| Mary McMahan
In celebration of Small Business Saturday, we want to take you back on a journey of how our storefront came to be.
Did you know the first withSimplicity storefront was in an airstream?
(If you don’t know what an airstream is - I never heard of it before working here, so you’re not alone - it's basically a cross between a camper and a trailer).
Talk about grassroots beginnings.
Above: Transporting the Airstream from NC to VA
In 2016, Irina purchased an airstream from a couple in the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina who used the airstream for camping with their grandchildren. They decided it was time to upgrade to bigger better things, purchased an old bus they could renovate into a camper, and then sold their airstream to Irina who dreamed of opening the first withSimplicity storefront.
Now, if you know our design aesthetic, an old airstream would need A LOT of work in order to work as a functioning store front. Irina and her husband, Andre, worked day and night on a complete gut renovation of the airstream- installing counters, new flooring, displays, and more.
Above: Gutting the Airstream + Baby Anthony
Then the question became...where do we park it?
One thing we love about our town of Harrisonburg is how strong the Downtown community is. Irina, with her youngest in a stroller, went to one of our neighbor businesses, Jess’ Diner, to ask if she could park her airstream in their parking lot right on Main Street - not your everyday request.
Because of owner Angeliki’s belief in Irina and her drive to grow a successful business, they said yes.
Here was the result:
Above: Completely renovated airstream on a busy morning!
withSimplicity stayed in the airstream for 1 year before moving to our now permanent storefront a few blocks down.
This wasn’t the end of the road for the airstream, though.
In 2017, the airstream became home to another start-up small business here in Harrisonburg, Bring Your Own LLC, owned by Allie Emerick. Allie was one of our good customers and bought the airstream off Irina when she was looking for a space to start living out her small business dreams. If you’re not familiar with it, Bring Your Own sells zero-waste, plastic-free reusable products to help support a sustainable lifestyle.
Above: Bring your Own takes over the Airstream, offering sustainable solutions for everyday items.
But the journey doesn’t end with Allie.
About a year later, Allie moved into a store front in Harrisonburg’s Agora Market. She sold the airstream to a couple from Scottsdale, Arizona who turned it into an Airbnb.
The airstream spent a few years hosting travelers, but its journey didn’t stop there.
By now, you’re probably asking yourself - “Where is the airstream today?”
Our old “storefront” is now part of a potential development called Roosevelt Land Yacht Club that’s set to be built in 2020. Sounds super fancy, right? This awesome project out in Phoenix is “a new take on affordable artist housing,'' according to the Phoenix New Times. It will be a collection of vintage airstreams that will be integrated into the structure - creating living and work spaces for artists.
*starts planning 2020 trip to Phoenix*
So there you have it, from camper to storefront, to Airbnb, to micro-housing for artists, our old storefront is still on its journey - creating spaces for more artisans to make products they are passionate about.