Store Ever”. It measures 5’9” x 11’6”.
“Flourish” is the name of this exceptionally little boutique. You will find it in the southwest corner of the old brick building on Proctor and 27th, in Tacoma, the building that houses Bill Evans’ landmark Pacific Northwest Shop. It’s tucked in behind the trees along 27th, right next to the corner door that goes upstairs. At a glance the charming multi-paned window and shingle sign will make you think of an Irish pub. So many times I had peeked in through the glass, but Flourish is only open on Saturdays, for now.
Finally I stood among the treasures I’d longed to see up close. Cheerful light from the old-fashioned window fell across her displays of gorgeous jewelry, gifts, and “necessities” as she calls them: the little decorative items that give our homes a special charm and express our taste. Looking around, I could tell a lot about Carol Pruitt‘s sense of style, by seeing what she loves. Cast iron wall hangers in bird designs are strewn with handmade jewelry and more. Miniature artwork, even scaled down pillows, garden décor, and countless other bits of adornment, are artfully arranged on the walls and surfaces.
It’s obvious that Carol is one who appreciates the little things in life, as much as she appreciates life itself. She’s had some rough times. During a family vacation with her husband and four children, of middle school and high school age, he suddenly and unexpectedly died. Her loving partner and the life they’d known, was gone. Tragedy can destroy a person, but as a mother Carol had to go on. She eventually realized that on her own, she needed to find a way to not only survive, but to “flourish”.
“The name has a double meaning.” she explained to me. “When we wear jewelry it’s kind of a ‘flourish’ on our body, and the word is also an expression of that need I had.”
Carol’s background laid the foundation for a dream. She has a degree in graphic design from the University of Washington, and an eye for beauty. Jewelry her daughter had found during a trip to Italy inspired the artist within, and before long she was collecting beads and creating one-of-a-kind pieces which she first sold from a booth at the Proctor Arts Fest. That was about five years ago. But all that time Carol kept walking by that intriguing space in the brick building and dreaming of having her own shop.
There is a real power in focusing on your dreams. Whatever we visualize, seriously concentrate on, and infuse thoughts of with energy, will be manifested in our lives. It helped that her philosophy is one of living in a state of gratitude, exploration, and discovery, of having a real appreciation of life. Carol’s ideas set the future in motion.
The space she envisioned as a shop had been used for a fish broker’s office for awhile, and had also been storage for the Pacific Northwest Shop. But Carol had a vision, and she went into Bill’s store and asked them to please let her know if the space EVER became available. The mysteries of the Universe being what they are, it wasn’t long before she got a call and her dream of a shop called “Flourish” began to take shape. Everything began to work in her favor. Friends have been generous and supportive and all kinds of good things have come her way. She’s attracted a lot of attention and started taking consignments, featuring local artists and offering something for everyone. For all of this, Carol feels gratitude everyday.
On the Saturday morning when I finally got to visit Flourish, the adjacent Proctor Farmers Market on 27th overflowed with shoppers and Carol’s tiny store felt like a natural extension of the scene. Like a magician pulling rabbits from a hat, she’d opened the door and her treasure trove of delights expanded out onto the sidewalk, so much so that I wondered how it had all fit inside. In the winter, the weather won’t permit this luxury, but for now you find yourself drawn from across the street, to her alluring displays.
As business picks up, and I know it will, Carol plans to be open much more than one day a week. But for now, her limited schedule feels to me like it makes the whole thing more rare and precious. It’s like every Saturday is the equivalent to the short season for Copper River Salmon, when you make sure you don’t miss the chance to enjoy a special treat.
Flourish is located at 3901 N. 27th, Tacoma, Washington. If you like to discover unique places and meet people with that are filled with charismatic enthusiasm for life and all the beauty it has to offer, don’t miss this little gem. The old saying, “Two’s company and three is a crowd.” might apply, but remember what this business represents: with the right attitude, and effort, in small but significant ways, we can all learn to flourish.