Blooming downtown attracts business

R. Blooms of Lake Oswego expands with Vancouver location

When Richard and Trudi Bloom and business partners Al and Sandee Kirkwood, owners of Lake Oswego-based home décor shop R. Bloom’s, couldn’t find the right place around Portland to open a second location, they hesitantly crossed the Interstate Bridge.

"Nothing seemed to be the right fit," said Richard Bloom.

On the suggestion of the Kirk–woods, who live in Clark County, they took a look at the revitalization taking place in downtown Vancouver.

"As soon as we drove into the Esther Short Park area," said Bloom, "Trudi and I looked at each other and said ‘This is it.’"

With just two months preparation time, R. Bloom’s opened its doors the same weekend the indoor Vancouver Farmer’s Market did in mid September.

At 1,800 square feet, R. Bloom’s Vancouver shop, located on Esther Short Commons, is smaller than the 3,000-square-foot Lake Oswego store opened in 1989, but includes many of the same elements. The store is stocked with home furnishing and decorations. R. Blooms incorporates items collected from European and Asian trips made by the owners and lines of custom furniture and accessories made by local artisans.

Bloom said the store already had a Clark County customer base. Bloom’s monthly appearances offering home decorating tips on KATU Channel 2’s AM Northwest has boosted the business’ reputation. The Lake Oswego store also offers arrangements of fresh and faux flowers, which are delivered across the region. In addition, R. Bloom’s offers interior design and home decorating services.

R. Bloom’s is also known as one of only 14 retailers across the county offering a full line of Christopher Radko Christmas ornaments. R. Bloom’s even dedicates year-round space to the ornament collection, which features decorations for all the year’s holidays.

R. Bloom’s also offers specialized ornaments for local non-profit organizations, with proceeds going directly to the charity.

Bloom said it is important for the business to be connected to the community, but "it’s tough to just write a big check like corporations," so selling the ornaments and being active with local organizations is how R. Blooms becomes involved.

Store sales generate 75 percent of the business’ revenue, with interior design making up the rest. The store also does a lot of custom ordering for its clients. Bloom has found that Washington’s sales tax has not been an issue for the store. Customers appreciate the convenience of shopping locally, he said. And Bloom is surprised by the number of Clark County residents who are former Oregonians and used to shop at the Lake Oswego location.

R. Bloom’s has about 20 part- and full-time employees between both stores and its design team. And the Blooms and Kirkwoods find themselves wrapped up in all the facets of running the business.

"We do it all," said Bloom. "Our hats change everyday."

Bloom said the Vancouver store is performing according to plan, and depending on its success, it may not be the last location.

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