The Bureau of Historical Investigation, located on Holly Street in downtown Bellingham, serves as both retail shop and home base for one of Bellingham’s more unusual businesses: The Good Time Girls. Here, you can browse through “local goods made by humans,” as co-owner Sara Holodnick described it, or meet up for one of The Good Time Girls’ various historical walking tours, including the Sin and Gin Tour, which focuses on the brothels and saloons that once proliferated in both downtown and Fairhaven.
On my latest visit, I was pleased to see a fun mix of handmade things that appealed to my eye, nose and heart, as well as my sense of whimsey. Let me explain: quirky antiquey things shared space with natural body products, which bumped up against delightful paintings on cedar called Love Notes to the Pacific Northwest, and then there were the delicately scented teacup candles, followed by ribbon bookmarks, and classic novels translated into one-word-per-page condensed versions and illustrated with felted characters. Delights for all the senses!
Everything is made by about 20 – 30 vendors, nearly all from Whatcom County, but occasionally from farther-flung, but still local-ish locations, like Seattle. Sara and her business partner, Marissa McGrath, love helping locals and tourists choose meaningful keepsakes, gifts and souvenirs infused with a real sense of place by the people who live and create here in Bellingham. They have personal relationships with each of their vendors, and are happy to share the stories behind each piece, who the artist is and why they do what they do.
Browsing along, I discovered books of poetry, mystery and history written by local authors, as well as gorgeous jewelry and actual living magnets, which I immediately coveted for myself. Practical housewares and sedum-filled terrariums would add a perfectly homey touch to any abode.
The Bureau also shares their vendors’ knowledge, with fun workshops on practical skills that cater to your creative side. You can learn how to felt or weave, make a collage for your wall or a fascinator for your head.
Tour Info and a Fun Fact
The Good Time Girls are gearing up for their high tour season, so buy your tickets early. They often sell out, because everyone wants to learn about Bellingham’s colorful history on a tour led by a knowledgeable and appropriately-dressed (think corsets and bustiers) guide. If you do miss out, Sara filled me in on an insider tip: you can always book a private tour for your own little group, year round! Look for more details on the Sin and Gin tour in an upcoming story on my cocktail blog.
The Bureau of Historical Investigation
217 W. Holly St., Bellingham, WA 98225