35th + Butter is the product of a modern-day love story, and the vibrance behind the store and the brand shows it. Located in Walla Walla, Washington, the store opened just a few months ago and is already a fixture in the community.
Breathless Paper Co. cards were lucky enough to be picked up by 35th + Butter, after owners Ben and Mary stumbled upon us at a trade show. We love that Breathless Paper now has friends in Walla Walla, and we're so excited to tell you the story of 35th + Butter.
Breathless Paper Co. (BPC): Clearly there's an awesome story behind 35th + Butter. Tell me a little bit about it.
Ben: Early on in our dating, Mary mentioned she wanted to have a shop someday and I was like, "no way! I want to have a shop someday too!" So the shop was an idea for a while, but when Mary hurt her back and was taking a break from work for a while, we realized that we had the perfect opportunity to follow that dream.
BPC: Did either of you ever envision owning a shop like 35th + Butter?
Ben: For me, it was a little different. I don't consider myself very "creative." If you put something on one side of the fireplace then you have to put something on the other side of the fireplace. That's how I think. I'm very social and I'm good at paperwork and organization and the backend stuff. If I had a store by myself all my merchandise would be right beside each other. Mary's strengths are creative and she makes the store look the way it does. I always wanted a store but I never knew what would be in the store. I remodel homes in my spare time and from that we decided that we should have a home goods store.
BPC: What's your shop "philosophy?"
Ben: We wanted to make sure [our merchandise] is not something that's already in the town. We don't want to step on other retailers' toes and we want to give our shoppers something new to look at. People said we'd have to buy things we didn't like, but we don't do that; we want to like what's in our store.
Mary: Slogans are cheesy, but if we had one it would be "accessories for life." Our store merchandise is about making things beautiful. We like interesting and unique finds for the home. We went to four different markets to pick our merchandise. With the card lines, we were very picky. We chose Breathless because it made us laugh.
BPC: Tell me a little about where you guys are located, in Walla Walla.
Ben: Walla Walla, Washington. It's a town of 25,000 people in the Southeast corner of Washington. It's backed up against a small mountain range, and any rain clouds that make it over dump in Walla Walla. It's a small town with really amazing restaurants. We've also had the number one community college in the nation for two years in row. You're hard pressed to find a small town with as many amenities.
Mary: We're number two to Napa Valley in terms of wineries. We have 130 wineries.
BPC: What was it like starting a business? Any advice for anyone trying to do the same?
Mary: My parents have started a lot of businesses. Ben has his masters in business, I have my masters in medicine, so we had our ducks in a row. We also did a lot of local research. I could see it in Ben and I've always known it about myself that I needed to have my own business one day because of my work ethic. We just went out and did it.
Ben: In terms of words of wisdom, we've only been open 8 weeks at this point. It's so new that we haven't even made all of our opening mistakes yet. My advice would be to know your strengths and plans as much as you can. There are a million ways to make this happen, and if you really want it, you can make it happen.
Mary: If you want it bad enough the money will come. If it's something you love to do, then it's just about putting in the hours.
BPC: How did you come across Breathless Paper Company? What drew you to their products?
Ben: Just walking through the market. The cards made us laugh, and we like to laugh. Life in general is tough. There's enough stresses in life so we want people to come in and laugh. It's one of the joys in running a store.
Mary: We also like that Breathless' cards are simple, but eye-catching.
BPC: Is there any card or other Breathless product that's your favorite? What's your bestseller?
Mary: The number one seller is "You're Forking Awesome." People also love the "T.U.D. Totally Unnecessary Drink" card.
BPC: What do you see as the future of the store and the 35th + Butter brand?
Mary: We worked with a marketing firm to develop the brand. We've put a lot of love into the store design and the local guys that have done the design did a great job. Someone even asked us if it was chain! In the future, our goal is to open 3 to 5 stores. We hope to hire amazing people that can help us move on and open another store in a couple years, and if we can figure out how to run a few stores then we will.
35th + Butter may be young, but their brand philosophy and love of good design will take them far. We love being a tiny part of their store and we really love that our cards bring joy to Ben and Mary, as well as customers. If you're in Washington, pay them a visit!