By Laurelle Walsh
Purple Sage … Methow Style is a “fun and funky” collection of handmade art, crafts, textiles, jewelry and decorative pieces in a bright storefront on the boardwalk in Winthrop.
Kyrie and Kathleen Jardin opened the doors of their new Riverside Avenue store on July 9, only one week before the Carlton Complex wildfires began raging and casting a pall over the valley at the height of its normally busy tourist season. The Jardins are still playing catch up.
“I haven’t minded that people didn’t know we were open,” said Kathleen, who spent much of the last two months dealing with the fire’s impact on the couple’s primary business, Central Reservations, a lodging service that handles most of the guest house, cabin and inn rentals in the valley.
When the power went out and evacuation orders were issued — one day before thousands of festival-goers were to descend upon the valley for the Winthrop Rhythm and Blues Festival — the Jardins were forced to relocate the business across the mountains. They began dealing with cancellations and issuing refunds that totaled over $100,000 before they were through.
But once they were able to return to Winthrop, Jardin re-opened the Purple Sage and derived strength from the art and inspirational messages printed on windowpanes hanging from the store’s ceiling, she said. Most inspiring to her is the message that hangs above the counter: “Don’t worry, everything’s going to be amazing.”
“The written word inspires me,” said Jardin. “It brings me vim and vigor.”
The Purple Sage features the work of many artists whom Jardin knew throughout her career as executive director of the Northwest Art Alliance, producer of the Best of the Northwest art shows, and owner of a gallery on Whidbey Island.
“This is art made by hands you can shake,” said Jardin, who has hand-lettered cards posted next to each artist’s work, describing who they are and how their art is made. “People want to buy art made by real people with a story.”
Select pieces in the large front window attract the attention of passers by, and a glass-paned door opens onto an inviting entry framed with meaningful quotations. A collection of handmade quilts drapes over a loveseat, and one-of-a-kind furniture and lamps by local artists Jim Gaston, Thome George and Barry Stromberger are featured front and center.
A stroll through the store reveals a variety of eclectic items ranging from cast concrete stepping stones to ceramics, greeting cards, hand-painted tables, thumb pianos, and cozy bedroom slippers made from all-recycled materials.
Also on display are Jardin’s own hand-painted silk scarves and garments, and color-coordinated enamel jewelry, which she has sold at art shows throughout the Northwest and nationwide for the past 26 years.
The Jardins encourage visitors to wander down the alley between the Purple Sage and the Arrowleaf Bistro to view more outdoor art and sit overlooking the river, where they hope the town’s riverwalk trail will pass through someday. “We envision an outdoor courtyard for art here. Our aspirations are big, but our pocket book is not so big,” Jardin said.
Store hours roughly correspond to the 9 a.m.-4 p.m. business hours of Central Reservations, whose office adjoins the Purple Sage through open glass doors. Presently, the store is open on weekends as well, but those hours are variable, depending on staffing, Jardin said.
Purple Sage … Methow Style is located at 245 Riverside Ave. in Winthrop. Call 996-2148 for more information.