I was making my usual rounds on Monday afternoon, baby asleep in the back seat, checking progress on the neighborhood- new houses going up, old houses coming down, checking for cars in the Happy All Cafe parking lot, etc... I have been stalking Pie In The Sky Pie Company as well. Last week they had a "Now Hiring" sign up for a couple days, then it was gone. I have seen a lot of work happening, even over the weekend. I am thrilled to have another breakfast and casual lunch option in the Heights.
Anyway, as I cruised down 19th I was actually trying to catch a glimpse of the sign for the new coffee shop about to go in a couple doors down from Shade. I could see an 8.5x11 piece of paper hanging in the window but I was going the wrong way to really get close (I'll probably do that tomorrow). As I turned around for a different view, something else caught my eye.
On the little standalone house that used to sell Persian style rugs and lamps and such was a new sign: OCCASIONS.
Well, a coffee shop coming soon is one thing. A new shop that wasn't open when I drove by a week before is entirely another. I pulled up out front, grabbed the baby from his carseat and headed in. It could not be more different inside. Everything is so bright and eye catching. I headed toward the back of store where I saw jewelry galore and was greeted with "We have coffee if you'd like some."
A case of chocolates is all any store needs to get me in the door.
Barbara Guerra-Grainey may be familiar to some of you if you shop 19th Street regularly. For the last couple years Barbara has been operating a booth out of Grace Hart and Company, the miscellany store where vendors can set up booths to sell pretty much anything. The success of the Occasions booth lead Barbara to start a catalog of gift items and eventually she knew it was time to expand out of her booth space and in to a retail location of her own.
Barbara lives in Montrose, so I was curious about why she chose the Heights for her store. Barbara said "I really spent a lot of time searching for the right location for retail space. After doing primary demographic research, I'd drive around to different areas and walk around, ask questions, and just get a feel for each area. When I visited 19th Street for that purpose, I got a really good feeling right away. I loved the diversity of the businesses on the street and the friendliness of the existing merchants. I knew that this was the place for my store." She also took note of the pedestrian traffic on 19th.
Barbara has developed a lot of love for the Heights. During her time at Grace Hart, she was always impressed by how the neighborhood really turned out for events like White Linen Night, Holiday on 19th and 1st saturday events. She "noticed right away that the community is really involved in this area and supports local merchants. I love that, and thought that I really wanted to continue my involvement in this area." When she saw the "For Lease" sign go up at 301 19th, she called right away. Incidentally, it's a day she'll never forget because she signed her lease, but it was also a day when it was snowing in Houston!
Men's novelty gifts, which are often overlooked in the girlie shops of the Heights
Barbara looks forward to being more involved in the neighborhood now that she has her own storefront. She wants and needs neighborhood support to succeed and hopes it will be "a synergistic relationship, realizing that she does "need the community's support to succeed, but I also think it's important to give back to the community- both from a financial perspective and also by becoming actively involved." She has a couple different ways she plans to make this happen:
The first is a donation/fundraiser program. Any school, charity, or organization can participate. A participating organization schedules a week during which the organization's members/family/friends shop at the store. They will mention they are "shopping for 'X' organization" when they checkout. After the week is up, sales related to the organization are tallied and the store will issue a check for 20% of those sales to the organization.
The second is "Mom's Night Out at Occasions". Barbara looks forward to this being a great opportunity for area moms to take a break and socialize with a glass of wine and good music at the store! Attendees will receive 20% off their total purchase. The first "Mom's Night Out at Occasions" is planned for Tuesday, March 16th. If they have enough participation, Barbara hopes to make it a monthly event.
Bucking the "Closed Mondays" trend of our little town, Occasions will be open 7 days a week. Great news for peoplw who always find themselves buying a gift at the.very.last.minute. While it's always the most fun to stop in for a visit, you can also check out Occasions' website. If you have any questions about the fundraising programs or Mom's Night Out, email Barbara firstname.lastname@example.org