When Raven’s Nest Gallery re-opened last Friday night, gallery cruisers stepped into a newly designed, somewhat smaller gallery that in some ways felt more spacious. A bright turquoise wall displayed the limited edition glicee art prints of Tlingit master carver and artist Israel Shotridge. Another wall showed smaller reproduction prints, and a window display held select apparel. Gone were the many shelves of gift items leaving more room to present the Shotridge Collection, which now will be the primary focus of the gallery.
The change reflects a shift in Raven’s Nest’s business model from gift shop to craft gallery, with a greater emphasis given to online retail and wholesale of the collection. Owner Sue Shotridge said business has been evolving since the Nest was first housed in the Old Fuller Store, before it relocated next to the pharmacy and then to its current spot.
“We are in our fourth year here,” Sue said, “and we’ve seen business change a lot with more and more people shopping online. It is hard to do retail on Vashon — sales are unpredictable — it’s only strong for half the year. Fortunately, retail sales are only a small part of what we do.”
Shotridge has been marketing the collection for the past 28 years through wholesale and on Etsy since 2010. Last fall, she lauinched a new website, shotridge.com, for the collection’s 13 product lines of prints, carvings, jewelry, key chains, acrylic and drum ornaments, magnets and decals, art cards, travel tumblers, cell phone cases, blanket throws and more.
While Raven’s Nest will remain both a gallery for the fine prints and a brand store for the collection, its reduction in size makes room for the new direction of the business.
“It is still a charming little gallery, but we needed more space for online and for framing the prints,” Shotridge said. “It was challenging to decide what to take out and what to keep, but the main focus is on Israel’s designs.”
Shotridge said they will continue to hold First Friday openings to occasionally exhibit artists such as Preston Singletary and Marvin Oliver and new work by Israel. She will also schedule pop-up shows throughout the year.
In the meantime, Raven’s Nest will be selling all of its discontinued inventory from the children’s section, apparel and products made overseas.
“I’m eliminating them,” Shotridge said. “They are great and affordable, but we are upping the quality of our products, moving away from the trinkets of a gift shop.”
And while the smaller items will make way for the more curated Shotridge Collection, one thing will remain — the ravens.
“We are keeping the ravens in our Raven’s Nest,” said Shotridge, adding with a laugh, “because we love our ravens.”