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Room to Breathe: Expanding the Garden Gift Shop

From the Archives: This post was originally featured in the March 2017 edition of The Garden Path magazine.

The new Cultural Village unveiled April 2, 2017 / Photo by Bruce Forster

One of the features you will notice right away when you enter the Cultural Village is the space it offers. The additional space gives our guests room to breathe, helping us not only accommodate rapid visitor growth, but most importantly—it will better immerse you in traditional Japanese arts and culture.

The new Cultural Village will house many exciting features. One worth noting is our new Gift Shop. As our members know, there is little to no space in the current Gift Shop. That will change dramatically when the gates open to the Cultural Village.

Our previous Gift Shop was 170 sq. ft.

The new Gift Shop will be housed on the northeast corner of the Cultural Village right next to the Calvin and Mayho Tanabe Gallery. It will be 645 square feet; much more room if you consider our current Gift Shop is 170 square feet.

Our new expanded Gift Shop / Photo by Jonathan Ley

Our new Garden Gift Shop will offer a greater selection of items from Japan allowing visitors to continue their exploration of Japanese garden arts at home. Finding just the right products to offer our guests is no easy task.

In anticipation of the expanded retail space, Ashley McQuade, the Garden’s Director of Retail took a journey to Japan. She discovered beautiful, authentic Japanese items and brought them back to share with you.

Ashley’s journey began two years ago, on a bicycle in Kyoto. With the help of a local Japanese artist representative, she met with several artists but faced unforeseen challenges. Many artists had reservations about selling their products in the United States and were understandably worried about damage to their items in the shipment process. Those who were open to selling their items to the Garden were unable to provide the large quantities and quick turnaround required to accommodate the Garden’s volume of visitors.

Visit our Online Gift Shop

Browse our Gift Shop online to find unique Japanese gifts and treasures.

Despite challenges during her first trip to Japan, Ashley continued her search. Last year, she worked with Michael Walcott of Hokusei North America an import/export company specializing in introducing handcrafted Portland product to Japan. Yurie Wata (of Hokusei International) was an invaluable resource accompanying Ashley to the Tokyo Gift Show. Wata interpreted and helped Ashley place, consolidate, pay for, and ship orders. This incredible partnership has blossomed and has opened many doors to new vendors with unique products.

Because of the relationship with Hokusei, the Garden is now able to better source and receive a more unique selection of Japanese goods previously not available in the United States. In the end, face to face conversations and personal relationships helped facilitate a strong partnership. This is great news for our visitors, because you will now be able to choose from more meaningful and unique merchandise.