The showroom of the newly opened Patagonia Trading Post is a colorful array of new glass and metal cases showing off jewelry, handmade bags, and mixed media pieces. Prints and watercolors and even acrylic paintings adorned with beadwork are featured on the walls, and greeting cards by various artists are displayed near the cash register. In the back is the expanded Book Nook, with several overstuffed chairs for relaxing. It features works by local authors, as well as other books and gifts related to local and regional history, birding, and hiking.
The new owners, Anne and Andy Anderson, did not arrive in Patagonia planning to own and operate the Patagonia Trading Post, formerly Creative Spirits Gallery, on McKeown Avenue. They say it was kismet that brought them to Santa Cruz County, and that ending up as the owners of the shop was further confirmation that they were meant to be Patagonians.
“There are so many events that led to us from Vermont to Patagonia, and then to owning the shop”, Anne explained. First, it took a somewhat impulsive decision to pull up stakes and return to Arizona. They had met in Tucson when Andy wandered through Anne’s open apartment door and introduced himself. She was in the state for schooling. He had lived in Tucson since his family moved there in the 1970s.
“After knowing each other only a few months, we got married and moved to Vermont, where we were happy to live near Anne’s family for many years. Recently, we started to ask ourselves where we wanted to be when it was time to retire,” Andy said. “On a whim I applied for and got a position at the VA Hospital in Tucson, and we decided to go for it. We’ve always believed you should go all in with your plans, so we made the transition quickly. A new job, selling our house in Vermont, rediscovering Patagonia and buying a house here – it all happened in about eight weeks.”
Andy commuted to Tucson (he now works as a Contract Specialist for the Army Network Command at Fort Huachuca) and Anne was looking for an opportunity to work and get involved in the community. When Creative Spirits Gallery owners David and Susan Hetrick decided to sell and move on, Andy Wood and Audrey and Brandon Doles, who own the Stradling Warehouse, purchased the business and asked Anne to manage it. The Andersons proposed another idea – to buy the business and run it themselves. “We knew we wanted to be able to design and run the shop as we wished, so again, we went all in,” said Andy.
The couple each brought their own business background to the task. Anne has worked in retail ever since her first job scooping Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in her home state of Vermont. Her most recent position was as wholesale buyer for one of the largest plant nurseries in that state. Andy has a degree in Business Administration and has worked as a government contract buyer for most of his career, after serving in active duty in the US Army.
Andy said, “We redesigned the store and re-invented the way artwork is acquired and marketed, as well as our business arrangement with the artists. We’ve had a wonderful time meeting new artists, some of whom have been referred by the great artists we already work with. Others just wandered in here as customers, like the couple who both retired from careers as architects. She designs copper and brass jewelry and he paints elegant frescoes on wooden panels.”
Anne explained their approach to choosing new wares for the store. “We look to the customers to guide us. They have inspired us to include many new artists and some branded items such as t-shirts and shot glasses. Each one displays one of four new Patagonia logos designed for us by local graphic designer Greg Whitcoe.”
The Andersons hope to create an experience for locals and visitors that will highlight local and regional artists and make customers feel welcome to linger. One plan they are excited about is the addition of a store entrance directly into the Gathering Grounds. They, along with Gathering Grounds owners Audrey and Brandon Doles, hope future customers will be able to grab a latte and wander over to settle into a comfortable chair next door at the Trading Post. See you there!