Linnea’s—A Unique Boutique earns its name, not only for the amazing variety and quality of items beautifully displayed in such a small space, but also for its location. Stepping into the inviting lobby of the Capital Medical Center on a recent Friday morning, I felt none of the foreboding hospitals usually hold for me. On my left, this welcoming little shop was beckoning me. It was unlike any I had ever seen, especially in a hospital setting.
As I moved past two nurses lining up purchases on the counter, I had a recurring feeling that I knew a shop like this once before. When we visited Newport, Washington heading to a lake cabin in the summers, I always stopped at a fashion boutique squeezed among the used furniture stores, gun shops, and pizza parlors. It was slightly out of place, but had a unique attraction. It, too, was a brave venture on the part of a local woman, so I immediately felt at home at Linnea’s.
I could have wandered for hours in the tiny space creating my own story about the mastermind behind this wonderful place, but instead I found Linnea Grantham and learned how her boutique is a “lifelong dream come true.” Linnea and her husband, John, also own Budd Bay Promotions and Apparel in Lacey. “We do a great deal of work with Capital Medical Center,” Linnea said, “so when the gift store previously in this space closed, a friend at Capital asked if I knew anyone who was interested.”
Growing up in Massachusetts, Linnea and her two sisters loved working in their parents’ European Gift Store, and they vowed to someday open a store together. However, since geography now separates the sisters, Linnea with the support of her husband and children decided, “It was my opportunity.” She signed the papers in November and opened Linnea’s—a Unique Boutique five weeks later on December 11, 2015 in time for holiday shoppers.
Linnea recalled that busy time, “From painting, wallpapering, to moving stuff out and in, shopping and shopping some more…we literally put Linnea’s together on a shoestring and in record time. I couldn’t have done it without the support of family and help from my friends.” Her team of friends works Monday through Thursday, and Linnea takes the Friday shift. Currently the boutique is open weekdays from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., but Saturdays may soon be added.
Each display is highlighted by something distinctive or quirky. Odette the Ostrich greets shoppers at the entrance. Linnea, loves her “shop girl” Odette. “We found a brand of stuffed animals – Jellycat – but we couldn’t afford to buy a huge inventory of such high end plush, so I talked the rep into selling me some of his samples to test the line. Wacky, fluffy and utterly full of personality, Odette the Ostrich was perfect.”
Early on opening day, a nurse came in, took Odette from her perch, and said, “I have to have her.” Linnea talked the nurse into leaving Odette through the holiday rush, and before Christmas they had orders for 12 more. “During the first two months, we have sold 18 of her and I just got 14 more in yesterday.”
Items are all selected with care and concern for quality and price. “Like Odette, the crazy little DAMMIT DOLLS have been a wondrous item, and the Cancer DAMMIT DOLLS have been so beloved that we donate 50% of the profit to cancer research,” Linnea explained. She added, “Who doesn’t want to throw something against a wall when they are stressed?”
“The latest and greatest sellers are the amazing stainless steel double wall insulated water bottles,” according to Gretchen Maliska who works in the boutique. “When tested, ice and water were still frozen and cold after three days, and these bottles sell for less than most name brands.”
Amid the wonderful signs, jewelry displays, stands of notepads and pens, boxes of Olympia-inspired chocolates, colorful organic apparel catches the eye. Pink shirts are made from ketchup bottles, brown from beer bottles, blue from pop bottles, and black from recycled food trays.
I had to stop wandering for a minute to catch up with Candy Hayertz and Kim Carlson, both RNs at Capital Medical Center, before they returned to work. “This boutique is not your average gift shop,” Candy said. “I never even went into the shop that was here before.” Kim agreed, “She has so much fun stuff here. We stop in often. Before she opened, Linnea asked for staff input on the products we might buy, and to keep life interesting, she rearranges and adds new products weekly.”
Beautiful flowers from Elle’s Floral Designs in Lacey line the case across from Linnea’s. Large gift bouquets and small vases for desktops are stocked daily. Linnea said, “Special orders are welcome. Michelle at Elle’s is so accommodating and wonderful to work with.”
Easy parking, surprising products, and fabulous service make a stop at Linnea’s – A Unique Boutique, a must. When you leave, you will have a smile on your face and a classy purchase in your pink and black boutique bag.
Linnea’s – A Unique Boutique
Lobby of Capital Medical Center
Open: Monday – Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.