On a recent night at the shiny new Headquarters at Seaport District, a couple excitedly (perhaps drunkenly) burst into Simply Local, the merchant marketplace that opened in mid-November. After walking up and down every aisle of this new mecca for things made right here, the man said, "We'll take one of everything!"
With more than 50,000 products from 62 vendors, he's going to need a bigger shopping bag.
It's really that easy to fall in love with everything at Simply Local, where about 85 percent of the products are locally made and represent the best and brightest of San Diego's creative workforce. With black-tie-appropriate bowties, bamboo T-shirts, hot sauce, beer paraphernalia, paper goods, aromatherapy pillows, alpaca blankets—need I go on?—there's something for everyone.
The store's aesthetic really brings it all together, thanks to manager and visual merchandiser Sarah Larson, who's made the thousands of items look completely cohesive, right down to the display pieces themselves. The doors that make up the outside of the cash register are salvaged from the police headquarters that remained dormant for decades until 2012, when Terramar Retail Centers began redeveloping the 1939 landmark. The cubbies Larson uses for her own display of candles and glassware used to be part of the jail cells. Bamboo "Stay Classy" (à la Anchorman) T-shirts hang from an armoire that Larson and owner Brian Beevers scored from his family's 100-year-old farm up in Denair in central California. Individually, the stuff is just that: old, random. Here, everything belongs.
The result is something of a farmers market—there's something new to peruse, examine or linger in front of every few feet or so. That's definitely not an accident; Beevers is an entrepreneur who's been running the UTC, Golden Hill and Point Loma farmers markets for several years. "We wanted to have a place where the vendors didn't have to man the booth," Beevers says. All they need to do is pay a licensing fee, and Simply Local takes care of the rest.
Beevers adds that Simply Local's sales are already "above projections," and they're even planning to expand with more locations and an online store that will eventually sell every single item you see in the shop.
Here are a few merchant highlights:
What they make: Named after the family dog, this is one hell of a dapper line of bowties and men's accessories.
Fun fact: The business cards have step-by-step instructions on how to properly tie your newly acquired fabulous neckwear.
What they make: Show-stopping handmade jewelry. Choose from designs made with sterling silver, rhodium, 24-carat gold and semi-precious stones from around the world.
Fun fact: As if runway-worthy jewelry weren't enough, they also carry a line of alpaca throws, scarves and blankets. Have you ever napped under an alpaca blanket? If not, you're not doing it right.
What they make: Craft-beer cupcakes. Yup. Thankfully, a craft-beer aficionado had the good sense to start putting beer into her dessert.
Fun fact: You can only buy the mix at Simply Local, but head to the North Park or La Mesa farmers markets if you want 'em fresh.
Eco Design Studio
What they make: Leather-bound goods such as necklaces and notebooks.
Fun fact: Legend has it, a man walked into the shop looking for a Valentine's Day gift for his wife. He left with a mini-book necklace. Did he gift-wrap it and call it a day? No. On every single page of that mini-book, he wrote all the reasons why he loved his wife. Sir, whomever you are, you win.
What they make: Handmade pillows, towels, tote bags and clothing printed with eco-friendly, water-based ink. I had my eye on a few things to buy, but, ultimately, I went for practicality and left with a beautifully printed peacock kitchen towel ($12) that's 100-percent cotton and recycled from flour sacks.
Fun fact: They take custom orders, so send in your artwork or ideas.