Alair | Shandon Graybeal, owner | www.alairseattle.com
Alair means “happy” in Latin. And for store-owner Shandon Graybeal, it is her inspiration and driving force. “Everything in my store is to make people happy,” she said. “I have always loved buying the perfect gift for people and finding the most unique things. There were several stores over the years that I would walk into and feel so at home,” she explained. “It was always the dream to open my own, but it’s scary.”
Graybeal worked on a business plan and told herself she wouldn’t jump in until she found the perfect location. Working in territory sales for a large company, she spent a lot of nights in different cities in the Pacific Northwest. “Seeing how deeply people connected with the small businesses in their communities inspired me,” she said. “Then last year I got a divorce, and all of a sudden my future looked way different than I once thought. A month or so later, this perfect retail space opened right down the street from my house,” she recalls. “I just threw myself completely in and decided to go for it. I was so excited to be a part of the community,” she said.
Located in the Admiral District of West Seattle, Alair benefits from the small town feel. “This community loves to shop local and support the people they know,” Graybeal said. “We have all these great female-owned businesses that are hyper local and a cool, uber-supportive group of people. I feel incredibly lucky and grateful for the support of West Seattle,” she added.
The product mix at Alair is made up of candles, jewelry, cards, baby items, t-shirts and lots of books. They specialize in unique and small-batch gifts with an emphasis on locally made goods and companies that give back. “I was an English major and I’m a huge reader so I also love to buy books from all the different publishers,” Graybeal added.
To Graybeal, the best part of owning a store is the relationships and meeting all the neighbors and being able to give back to the community. “The highlight of my day is always when people come in and get so excited over the same products that I got excited over,” she said. “I feel like I am constantly meeting people with the same taste and sense of humor as myself. Also, I get to bring my two dogs with me everyday.”
Best-Sellers at Alair
Home Décor: Pink Linen Die Cuts, party supplies from Dixie and Twine | Kitchen Items: Cookbooks | Apparel & Accessories: Manos Zapotecas and Pixie Mood purses, Veronica and Harold and Rebekah J Designs jewelry. Mitscoots socks and beanies | Stationery & Greeting Cards: They all sell. Haven, Bunny Bear Press and Elum are the ones people always gravitate toward | Candles & Home Fragrances: Paddywax, Frostbeard, and Lets Put A Bird On It candles | Baby & Kids: The Idea Box Kids and onesies, plus a selection of children’s books