For Suzanne Arkless and Sondra Anderson, an empty space is something that calls them to be creative.
So, when the mother-daughter pair decided that Seabeck needed something new and they ran across an empty storefront, they put their creative juices to work.
The building, at 15398 Seabeck Highway NW, is known to the old-timers as the former post office, and it has also been an antique store and a boat repair shop. Now it is a gift shop, an art gallery, a place to get a professional massage and an overnight get-away on Hood Canal.
Located in the building is Anderson’s gift shop, which she appropriately named BeTempted. Next door is her mother’s art gallery, Arkless Contemporary Art, and behind and above the stores is the Water’s Edge, two small apartments that are used for overnight guests who visit Seabeck.
It started with Anderson’s desire to have a gift store.
“I’ve worked in retail since I was young,” Anderson said. “Earlier, I thought I wanted to be a fashion designer. I studied retail management in college and all of that just sort of carried over into this shop.”
Anderson has a degree in business and literature from the University of Oregon and lived for a time in North Carolina and Georgia.
“I missed the Pacific Northwest,” she said. “I missed the rain.”
So she moved back to the Seabeck area where her parents had relocated from Oregon.
The goal she has for her shop is to have items that people can’t find in other gift shops.
“I want to be different,” she said. “And I want to have things that are reasonably priced. I try to think about what kinds of things I would buy for a gift and what I could afford.”
Most popular are scarves, candles, jewelry, journals and purses.
“There’s a bit of everything in here,” she said. “And I hope to add things made by local artists and crafters.”
Most of her inventory she finds at gift shows and through online merchants. There is an area outside the store where she has some locally made garden art and plants. She turns her inventory often and adds things that are seasonal.
Most of her customers are women, but she said “men come to buy for their wives and family members.”
“And we get visitors who are staying across the street at the Seabeck Conference Center that want to take home something that reminds them of Seabeck,” she said.
Once the gift store got underway, mother and daughter realized that the space next door was sitting empty.
“I thought I’d just rent it as an office,” said Arkless. “But a painter who is a friend said it would make a great place for a gallery.”
So she hung some of his paintings and contacted several local artists who wanted to show their pieces.
Also in the gallery is fine jewelry that she and her daughter made. They are both goldsmiths. Arkless has been creating jewelry for more than 35 years and used to travel doing shows.
“People are a little surprised when they come in here,” Arkless said. “They can’t believe we have the quality of art that we do.”
She hosts local artists and has gallery opening nights from time to time. Sometimes the artists will create in the gallery so visitors can watch them paint or throw pottery. She lists what’s showing on her website www.acag-seabeck.com. The gallery is open Friday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment.
So with the storefront space set, the two decided on renovating an apartment downstairs that faces the water, and the apartment that is on the second story above their shops. The two apartments have become the Water’s Edge and are rented on a nightly, weekly or monthly basis to those who want to stay where they can quietly enjoy the views of Hood Canal and the Olympic Mountains.
Each apartment has cable, wireless internet, a fully-equipped kitchen, patio and gas grill and a queen sized bed. One of them has been rented for the summer, while the other is available.
“All the comforts of home,” said Arkless of the apartments, “without all the worries.”
With the gift shop, the art gallery and the apartments up and running, Arkless had another thought.
“The space in the gallery is small, but useful,” she said. “And for some reason I thought about how it was mostly sitting empty during the weekdays.”
That led her to find a massage therapist who sets up her table in the midst of the beautiful artwork and quiet setting and gives massages.
“I had the idea, but then a woman walked in who was interested and the rest is history,” she said.
That woman, Randee Burkle, takes clients Tuesdays through Thursdays by appointment.
“It’s a great place to relax and get a massage,” Arkless said. “You’re surrounded by nature and some of the best artwork in the area.”
Working in Seabeck is a gift, the two women said.
“All the other businesses around us are so supportive,” said Anderson. “It’s a one-of -a-kind community.”
Her mother agrees.
“What we hoped to do is to bring something to Seabeck that would be worth a drive out here,” she said. “We think we’ve done that.”
Find out more about BeTempted at www.betempted.net, or call 360-830-2525.
Arkless Contemporary Art Gallery can be reached at 360-535-4307.
Information about the Water’s Edge can be found at www.watersedge-seabeck.com.
To schedule a massage call Burkle at 360-525-3521.