Wondering where to buy the ultimate Bellingham souvenir, or a designer handbag without a staggering price tag? Let us introduce you to some our favorite Fairhaven destinations.
Posh & Pretty
Kimberly Hoctor is a veteran in the consignment business, a woman with a sharp eye for quality and a knack for knowing which pieces are timeless and will appeal to her shoppers. She relocated her women’s consignment store, Posh Upscale Resale, from Coupeville to Fairhaven in 2016 and now occupies an 1,100-square-foot, well-lit, upscale, beautifully decorated store in McKenzie Alley.
If you love high-end labels like Gucci, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Hermes, Prada and more, this is the place to go. Hoctor is very choosy and only accepts apparel that is clean, freshly laundered and pressed, and her clothes look and smell as good as new. She sells through social media channels in addition to her brick-and-mortar store, and at any one time you’ll find 8,000+ items for sale, ranging from purses to evening gowns, shoes to skirts and everything in between.
“I find people with designer items generally take excellent care of their stuff,” she reflects, as she lovingly touches the soft leather of a Gucci handbag. “And we only take genuine items, the best of the best, no knockoffs.”
Hoctor and her team do personal styling by appointment, where they will curate selections based on a shopper’s taste, size and budget and help her pick out new items for her wardrobe. She offers private parties for eight or more guests, an exclusive shopping party where friends can shop together and get style advice in private. And she does ‘closet cleanouts’ for those with 24+ items they want to sell, where her team comes to a client’s home, goes through their wardrobe and takes the items that can be sold in the store. Sellers get 40% of the sales price.
Hoctor examines each item for collar or armpit stains, unpleasant smells or items that look tired and no longer usable. Unless it passes her stringest ‘best of the best’ test, she won’t sell it. “There’s a big difference between a consignment store and a thrift store,” she explains. You can see the difference the moment you walk into Posh Upscale, in details like hardwood floors, beautiful display furniture, a spacious change room surrounded by mirrors, chandeliers suspended from the ceiling and the meticulous organization of the store.
“There’s no longer a taboo about buying second-hand,” she notes. “Over the last few years we’ve noticed a discernible shift towards more sustainable buying, and in fact the second-hand industry is the fastest growing industry in the U.S.”
If you’re looking for the perfect ‘made in Bellingham’ souvenir, Bay to Baker is unquestionably your destination. Almost 80% of the store is comprised of items made locally by passionate, skilled ’hamsters.
Some items are resourceful, such as the large selection of maps and books directing buyers to the best hikes and swim holes in the county. Others are more fanciful, like reusable glass drinking straws, stickers, flags and a broad selection of cards containing the etchings of local artists like Beth Roberson, Jody Bergsma and Martin Oliver.
Look out for the popular fermented sauces by Housa, the hydrascape stickers of Mount Baker by Gretchen Leggitt and the wild array of t-shirts with fantastically fun designs. There are tees with tribal tattoo designs by Dave Garcia, tie dyed tees by Plum Wild Designs and a broad selection of t-shirts that proudly declare the word Bellingham.
Bay to Baker also operates an informal tourist information center in one corner of the store, where a massive map of the county covers an entire wall and all of Fairhaven’s restaurants are represented in the menu selection. The formal tourist center can be found in Village Books if you’re interested in resources about the greater Bellingham and Whatcom County area.
You can’t throw a stone in Fairhaven without hitting at least one restaurant. One of these much loved eateries is Evolve Chocolate & Café, on the second floor of Village Books, where Christie and Shannon Fox deliver a fabulous selection of chocolates, pastries and savory items.
The talented pair menues innovative daily breakfasts, lunches and dinners, as well as $30 three-course meals Thursday through Sunday nights. My choice items at Evolve are the Chai tea, a buttery, sweet cuppa inspired by Shannon’s visit to India a few years ago, and the irresistible salads, served with creamy Whatcom blue cheese.
From behind the glass counter, the exquisite chocolate truffles were calling my name, while the ginger cake, a tall concoction surrounded by chocolate frosting, looked like a veritable bite of heaven. With great views of the bay, local art on the walls and the tantalizing closeness of great literature at Village Books, there’s lots of reasons to linger here.
But do take a jaunt around Paper Dreams before exiting the building. This longtime Fairhaven institution is perfect for some blissfully relaxed browsing. The store is filled with fun knickknacks for the home, such as pretty dishes, table runners, breadboards, wind chimes and oven gloves. Closer to the back of the store you’ll find its namesake: tons of paper. There are exquisite sheets of giftwrap, notebooks, calendars, gift cards and beautifully decorated writing paper. If you love the feeling of pen on quality paper you could easily get lost in here for hours.
Paper Dreams has such an assortment of products, though, that even if you’re not a fan of writing you’ll find lots of entertainment. Lunch boxes, loose leaf teas, gourmet fudge, soaps, Washington state souvenirs, toys, snuggly hats and slippers.
The gorgeous hardwood floors and original glass doors give shoppers a sense of this grand building’s age, something that adds to the charm of a long, unrushed browse and the thrill of finding a unique treasure at Paper Dreams.