1984: Owner and visionary Alta Tingle opens a small shop in Berkeley, California, focusing on the life of a gardener- indoor and out- embracing a back-to-the-land movement of farm to table. What starts with the land and the farmer, ends at the table where community and family gather. As a former garden designer, lecturer on landscape design, avid gardener, and photographer, Tingle began curating an assortment of her favorite accessories and furnishings that spoke to this philosophy.
Fast forward to 2013: The Gardener has expanded to a larger storefront in Berkeley's popular shopping district, 4th Street. In addition to this expansion, two new shops have opened: A brick and mortar in Healdsburg, California and a storefront in the historic Ferry Building, located near the Financial District of San Francisco. Tingle's keen eye has earned avid followers and local loyalists who anticipate the shops' seasonal assortment of ceramic bowls, oversized wool throws, teak furniture and organic, one-of-a-kind gifts.
Above: General Manager Kathi Demarest and buyer Mary Gale, in front of the Berkeley shop. Below: A tree of market baskets, all shapes and colors, eagerly await a trip to the farmer's market.
Q: What are your three favorite things about owning a local business?
Kathi: Having the opportunity to curate a mix of unique accessories and furnishings for indoors and out guided by the influences of the season. 2. Engaging with three different communities. 3. Selling beautiful functional items is fun, but the best reward is working with a dynamic group of passionate folks in a place where people grow and thrive.
Q: The neighborhoods that The Gardener resides: What are they like?
Kathi: Fourth Street is a stretch of small businesses mixed with chain stores surrounded by industrial buildings inhabited by artists, designers and various eclectic businesses. Healdsburg is nestled in the wine country with a large garden surrounding the store (barn). The San Francisco Ferry Building is a hustling, bustling metropolitan food and shopping marketplace.
Q: What are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
Kathi: The greatest challenge to all small brick and mortar retailers is the immediacy of the internet and how to be fresh and different in a world where everything is easily accessible. We attempt to overcome this by staying true to our original mission and knowing who we are versus the rest.
Top image: Teak table with a burnt finish to give a petrified appearance supports palms, tableware, and Coyuchi's Aspen Weave pillow in Charcoal. Above image: Ceramic bowls, perfectly un-circular, stack together to form kitchenware that is as attractive as is useful. Below: Fresh floral cuts come from the Healdsburg shop on a weekly basis, bring elements of the garden into each display.
Q: Where do you see the store in five years?
Kathi: We do not have plans to expand, with the exception of potentially adding an online store or expanding opportunities in our Healdsburg garden property.
Q: What is your favorite Coyuchi product?
Mary Gale and Kathi: (In unison) Coyuchi nightshirts and pajamas!
Above: Local kitchen, INNA jam makes their small batch preserves in Emeryville (less than 5 miles away from the shop). These spreads come in incredible flavors such as Polka Raspberry and Meyer Lemon. Fun fact: The organic fruit is grown within 150 miles of their kitchen.
Q: What does the term intentional lifestyle mean to you?
Kathi: Our intentional lifestyle is to be true to natural materials, authenticity and recognize that even the most avid gardener lives indoors.