By Ryan Wynne
Bison Bookbinding moved out of its North State Street location and into its new space at 205 E. Chestnut St. just in time to open for the Dec. 3 Downtown Art Walk.
Owners Kevin Nelson and Carly James, who are also husband and wife, are dubbing their new “multipurpose boutique” The Mill, and Nelson said it’s already attracting a lot of visitors looking for holiday gifts.
The recent Art Walk was the best the six-year-old business has taken part in, he said.
“People came and they bought stuff; that’s what separated it from the others,” Nelson said.
That’s in part because the Art Walk also marked opening day for the third annual Holiday Handmade Bazaar, which will be open at The Mill through Christmas Eve.
Usually sales pick up closer to Christmas, Nelson said, but this year they started off with a bang. He attributed the uptick in sales to increased foot traffic at the new location.
“It couldn’t be better really,” he said.
The 1,000-square-foot space is located next to Cap Hansen’s Tavern and near the Bellingham Farmers Market, Boundary Bay Brewery and La Fiamma Wood Fire Pizza, all of which draw pedestrians to the area, Nelson said.
The front third of the suite will be used for retail and the back two thirds as studio space, where Bison Bookbinding will make its now signature paper products. Nelson and James use vintage printing presses to combine modern graphic design with old-style printing.
Bison Bookbinding creations, such as journals and cards, will be sold in the retail section along with those from about two dozen local artists and artisans.
Not only is foot traffic better at the new space, the rent is lower, too. Nelson said they wanted to move from their State Street location because the old space was underutilized and they were facing a steep rent increase. The Chestnut Street location is in the right price range and it’s the right size ― it can fit their large, old presses, but it’s not too big.
When the holiday bazaar ends, The Mill will stay open. Nelson said he and James are still figuring out exactly what The Mill will be once the bazaar ends. They will continue selling their own products and those of other artists there, but they have yet to nail down logistical decisions, such as hours.
Until then, The Mill will be open Thursday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
To reach The Mill, call (360) 746-8574. For information related to graphic design or printing, call (360) 734-048 or visit www.bisonbookbinding.com.