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From Sonoma to the CWE: Meet the proprietors of Provisions St. Louis

Nicki's Central West End Guide Services Shop News  Visitor Assembly Provisions St. Louis Debra and Ross Hunter

Debra and Ross Hunter endured the October 2017 wildfires in northern California wine country, so when Thursday’s snowfall caused a snafu in St. Louis it was a mere inconvenience compared to what they have been through. My impression is that nothing would have prevented them from opening the doors on Friday to their new shop, Provisions St. Louis at 228 N. Euclid. When I stopped in for a preview on Wednesday there were still boxes to unpack and shelves to stock with a wide assortment of gift items, apothecary—men’s and women’s skincare and grooming items, scents, personal and home accessories, and art books.

The couple’s former shop in Sonoma County, Provisions 707 (named after the area code), was not destroyed by the wildfires, but business evaporated when the shop’s customer-base was displaced because of them. It was obvious to these seasoned retailers that it would take years to rebuild their business.

Last March, when a former customer invited them to visit Kansas City where she had moved her graphic design business, they decided to add St. Louis to their itinerary. They enjoyed Kansas City but St. Louis won them over. During their short time here they fell in love with the architecture, the parks, an obvious appreciation for the arts, and the people they met.

When their host at a B&B in U. City suggested they go to Brasserie for dinner, they wandered around the neighborhood afterwards. “This is it,” they said to each other. The Central West End was “so European and appealing.” The Hunters added that they really missed living in a city after once living in San Francisco.

They returned to Sonoma, fixed up their house which they sold right away, and returned to St. Louis where they moved into an apartment on Lindell.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Services Shop News  Visitor Assembly Provisions St. Louis Debra and Ross Hunter

When the Hunters learned that the shop space on Euclid where Fauxgerty had been located (between Insomnia Cookies and Lemon Spalon) was available, they snapped it up. (Fauxgerty’s lease was up, and they are now selling their products online.)

Over the years the Hunters have gotten to know the makers of the products they carry, most of whom are based in the U.S. There were boxes everywhere the day I visited so what I’ve photograph is just a small sampling of what is available today. There is a large selection of wooden game sets and trays, as well as handsome Hook & Albert bags, see photo above. Debra remarked that the shelves looked a little “mancentric” Wednesday, but there was still much merchandise to unpack.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Services Shop News  Visitor Assembly Provisions St. Louis Debra and Ross Hunter

Among the wonderful items that caught my eye were the brightly patterned dog coats and cookie jars, above.  Display cases (not photographed) hold Randolph Engineering eyeglasses from Maine, beautiful Il Bussetto leather goods from Italy, Bexor wallets from Texas, and handsome watches from Timex.

A complete list of merchandise (jewelry by A Blonde and her Bag, for instance) can be found on Provisions St. Louis new website, created by CWE-based Visitor Assembly.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Services Shop News  Visitor Assembly Provisions St. Louis Debra and Ross Hunter

Just a few of the really interesting art books you’ll find at Provisions St. Louis.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Services Shop News  Visitor Assembly Provisions St. Louis Debra and Ross Hunter

A section of the store is devoted to men’s skincare and grooming products.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Services Shop News  Visitor Assembly Provisions St. Louis Debra and Ross Hunter

And small-batch organic skin care products for women that are unique to St. Louis.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Services Shop News  Visitor Assembly Provisions St. Louis Debra and Ross Hunter

In an email message the Hunters added: “Our guiding force is that the shop be an inviting place with great ambience involving music, conversations, a mutually shared experience, and great service, which everyone deserves.”

“Everything we carry here has a story,” Ross said. Perhaps the biggest story comes from the proprietors of Provisions St. Louis themselves. Stop in soon and welcome the Hunters to their new city and this wonderful neighborhood.

Provisions St. Louis, 228 N. Euclid is open every day but Monday from 11 to 7ish. “We don’t know anyone here,” Debra said, “so though we will have regular shop hours, we will probably be here most of the time anyway.”

The Biome School adds modular classrooms at Olive & Taylor

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Services  The Biome School Mackey Mitchell Architects Bill Kent Jr.

