A Brick-and-Mortar Tour of Luxury Home Retail in Bend
by Cassidy Mantor
From Miracle on 34th Street to Breakfast at Tiffany’s, retail has always been about the story. When done right, experiential retail is transformative. Louis Vuitton’s spring 2023 campaign for its Yayoi Kusama collection demonstrated this most profoundly. The brand placed hyper-realistic robot versions of the artist in its windows. Videos all over social media show people gathering around and watching “Kusama” paint her signature polka dots on the store windows. It is disruptive, as in it makes you look, and is inspirational – exactly what retail should be.
All retail has the opportunity to create an experiential consumer journey from first impression through conversion, growth, and retention. However, one does not have to be a global brand to tell a premium story at retail. The brands in this feature highlight authentic stories that resonate in Central Oregon. Read on to visit the following local retailers and learn about their unique stories:
Merryweather, Thoughtfully curated home, gift, and design located in Bend
Rescued Living, Pacific Northwestern home and Nordic-influenced lifestyle goods in Springfield
“We don’t want their homes to feel or look like pages in a catalog. We build on the foundational pieces and ask interactive questions like, ‘How can we make this sofa more interesting?’, ‘What colors are you drawn to?’, or ‘How can we use things you already have in new ways?’”
–Jessica Merryweather Pollard, Owner, Merryweather
LIVING IN ART:
Thoughtfully Curated Home Decor from Merryweather
“My goal for the store is to create a beautiful environment that engages your senses,” says store owner Jessica Merryweather Pollard. The tactile experience in her store inspires customers to consider new ways to decorate their homes. The store is so welcoming that people don’t want to leave. “We’ve had dozens of people – men and women of all ages – say to us, ‘I just want to move in,’” she adds. While they joke that it would be possible since they have a fridge and a microwave in the shop, the sentiment speaks to Jessica’s ability to create a warm and welcoming environment.
At Merryweather, “luxury” is a positive shopping experience that is not defined by certain products or brands. “Everything goes into that experience, from warm and helpful customer service, carefully listening to the customer, and providing expert design choices. It’s all about the experience of working with the customer rather than just selling products,” says Jessica.
Merryweather is a destination for home décor, gifts, accessories, and design consultation services. Jessica’s influences stem from growing up in an 1810 farmhouse on a horse farm in Ohio and working in art galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is inspired by color and texture, both in nature and manmade, and is drawn to an eclectic mix of antique, classic, and modern lines. After renovating a space in the Historic Box Factory in 2020, Merryweather opened during Oregon’s mask mandate that year. Now in its third year of business, Merryweather also provides in-store and at-home design consultation services by appointment.
Entering Merryweather is an experiential journey of tactile moments and visual stimulation. For example, the front table is currently dressed in a woven wool fabric from Pakistan that is shown as a tablecloth. Jessica notes that it can also be used as a thin rug or wall hanging. Textiles from South Africa are folded next to pottery from Portugal. A framed limited-edition reprint of a paper collage from a Colorado artist, Dolan Geiman, sits on the table adjacent to a hand-carved owl from a husband and wife from the East Coast. Australian banksia pods provide an earthy but energetic pop of color and texture. “Pulling together pieces from all over the world is interesting and fun,” Jessica says.
When asked about the challenges of brick-and-mortar in today’s world of e-commerce, Jessica points out that it’s the retailer’s job to stay unique and differentiate from the prevailing trends. “I’m not a trendy person, but I’m not stale either,” she laughs. “A lot of contemporary design seems to fall into the ‘bowl of oatmeal’ syndrome where everything is bland and neutral. We like to mix it up and have fun. Our goal is to make our clients’ spaces feel like their own. We don’t want their homes to feel or look like pages in a catalog. We build on the foundational pieces and ask interactive questions like, ‘How can we make this sofa more interesting?’, ‘What colors are you drawn to?’, or ‘How can we use things you already have in new ways?’”
Zulu baskets are some of Merryweather’s most popular accessories. The baskets are signed by each artist and include a description of the meaning behind each pattern. “They are versatile accessories that create interesting textures on a bookcase, or you can hang them on a wall, or put a plant in them. They look amazing in bungalows by the river, cabins in the woods, and even in ultra-modern homes in new neighborhoods,” Jessica explains.
