If you’ve spent any amount of time in Southern Oregon, you’ve likely shopped at Paddington Station. It sits along East Main Street in Ashland, a stately white building that beckons shoppers to enter and explore. With creative window displays and friendly greetings at the door, they offer an invitation that’s hard to resist. The historic 8000 sq ft emporium’s three floors are filled to the brim with eclectic personal and decor items, unique gifts and to-die-for kitchen goods, among other treasures. This beloved flagship of the Hammond family’s line of stores in Ashland has served the community for over 30 years.
“We see ourselves as sort of stewards of the downtown area,” says co-owner Pam Hammond. “Unfortunately, there have been a lot of stores closing and I think that we feel really passionate about keeping our downtown vibrant and alive and full of diverse retailers, and giving people a reason to come and support the entire downtown corridor.”
“We devote a lot of the year making sure that we have the most on trend, focused product,” says Pam’s daughter and co-owner Kelly Jean Hammond. “Last year I think we went to 14 different trade shows, looking at thousands of different pieces of product. That was a lot of travel time. I think that was really the first spark that made us think that we have more we want to do in the retail space.”
The Hammonds are certainly fueling the economy and doing their part in the heart of downtown Ashland. A walk down East Main reveals four complete stores, each with a unique vibe and personality. The Inspired By Oregon store, situated directly next door to Paddington Station at 131 East Main Street, offers carefully curated items from the state of Oregon, including items from Pendleton and Branson’s Chocolates. Across the street and a little further down is the delightful Paddington Jewel Box, full of all things glitz, glam and just the right amount of trendy.
The newest addition to the Paddington family, Paddington Express, is a permanent pop-up store at 300 East Main Street that opened in the Spring of 2019 and offers shoppers a new theme every season. This gorgeous space boasts a breathtaking chandelier and plenty of natural light, and is the perfect opportunity for the Hammonds to surprise and delight their customers in a new way. It offers a brand new shopping experience every few months, with themes such as Alice in Wonderland and Fashion Under $30. As we go to print, a new theme is set to launch on November 15th, and the mother-daughter duo couldn’t be more excited about it.
“This new pop up that we’re doing, called the Gift of Giving, is our gift to the community,” says Kelly Jean. “This is our opportunity to really give back locally, globally and internationally.”
The theme incorporates an interactive shopping experience, and visitors can reference a map to learn more about a product’s origins and global impact. A portion of each sale goes to support a cause or organization, such as a Polar Bears International, or supporting local non-profits such as Family Nurturing Center and SART (Sexual Assault Response Team), or highlighting local artisans, such as Angelica Ruppe, who is teaching young women to sew in orphanages in Tanzania.
“We will be selling placemats, napkins, and aprons from Tanzania, so there will be this connection with one of our own from the Rogue Valley,” says Kelly Jean. “Each item is beautiful and vibrant, and handmade by a young woman in Tanzania whose life is a little different than it was before.”
It certainly is a refreshing alternative to big box shopping. Giving customers the ability to scan a code on the back of a beautiful basket to find out where the artisan lives, what their family is like, and how they learned their craft is a fresh spin on shopping with a purpose. Additionally, the ability to purchase an item and know it is supporting a local shelter or non-profit helps customers feel like they are part of a bigger purpose.
“We’ve had a long-standing tradition of giving back to the community financially, but we really wanted to up that,” says Kelly Jean. “We wanted to make this theme specific and we wanted to make it meaningful. We’re envisioning the Gift of Giving like a colorful and diverse bazaar, filled with global merchandise. We put our heart and soul into this, and we’ve carefully chosen each and every piece that will be for sale. Every item will have a story.”
Our little corner of the Pacific Northwest is filled with small businesses like Paddington Station, who care about their community and empower others to make the world a better place. This is definitely our kind of story – one we hope the Hammonds will continue to tell for a very long time.