With an exposed red brick wall, weathered wood accents and a general rustic-bohemian flavor, the newly opened Gilt & Gossamer doesn’t show any signs of its former life as a Rapid Refill ink store at 873 Willamette St. Sprinkle in some nubby sweaters, flirty party dresses and chic house décor, and the shop joins what’s becoming somewhat of a boutique mecca downtown.
“I just like being part of a renaissance,” says Gilt & Gossamer co-owner Melissa Achtien. “I think that’s what’s happening.” An accountant and Indianapolis transplant, Achtien moved to Eugene about a year ago for her husband Chris Achtien’s new position as the executive director of the Willamette Valley Cancer Institute.
“We love coming downtown,” Achtien says. “We love the Saturday Market. We come and eat down here; we go to movies.”
This story orginally stated the wrong address. The corect
Achtien knew she wanted to get involved in the downtown revitalization but wasn’t sure how. Her longtime friend from Indianapolis, Sheila Jesionowski, flew out for a visit. After spending time downtown, Jesionowski — who has opened boutiques in other college towns (Colette in West Lafayette, Indiana, and in Tucson, Arizona) and runs giltandgossamer.com — said that the city center was perfect for another apparel shop. Achtien and Jesinowski became partners in the venture and signed a lease for the space on Oct. 31.
“The merchants around here have just welcomed us like crazy,” says Achtien, pointing out the encouragement they received from next-door neighbor and fellow apparel and housewares boutique Heritage Dry Goods as well as from Belly, The Barn Light, Passionflower and Cone Ball Antiques. In fact, Cone Ball Antiques is lending them furniture to display goods.
But Achtien says she is wary of opening so close to similar stores. “We don’t want to be bad neighbors,” she says, noting that she canceled an order of candles after seeing that Passionflower already carries them.
Gilt & Gossamer’s main focus is on women’s clothing and accessories.
“The target demographic is anywhere from 20 to, honestly, I wear some of the clothes out of there and I’m 51,” Jesionowski says. She says Gilt & Gossamer carries national brands like Free People, Fidelity Denim and Skies Are Blue but “we are very open to local merchandise.” She adds, “Eventually we definitely want to add more Pacific Northwest brands and local artists.”
Gilt & Gossamer will expand to carry menswear when the spring lines become available as well as baby, pet and wedding products.
This story has been edited because it originally stated an incorrect address. The correct address is 873 Willamette St.