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TALKING BUSINESS

Talking Business: First and Elm Boutique latest venture for Kalama realtor sisters

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First and Elm Boutique owners

Taryn Nelson, left, and Emory Storedahl pose for a photo outside First and Elm Boutique in downtown Kalama. The sisters and RE/MAX Results Real Estate co-owners purchased the boutique earlier this year. 

KALAMA — When it looked like Kalama’s only brick-and-mortar boutique could close its doors, a local business duo stepped in and ended up with an unexpected business venture.

In early August, First and Elm Boutique reopened under new owners, Taryn Nelson and Emory Storedahl, co-owners of RE/MAX Results Real Estate.

“It’s been a fun adventure for us because it is something new,” Nelson said.

The sisters bought the building in May with no intentions of taking over the clothing store, which first opened in September 2021, Nelson said. After learning the previous owner, Charleen O’Neil, couldn’t stay open for personal reasons, they bought the boutique too, Nelson said.

“Emory and I both value small business and business in Kalama and really didn’t want to see one close,” she said.

First and Elm Boutique accessories

Hair clips and bracelets at First and Elm Boutique in Kalama. 

The sisters bought O’Neil’s inventory then closed the shop for a few weeks to paint, redecorate and order more inventory in their own style to add to the mix. First and Elm reopened Aug. 3.

Nelson said picking out new items for the store is “almost like we’re shopping for ourselves in bulk.” The boutique is stocked with clothing and accessories the sisters find unique and interesting, as well as some bath and body items like soap, candles and bath salts, Storedahl said.

“We hope to have something for everyone in here,” she said.

Boutique shopping has become more popular over the last few years, compared to shopping at a department store, Nelson said. More people are visiting local stores for more unique items in smaller quantities, she said.

As the only clothing store in Kalama, the boutique adds to the downtown shopping options for residents and visitors, Storedahl said.

“Kalama is a nice town to visit and a diverse shopping district adds to that appeal,” she said.

In the first two weeks since reopening, the store has seen a pretty even mix of locals and tourists, Nelson said. Adding to the inventory every week will help keep it fresh, she said.

“We’re having fun with it,” Nelson said. “It’s been great to visit with people as they come in.”

First and Elm Boutique storefront

First and Elm Boutique storefront.

Taking over the store has gone smoothly, and O’Neil has helped the sisters connect with wholesale companies, shared supplies and equipment. Nelson and Storedahl hired Josie Gallaher to work in the shop most days. Gallaher has “made it easy” because she loves working at the store and is excited about it, Nelson said.

Even though the store has only been reopened for two weeks, they’ve gotten good feedback and return customers, Nelson said.

“We appreciate being part of the community and having a business people enjoy to come to,” she said. “It’s going to be a fun project for us.”

Talking Business is a series featuring local new or expanded businesses and prints every Tuesday.

Contact Daily News reporter Katie Fairbanks at 360-577-2532 or Katherine.Fairbanks@lee.net for possible inclusion in the series.

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