Merryweather offers in-store and at-home design services (by appointment) to help customers decorate their homes. They also offer a try-before-you-buy program. “Our customers may not know exactly what they want, so we give them the option to take a few items home and try them before making a purchasing decision. This helps confirm scale, lighting, and colors in context—which is sometimes hard to visualize while in a store environment,” adds Jessica.
Jessica shares a story of how she worked with a husband and wife who recently moved to Bend. They wanted to accessorize a space that already included a sectional sofa and rug. “We outfitted it with pillows, throws, wire baskets, and art on the walls, and a dried floral and pheasant feather arrangement that added texture to the room,” she recalls. “The space transformed into one described as warm, interesting, and comfortable.”
The relationship Jessica and her team have with their customers drives Merryweather’s business. “The store changes as our customers’ needs change,” she says. Jessica delights in the “treasure hunt” of finding new and eclectic pieces. It’s easy to see why customers get so excited when they find a perfect item in the store, and often these are things they have not seen curated together before.
UNIQUE STATEMENT PIECES
Sometimes adding a “statement piece” can make all the difference. In one area of the store, an elegant Coral and Tusk pillow with feathers is placed on a black and white sofa with texture and color that are visually enticing. Pillows and vases pick up the oranges and greens in the feathers to create a cohesive design.
During her opening weekend, Jessica recalls a woman from Seattle who came into the store and browsed for a bit. She approached Jessica with tears in her eyes. Jessica asked if she was okay and the woman replied, “Thank you so much for feeding my soul. I cannot tell you what your store has done for me. It’s such a gift.” Jessica thought to herself, ‘That is what Merryweather is about. It’s about people coming into the store and having a unique, perhaps unexpected, positive experience.’ It’s also about supporting artists and sharing their work with everyone.
Jessica has lived in Bend for almost two decades. While it’s now home, she still has family in New Mexico, which will always be a special place for her. “Between the landscape and the cultures, people there are living in art. I’ve tried to create that here in Merryweather,” she says. What makes Merryweather so special is the intentionality in Jessica’s selections and her talent for pulling together a uniquely cohesive statement. “We work hard to keep it positive in here,” Jessica shares. “We channel a spiritual light, and our customers feel that. My heart sings when people say, ‘Wow, this is hands-down my new favorite store. I want to bring my friends or family here.’”
“Between the landscape and the cultures, people there are living in art. I’ve tried to create that here in Merryweather. We work hard to keep it positive in here. We channel a spiritual light, and our customers feel that. My heart sings when people say, ‘Wow, this is hands-down my new favorite store. I want to bring my friends or family here.’”
–Jessica Merryweather Pollard, Owner, Merryweather
Collectors of the Northwestern Experience
Casey Boyd’s most treasured piece was a 16-foot-long wooden horse that she rescued from a field more than a decade ago. It was in pieces when she first saw it. The mane was what caught her eye. She learned that it had been an old marquis sign for Thuro-Bilt horse trailers. It was hand-carved out of multiple beams and was the figurehead that greeted customers at a former location. “It needs a hero! Someone needs to rescue it!” Casey thought, and so she did. She held on to it for 10 years and only when her store recently expanded in its new Central Oregon location did she have room to display it. Within days, a customer scooped it up for her farmhouse in Portland.
The owner of Rescued Living, Casey has an exceptional eye for collecting pieces that celebrate life in the Pacific Northwest. As the business has grown, Rescued Living’s assortment combines pieces like the horse with handmade artisanal works such as paintings, prints, candles, and leather bags. She takes customers’ names for pieces that she’s working on and will reach out to them when she’s ready to sell them – like a 10-foot-long conveyor belt she found in the same field as the horse. “It had a cool roller on one end and a Hobart graphic on the other. I thought it would make a great table, so we added legs cut from large, laminated beams,” Casey shares.
“For me, it’s about having a collected home with things you’ve curated over the years,” Casey explains. “It breaks my heart when people toss pieces because they’re not current. I try hard with our style to inspire people to work with those things they have and love even if they’re not on trend. Doing something with these old, often industrial pieces is a chance to add visual interest and create a more meaningful space.”
“For me, it’s about having a collected home with things you’ve curated over the years…Doing something with these old, often industrial pieces is a chance to add visual interest and create a more meaningful space.”