The Biome School, a St. Louis City public charter school located in the CWE at 4471 Olive Street, is bursting at the seams and has begun installing modular classrooms on a vacant parcel at the corner of Olive and Taylor to accommodate an expected 220-230 students in academic year 2019.

The school, which opened in August 2015 with 2 Kindergarten and 1 first grade classrooms of 20 students each, has added a grade each year, so that now there are 178 students in grades K to 4.

When completed, the modular classrooms (renderings are shown below) will house 3rd and 4th grade students. They will be joined in August of 2019 by 5th grade students, the final grade in the school’s expansion plans.

According to Founding President and CEO Bill Kent Jr., the temporary classrooms, which are expected to remain in use for up to 7-years, gives them time to develop a long-range master-site plan.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Services  The Biome School Mackey Mitchell Architects Bill Kent Jr.

The Biome, a STEAM school (science, technology, engineering, math, plus art), is committed to serving all children within the City of St. Louis, especially those in low-income areas who lack educational choices.  Charter schools are tuition-free and receive 75% of their funding from the State of Missouri. The remaining funding comes from private donations. State funds cannot be used for facilities. To learn more about how The Biome School spun off from the Youth Learning Center, an after-school tutoring center that opened in 2003, read my original post here.Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Services  The Biome School Mackey Mitchell Architects Bill Kent Jr.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Services  The Biome School Mackey Mitchell Architects Bill Kent Jr.

According to Kent, the proposal for the temporary use of modular classrooms as an interim solution to their growing student population was supported by 18th Ward Alderman Terry Kennedy, 28th Ward Alderman Heather Navarro, and the Central West End Association Planning & Development Committee. The permit application was approved by the City’s Cultural Resources Office and Board of Public Service.

Kent said The Biome School strives to be a good neighbor and is committed to not only maintaining but improving the value and aesthetics of their property. They’ve been pleased to share the empty lot at the corner—which they purchased in December, 2015—with the community, which has used it as a dog park until recently, when site preparation activities commenced.

.Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Services  The Biome School Mackey Mitchell Architects Bill Kent Jr.

Neighbors have complained about the long line of traffic in front of the school during pick up and drop off, which Kent said typically lasts for 20 to 25 minutes twice a day. The new modular classroom structures will allow The Biome to operate two drive lanes on the parking lot (see Mackey Mitchell Architects site plan above), which should reduce the number of cars staging on Olive.

Bill Kent’s greatest hope is that neighbors will join The Biome School in its mission of educating children by volunteering, participating in literacy mornings, and other activities. “Relationship building creates opportunities for collaboration and serves as a springboard for effective problem solving before or when issues arise,” he added.

For questions, contact Bill Kent by email: bkent@thebiomeschool.org

2 dear friends, 2 suggestions for getting out the vote

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Services  Mary Engelbreit House Wren Studio Charlotte Lyons

Taking a cue from a storefront in the 4200 block of Delmar, and from two dear friends, Mary Engelbreit and Charlotte Lyons, who are encouraging people to vote in their signature artsy way, I want to reinforce their important message by sharing their suggestions with you.

Charlotte Lyons, one of my oldest friends from earlier days in the neighborhood, posted a diy VOTE pin on Instagram and Facebook.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Services  Mary Engelbreit House Wren Studio Charlotte Lyons

“Last night I made a patch”, she posted. “Don’t let what you can’t do get in front of what you CAN do. Vote in November! I’m going to wear it everyday and everywhere. Make one and pin it onto your coat or shirt or handbag.”

If embroidery is not one of your many talents,  simply pen the message on a piece of fabric and wear it proudly.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Services  Mary Engelbreit House Wren Studio Charlotte Lyons

Charlotte, who now lives in Vermont, hosts popular craft weekends there. Visit her blog to learn more.

And from artist Mary Engelbreit:

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Services  Mary Engelbreit House Wren Studio Charlotte Lyons

Mary, another longtime friend, created a VOTE poster she is offering as a free download on the ME website.  Look for a VOTE tote bag, $26, on the website too.

Thanks to both Charlotte and Mary for their inspiration. There’s power in this simple message: VOTE on November 6!

P.S. – Here’s a post on a craft weekend Mary and Charlotte hosted in the Central West End in June of 2017.