Last year, when rumors swirled about 16 Hands Gallery not renewing its downtown lease, owner Jill Damon was quick to assuage fears that it might be closing after thirty-six years in business. “We’re just moving,” she assured customers.
“I was ready for a change,” said Damon over the Labor Day weekend, as she and her staff climbed up and down ladders, adjusting lights over jewelry displays as they prepared for a post-holiday soft opening in the store’s new space on the second floor of Kerrytown Market & Shops.
“It’s all about the context,” says Damon. “Our lease was up, and it was a combination of the economy, what people were buying–not as much furniture for re-models–and our rent wasn’t in sync with those changes.” The Kerrytown spot opened up when Hollander’s decided to downsize its second floor, keeping its kitchen supplies but eliminating home furnishings, thereby freeing up more than 2,000 square feet. “This space is way more affordable,” says Damon. She’s also making changes to her inventory, with fewer home furnishings than she carried on Main. “Instead, we’ll have more wearables, more jewelry, fashion accessories, scarves, hats, clothing, purses, and more items for men,” she says. Now that she’s next door to the Farmers’ Market, she’s also adding more garden art and tools.
What hasn’t changed is her concept for the shop: “My philosophy is that just because something is functional doesn’t mean it can’t be beautifully designed and responsibly made,” Damon says. She’s always offered pieces made from recycled materials or those made according to sustainable environmental practices, but “I’m placing a greater emphasis on that now,” she says, including a new line of men’s water- and tear-resistant wallets made from recycled Tyvek.
She’ll continue to stock favorites like Ayala Bar’s metal, stone, and glass jewelry and Tessoro jewelry that uses salvaged birch bark and other organic materials. “I look for items that enrich our everyday lives,” says Damon. The store’s grand opening on October 9 will offer refreshments, artist appearances, and giveaways, including vintage 16 Hands T-shirts from the 1980s.
16 Hands Gallery, 401 N. 4th Ave. (Kerrytown Market & Shops). 761-1110. Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m-6 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 16handsgallery.com