By Joseph Riverson
Amidst good cheer and a hearty laugh on a sunny summer afternoon, Beka Atwood, owner, and proprietor of “The Shoppe Seahurst” shared her background, inspiration for the store, and other very exciting piques that makes hers one of the most-loved stores in the Downtown Burien’s Small Business Scene. “I started four years ago, went on vacation with my best friend, and came back and told my husband I had written a business plan,” Atwood said with laughter as she stood in the warm, welcoming, and embracing ambiance of “The Shoppe.”
Located in the heart of downtown Burien at 903 SW 152nd St., Burien, WA 98166, “The Shoppe Seahurst” is an eclectically elegant boutique staple for all things “Home.” With unique and hard-to-come-by locally and nationally -sourced items for home décor, this is a go-to gift shop favorite of local neighbors and the greater Seattle area at large.
A former “Miss Burien Pageant” winner, Beka had a successful corporate career with interior spaces design, curating, building, and managing enterprise-scale corporate events for large corporations such as Intel, Facebook, Tesla, and eBay, to name a few. “I managed the whole west coast,” Atwood said.
Her love for design started from an early age when she realized she had the gift early on; “I started decorating the Christmas Tree at 4,” Atwood said, her mom giving her full reign to decorate the house. “ Probably during my childhood, I redecorated my bedroom about eight times. I had a full-on mural that I was determined I would have in my bedroom at 8. I hand-dyed pillows for my bedroom in high school,” Beka added.
Not surprisingly, Beka has a rich artistic and business heritage. “Both my parents owned their businesses. My family’s very creative. My mom’s a jeweler, my dad did the metal design, my aunt does interior tile, my grandmother has always had real estate properties, and we always were fixing houses and flipping houses,” Beka revealed. “So, it kind of weirdly came naturally, and it was always a joke because I always ended up doing the interior space,” she added.
This love of interior design and her love for people led to her fulfilling her lifelong dream of owning a shop like “The Shoppe Seahurst.”
This weekend, on Friday, August 5, from 3 pm-8 pm, and on Saturday, August 6, 2022, from 11 am-3 pm, Beka and “The Shoppe” will be celebrating four years of operation.
This is remarkable and significant because, four years ago, before starting “The Shoppe,” Ms. Atwood was busy in her corporate career, which saw her traveling a lot. “I was tired of traveling. I was gone three weeks out of the month. I managed the entire west coast; I knew that that was not sustainable, and it was not something I wanted to do,” Atwood explained. This revelation led to that trip with her best friend, which led to the creation of the business plan with which she returned and presented to her husband, Anthony.
“I told him what I wanted to do and exactly where I wanted to do it, and he jokingly said, ‘You have a year, and if it doesn’t work out, you have to do something else,” Beka mentioned.
With this support, Atwood set out to survey the area, the neighborhood, and the traffic and to gauge if this was something that would be well received. “I sat outside the store because I knew it was empty; I was here at 7 in the morning and ten at night. I sat here on Tuesdays and Wednesdays just to see the traffic. Is this something the town would actually take on? Is it something that was needed?” Atwood revealed.
With this successful research, the store was opened in August 2018.
“We had our first year-and-a-half just to feel like we were really comfortable, and we knew what we were doing; then Covid hit! I’m so grateful for this neighborhood and community! Everyone was super, super supportive, and continues to be,” Beka added with a thankful resonance.
When the Gem asked how “The Shoppe Seahurst” fared during the Covid Era and how they were impacted, Atwood mentioned, “Initially the shutdown was terrifying because I like talking to people and seeing their faces and having the conversations of why they’re buying what they’re buying and what they’re doing; to know that wasn’t an option was really hard.”
As a small business owner, Atwood had to be creative and adapt to the new reality. Drawing from her lifelong creative experience, talent, and corporate and business background, she came up with ingenious strategies that saw “The Shoppe” continue to flourish through that season until they reopened their doors and have continued to grow and blossom since then.
“We pivoted and made custom gift boxes that we showcased on our social media. I’d buy in small quantities, for example, twenty items of something, so when it’s gone, it’s gone. We would make these different gift boxes, and when someone would buy them via our social media, that was it. No one would get the same gift,” Beka explained.
