This month Ben and Gretchen Knudsen are celebrating their one-year anniversary of the Ballard location of their modern home decor, furniture, and accessories shop Digs. Recently Gretchen took some time to answer a few questions about their move of the shop from Bellingham to Ballard, and what she and Ben love most about living in Seattle.
Tell me the story of Digs. What led you guys to create this fantastic shop?
We lived and taught English in Taiwan for a year and a half, where we came across a great little home/lifestyle store called Workinghaus. It got us talking about how fun it would be to do something like that of our own when we returned to the States. Eventually, a great retail spot opened up in downtown Bellingham, and we jumped on it.
Digs was in Bellingham for five years, but sales had plateaued, and we knew there was a hole in the Seattle market after Velocity closed its doors. We started looking at Seattle houses to buy and retail spaces to rent, and were surprised to find prices comparable to Bellingham (we got lucky). We opened Digs in Ballard in early March of 2013.
What's your process for choosing the designers and products that you sell?
It's pretty all over the place. People approach us all the time, and we come across lines online, via Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. There are so many people out there doing fun stuff -- the hard part is narrowing it down! We also go to shows when we can (ICFF in New York, and the Las Vegas Market), which isn't very often now that we have a toddler.
I visited your Solestruck pop-up event. It was fun to see shoes alongside your selection of home goods. What made you decide to partner with them?
Solestruck approached us about the pop-up as part of the nationwide tour they were planning. It seemed like a natural extension of our current product offering -- modern design and fashion go hand-in-hand! Our first anniversary was coming up, which made for a great excuse to have a party to celebrate both.
What do you love best about living in Seattle?
Summer! You just can't beat Seattle when it's sunny. There are so many gorgeous lakes, parks, and things to do outside that aren't common for a city our size elsewhere.
We also love the size of Seattle. It's big enough that there's always a new restaurant or shop to check out, but small enough that you don't feel lost in a concrete jungle. There's also a lot of talent in this city -- designers, as well as artists and musicians. There's just something about Seattle that nurtures the creative spirit.
Pretend you have guests visiting from out of town. What three things would you tell them that they had to do or see while they're here?
Starting with the obvious - Pike Place Market. It's so "Seattle", and it's fun even if you live here! We make most everyone join us on a walk around Lincoln Park, which has all the beauty of the Pacific Northwest right in one spot: ferries coming and going, the Olympics and San Juan Islands in the background, trails through impressively huge trees, and the occasional pod of orcas (if you're lucky!).
And we're definitely biased, but lastly - Ballard. Most of our guests will want to see the store, and we love being part of such a great community within Seattle. From the farmer's market at independent shops and restaurants, it's a pretty special neighborhood.
The next big event at Digs will be a meet-and-greet this summer with one of their most popular furniture designers, Matt Eastvold. According to Gretchen, he's planning to fly out from Minnesota and there are rumors that he'll be bringing a keg of local beer. Keep in touch with Digs on Facebook to stay in-the-know.