Four new businesses join Kent’s downtown


Bernard Maina of Kent passes by a display of dolls and die-cast collectible cars at Treasures

Bernard Maina of Kent passes by a display of dolls and die-cast collectible cars at Treasures

Though the retail environment may not seem to be in the best shape right now, in the past few months four new businesses have opened their doors on Meeker Street in downtown Kent.

Cut-The-Corner Frame Shop & Fine Art Gallery, Shabra Gallery, Treasures and Cheryl’s Unique Boutique are all trying to make a go of it.

Cheryl Wright opened Cheryl’s Unique Boutique on Dec. 27 because, she said, the time was right.

“I think this is a great time to open a store like mine,” she said. “If I keep my prices low, people are going to want to shop in my shop.”

The Unique Boutique includes a little of everything, from men’s and women’s clothing to tools to lattes to consignment art and jewelry, as well as an indoor greenhouse where Wright is growing fresh vegetables and herbs.

“I thought ‘How fun would it be to bring it indoors?’” said Wright, who gardens at home. “I have sunshine in my shop everyday.”

The philosophy is similar at Treasures, where co-owners Sandy Kissel and Linda Rushing decided that after spending time as vendors for other stores, it was time to open their own place.

“A little new, a little used, furniture, antiques,” Kissel said, “A little bit of everything.”

Kissel said Rushing lives in Kent and the pair opted to open in the downtown section of the city to be around similar stores.

The store stocks collectibles, antiques and housewares, but since opening Jan. 30, Kissel said furniture is the top-seller.

“Just since we’ve opened we’ve sold tons of furniture,” she explained.

The store also features Velvet Pig candles, made in Auburn, featuring fun names and scents, like a banana-scented candle called “Monkey Butt.”

Across the street, Dick Stringfellow moved his Cut-The-Corner Frame Shop to Kent in October to lower his overhead, as well as work closer to his wife, Judy, who owns English Cottage Collection next door.

With nearly 30 years in the framing business, Stringfellow said he can put a frame on just about anything, including a hermit crab shell he recently did.

“You name it, we can frame it,” he said. “People can bring in anything they’ve got.”

The store also offers framed art from Asian artists in various mediums and styles.

Further down the street, the Shabra Gallery, run by Shannon Rasor and Brad Caplis, also offers custom framing and fine art, but with a different vibe. The shop has been open about two months and Caplis said the husband-and-wife pair live in Federal Way and had been commuting to Bellevue to work in another shop. After deciding to open their own store, the pair settled on Kent because of its location and because of the “charm” of the downtown core.

“We love this little area,” he said. “This feels like a small town down here.”

While also offering custom framing, the gallery is showing mostly work by Caplis, whose paintings also will be featured in the gallery at the governor’s mansion in Olympia later this year.

Kent Downtown Partnership Executive Director Jacquie Alexander said the new stores show a faith in Kent’s economy.

“It says they certainly believe in the future of downtown Kent,” she said of the new businesses. “We’re really excited about them and the new energy they are bringing to the downtown.”

Alexander said despite the downturn, the timing is right for people interested in opening new shops because there are open store fronts and building owners are more eager to get tenants.

For the owners of the new shops, the time was certainly right and all said they are looking forward to making downtown Kent their home for the foreseeable future.

“We’re going to be here a long time,” said Kissel.

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