Also, understanding the predicament that everyone was in via being on lockdown, they took an empathetic approach to help their customers. “It was right at the Easter and Mother’s Day time, so I delivered within a fifteen-mile radius of the store. If you lived within that radius, I delivered to your house,” Beka added. “I was happy to bring a little bit of joy to people’s lives because there were still birthdays, anniversaries, and other celebrations, so I was able to bring a little bit of happiness and joy to them,” she mentioned. “During this period, “The Shoppe” found a void and filled it,” Beka agreed.
Her business acuity, love for people, and empathetic nature saw “The Shoppe” employ some strategic mechanisms to continue to serve the community and other business owners when they opened back up during the Covid era. “The whole point of the store is to be able to touch, feel, and smell things, using those to make a purchasing decision as it applies to each customer’s taste and needs.” People didn’t really feel like they could do that during that period, so in addition to following the safety and preventive protocols, Atwood took the extra step of ensuring their clients and customers were comfortable and safe. “We bought an oxygen machine that cleaned the oxygen in the air and tried to do everything to make it as safe as we could for our customers,” Atwood described.
Atwood is very appreciative of the community and how they rallied together and helped each other.
“I can speak for Old Burien, and I can speak incredibly highly of Burien. We all promote each other all the time. We always try and support each other as much as we can. We all understand that we can all work together to build. We partner with other businesses; we promote each other on social media,” Atwood said approvingly.
“I think the customers can see that. As for me, I want the store to be more than just selling things; I want to support and partner with others to promote community and give back; THAT is what community is,” Atwood added.
“The Shoppe Seahurst” has a wide range of carefully curated and sourced décor gift items you would not necessarily find in the major supermarkets and chain brands. This gives their customers a personable non-mass-produced selection of quality items that emanates that feeling of individuality.
“I try and do as much small business-women owned and local products as I can, and then if it gives back to the community, that is perfect. For example, with some candles, we have a line out of California that gives back to animal shelters,” Beka added. Her focus on buying in smaller quantities also helps give that exclusivity to her products.
“I get a big joy out of buying because it’s the hunt, and I don’t want this place to be the same as everyone and everywhere else; I try to not buy the same as everyone else. I also take a lot of influence from Europe. I love European design; clean, natural, and aesthetic kind of comes with me,” Beka expounded.
A majority of her products are U.S. based; “that also was beneficial, and I did not really understand how beneficial that was, going through covid, with the shipping logistics. When people could not get anything, I was already established with local people that had resources that they could still get in the U.S. They could stay in business. As such, we were still able to get products, and we still had items in our store; we were still able to support the small companies that were trying to survive,” Beka added. “We try to do Washington first, but the U.S. a lot of the time. A lot of influence from New York, Maine, the East Coast, still keeping it coastal in a clean and comfortable line that still feels like the Northwest as well,” Beka mentioned.
What becomes quite evident, and what you glean from speaking with Atwood, is how experienced, knowledgeable, and enthusiastically passionate she is, with a steady hand on the pulse of what her customers like. At “The Shoppe Seahurst,” you will find a collection of items that can fit into any interior décor, style, and feel.
From the realtor looking to stage a home, the homeowner looking to add to or revamp their living room or bathroom, the college student or recent graduate who is newly moved into an apartment or condo, or to the gentleman looking for a birthday gift, an anniversary/celebratory gift, or a sentimental gift, there’s something for everyone.
“I buy what I love and what I know others would love, and it’s been successful. I think if you pour love into it, it fills me up, and it’s going to fill up someone else,” Atwood says of her success.
Walking through the store, you get a sense of great taste and expertly curated items that fit a wide range of design appetites.
“I value what the store looks like,” Atwood revealed. “If I’m not going to put it in my house, I’m not going to put it in your house! I want it to be aesthetically pleasing,” added Beka.
At “The Shoppe Seahurst,” you are met with, and get the satisfied, confident feeling that you have had an expert designer curate items that meet your specific tastes and needs, putting them all in one place for you to peruse and make your selection.
“I want anyone and everyone to feel comfortable here. I am grateful for the people that walk in here because I get to do what I love. It does not feel like work. My customers are friends,” Beka concluded.
If you are in the Burien area, make sure to visit “The Shoppe Seahurst” and say “hi” to Beka Atwood.
It has been four years already, and as they celebrate what has been accomplished thus far, Beka and Anthony are excited about what the future holds. Here’s to many more years ahead for “The Shoppe Seahurst!”