The massive floods of this past winter surprised no one on the Russian River, but The Barlow, Sebastopol’s relatively new lifestyle-and-shopping compound, was caught off guard. Massive damage to stores and business led to disputes over floodgate policies with the Barlow owners, eventually resulting in closures of such prominent business as the restaurant Zazu and Tamarind, the stylish boutique on the edge of the property, that has since capitalized on its second location in Healdsburg.
Some businesses weathered the storm while others arrived in the Barlow after the floods. One such new business is Rust, a clothing store that relocated to the retail zone in July. Featuring the signature Nor-Cal mix of breezy dresses, straw hats and graphic tees, the boutique, owned by Alice Briggs, infuses a light-hearted, feminine vibe into the area’s upscale mix of businesses.
Across the street, the recently opened Scout West County is a larger, more lucrative reincarnation of Kitty Hawk Gallery, a store and gallery that operated in downtown Sebastopol until a year ago. Grace and Oliver Estrada, the husband and wife duo behind the business, opened their boutique in June, taking over a large space previously occupied by a furniture gallery.
“We feel as though the Barlow has become a destination more recently,” says Grace Estrada. “We’ve noticed large groups and families from far and wide coming to spend the day to eat, shop, drink and explore this area.”
Estrada ambutuiously calls her boutique ” the new modern general store. We now sell women’s clothing, men’s clothing, furniture, home accessories, jewelry and beyond.” The store’s tagline, “a few good things” is purposefully vague—anything and everything for the home and wardrobe, as long as it’s tasteful.
As for the tough winter, Estrada says “an honest statement is that overall, it has been extremely challenging after the flood. We are trying to stay strong and remain optimistic, but it is difficult because the foot traffic we had previously has not yet returned. Many assume because we did not have actual water damage we are fine, but the reality is our business is struggling immensely and we hope customers from afar will return.”
Another newcomer adding to Sebastopol’s fashion scene is Indigo Denim Bar. The store opened nine months ago in downtown Sebastopol after relocating from Garberville shortly before the floods hit. Bignon was not directly affected by the flooding because of her Main Street location.
The shop offers a collection of jeans, as the name suggests, by brands including Sam Edelman and Etica Denim, alongside accessories, tops and shoes.
“I was drawn to the area by the wonderful small-town feel and confident that the success the Barlow was having was revitalizing Sebastopol,” says owner Annie Bignon. “My soul is in a historic space, so I sought out a period building with soul, which you will see reflected in my boutique. I’m a juxtaposition between between classic historical and modern contemporary.”