–Casey Boyd, Owner, Rescued Living
Rescued & Repurposed
Casey attributes much of her creativity to her dad, a potter with an artistic mind. He also worked on cars, which is perhaps what first inspired her love for the industrial aesthetic. When Casey was in college, she took art classes and was also a wildland firefighter. As her responsibilities changed with a growing family, she and her husband decided it was an optimal time for her to follow her passion for home decor and design. She began selling small, collected goods at local markets and was repurposing objects before DIY became a more mainstream movement.
“We’ve found old newspaper boxes and overhauled them into small, unique liquor cabinets,” Casey explains of her work. Unlike shops that focus on styling influenced by social media trends, Casey hopes to inspire people to understand how different pieces can work together. “Everything on social media looks really good and it’s what everyone says you should have, but it’s sad to me when people discard their old things and find themselves sitting in a space that doesn’t speak to their journey,” she says. When people come to Rescued Living and talk about their spaces with Casey, they become excited to try new combinations of genres, such as industrial items with a western nod. In addition to traditional pieces, Rescued Living has an alpine perspective that connects to its history in Central Oregon.
“Everything with our business has been led by what inspires me,” Casey shares. “The store is always filled and focused on natural elements and textiles, such as natural wood statement pieces and sagebrush ceiling accents. Whenever I can, I incorporate furs, wood, and anything that combines environmental textures with industrial pieces and ones from Northwest makers.”
“I grew up in Central Oregon, so I gravitate to the Nordic mountain vibe. When the opportunity came along to open a store here in such a great space, we knew we had to take it. We’re reestablishing roots in Central Oregon and will retire here. It’s where I’m happy, whether snowmobiling or floating the river. What I love about the outdoors is that it’s the only place where I can truly get offline and be with my family. We put our dog on an innertube in the summer and I love the snow in the winter. The Northwest has it all, from the coastal shores to incredible mountain ranges, to my favorite, the high desert in Central Oregon.”
–Casey Boyd, Owner, Rescued Living
Get on the Bus
After doing markets for some time, Rescued Living was ready to expand. True to their mission, Casey found a 40-foot bus in a wrecking yard that became her rolling shop. Her husband was rebuilding a ‘65 Jeep Wagoneer for their daughter’s first car and they needed six matching seatbelts. Their friend who owned the yard suggested they look in a bus on the lot. “He forgot that buses didn’t have seatbelts, but when we got in it, I realized there was so much space,” Casey recalls. “I knew it was a crazy idea because nobody was using vintage trailers for anything other than food trucks at the time, but I thought it would work for the markets.” Casey was still working out how to take the experience from her pop-up market tent to the bus when her husband told her he’d already bought it for her. Originally operating as Rescued and Repurposed, Casey’s Rescued business hit the road. She’d set up displays at home and developed a following as “the bus lady.” It was unique and grew so much that it became evident that they needed to expand.
Casey created a stress test for herself that would serve as the final checklist before opening a brick-and-mortar store: she had to work the entire holiday season at a larger home goods chain. If she came out of that still wanting to help people design their homes, she was ready. The experience was a success and Rescued Living opened its first store in Springfield in 2016. For years, people would come in and after looking around they’d ask, “Did you used to have the bus?”
The Road to Sisters
Casey not only survived working that Christmas season in retail, she also came away with an important lesson about the power of retail. “I realized when people walked in, they could be in a bad mood, but a great store could transform their whole day,” she says. That philosophy means that Rescued Living is an uplifting environment and one where customers can find meaningful items that align with the Northwestern lifestyle.
A decade later, Rescued Living has now grown into its new location in Sisters in the Town Square Building. They have triple the space – why Casey was able to pull the wooden horse out of their warehouse and bring it into the shop – and their neighboring store is another family business, Landmark Fine Goods.
“I grew up in Central Oregon, so I gravitate to the Nordic mountain vibe,” Casey shares. “When the opportunity came along to open a store here in such a great space, we knew we had to take it. We’re reestablishing roots in Central Oregon and will retire here. It’s where I’m happy, whether snowmobiling or floating the river. What I love about the outdoors is that it’s the only place where I can truly get offline and be with my family. We put our dog on an innertube in the summer and I love the snow in the winter. The Northwest has it all, from the coastal shores to incredible mountain ranges, to my favorite, the high desert in Central Oregon. I love this lifestyle and the fluidity of designing a mountain home that honors our environment.”