We’ve all heard the catchy and trendy saying “shop local” at least a million times. It’s become the mantra for people who choose to be intentional with their shopping dollars. Buying from a local retailer helps your neighbor by keeping more money in the local economy than, say, buying from online behemoth Amazon. Some people are even taking it a step further by buying fair trade items, or those that are actually produced locally. Many stores in downtown Corvallis are featuring more of these types of items. One in particular, Irenes’ Boutique, has made it their mission to provide as many of them as possible.
Located in the historic Corvallis Hotel building at 201 SW 2nd Street, the vibe inside of Irenes’ feels like a scene straight out of the show Portlandia. The eclectic store décor is composed of funky wooden antique furniture and shabby chic pieces. The hip inventory is artfully arranged around the store and the large glass windows fill the space with ample natural light. Although it is mainly a women’s clothing and jewelry boutique, this cozy shop also offers a wide selection of unique gift items such as candles, cards, and soaps.
Store owner Rebecca Robinson said, “I love to support small and independent designers as much as possible. Most products in the store are made in the U.S. with a concentration of Oregon-made products.”
Robinson went on to say that it brings her joy to know who makes the items she sells and that she enjoys passing on that joy to her customers.
“The more local items I bring in, the more my customers recognize this and support me for it,” she said.
One handmade line that Irenes’ sells is Oh Little Rabbit. Founded in 2010 by Jason and Cara Hibbs, Oh Little Rabbit specializes in illustration and printmaking on a wide variety of eco-friendly housewares and apparel. All of the illustrations are hand-drawn and hand-printed in the Hibbs’ studio. The quality of their wares is great, and the designs are true to the PNW hipster aesthetic.
Liz Grant Designs is another local line you can find at Irenes’. Grant is a Corvallis resident who is well-known for her hand-hammered sterling jewelry. Lately, she has been doing her own silver smith work and occasionally uses recycled sterling silver. I must admit that I am a loyal follower of Grant’s jewelry line, and almost always have one of her creations on me at any given time. Her selection of turquoise jewelry at Irenes’ right now is absolutely dreamy!
If modern and tribal textiles are your thing (think Pendleton-style designs), then you will love Manos Zapotecas, a fair trade outfit whose products you can also find here. What began as a wild idea to sell Zapotec bags globally—from a village where most of the women had never even left their home state in Mexico—has now grown into a fair trade fashion brand run by a team of five women in the U.S. that supports over 50 artisan weavers in Oaxaca. The weavers incorporate traditional handwoven tribal designs with modern styles using bold color combinations. The finished products are beautiful and functional handbags.
Now that you have a glimpse into some of the local and fair trade companies and products that Irenes’ Boutique has to offer, stop by and let Robinson know that you appreciate her efforts in supporting local artisans and fair trade companies. And, oh yeah: shop local.
By Jennifer Moreland