Sharptack Dry Goods joins coalition of small downtown businesses

The new retail space in downtown Bellingham unites local artists to offer original artwork, vintage and hand-made items.

The new retail space in downtown Bellingham unites local artists to offer original artwork, vintage and hand-made items.

Sharptack Dry Goods, located downtown at 1201 Cornwall Ave, was founded by Heather Malcolm and artists Karie Jane Von Allmen and Jess Bonin. Sharptack featured its soft opening on March 6.

With new floors and a new paint job courtesy of the Sharptack team, the 200 square foot space was transformed from the business it used to house, the Stone Fox Gift Shop.

The Sharptack storefront is working on regular hours intending to roll them out in April but for now, it will start with a schedule geared toward Friday’s and the weekend.

“When I think of all the businesses in downtown Bellingham it’s all about one or a few people excited about doing something cool while staying true to their voice,” Malcolm said.

The shop highlights two local artists from both Bellingham and Skagit Valley. Von Allmen who lives in Edison and Bonin who lives in Bellingham both create a variety of work including illustration, painting, embroidery and sculpture.

Some of the current art for sale in the space is a collaboration between Bonin’s illustrations and Von Allmen’s stitch work.

The pieces are from a set titled ‘The advantages of being a women artist’ and highlight 10 prominent and influential female figures such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Melissa Jefferson (Lizzo) and Emelia Earhart.

“What ended up being a challenge was picking 10 because I could make you a list of 10 million,” Von Allmen said. “It’s also topical given it was international women’s day this month and the election coming up, and as a women-run business we are here to lift each other up.”

The work carries additional meaning in that Bonin’s mother was an illustrator and Von Allmen’s grandmother taught her to embroider. Using those mediums felt oddly powerful, Bonin said.

Challenges opening the shop have been limited but juggling other multiple responsibilities has proven to be a trick. “The hardest part has been balancing everything, especially all that Karie Jane and Jessica have going on right now,” Malcolm said.

Currently, Von Allmen is preparing a body of work for an art gallery at the Smith Valley Gallery in Edison and Bonin is continuing her work as a tattoo artist while contributing pieces to the store.

“We’re really inspired by shopping in urban environments so we are hoping to bring a little bit more of that to Bellingham,” Bonin said.

Looking to the future the shop plans to manufacture its own product line and build a strong online presence for selling products.

“Right now everything is really handmade or hand-picked and that just kind of limits what you can do,” Malcolm said. “Ultimately we would like to create products that make their art accessible to a wider group of people or people not in the Bellingham area.”

The art community in Whatcom and Skagit County has been great and so supportive, Malcolm said. “People always say don’t go into business with your friends but honestly the experience has been so much fun,” Malcolm said.


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