Elementé has always housed the most stylish retro furniture in town. Photo Courtesy Elementé
Known for scores of stylish retro furniture, unbeatable prices, and a place to rest your tired dogs, Elementé has been an anchor on Pierpont Avenue for 25 years.
To last 25 years as a small business takes smarts, patience and a lot of gusto. Owner Kate Bullen recalls the initial decision to open up the store came from the green eyed monster: “A new home decor store opened up on 9th and 9th called Crackers, and I sat there lamenting, ‘I could do that,’ and then my mother piped up and said ‘Why don’t you?’ I had a degree in interior design so I went for it,” she says. Officially opening July 5, 1988, Kate and company looked for every opportunity to bring business over to the old warehouse district, or as she called it, “Nowheresville.” In 1988, 300-400 West was the wild west, complete with trains rolling through town. Kate recalls, “… It felt so rural, the whole store would shake when the trains passed by on 400 West.”
The location on Pierpont brought historical roots, open space, creative neighbors, and a little West Side, edge-of-town feel. To create the space at the old Bradshaw Auto Parts warehouse, they had to tear out two tons of sheetrock and 2 x 4s, but the space had great raw energy. Outside of the clearing of old building materials and moving some doors around for aesthetics, the place was very well suited for this new business. Kate says, “The first year was hard, we thought we’d get business from the Utah Arts Festival, then held at the Triad Center, even handing out fliers, but it was slow to catch on. People would tell me it takes two years, then three, or give it five--it was scary and exciting.”
Over the years, many amazing creative types have shared this Pierpont Avenue address (including the current SLUG Mag headquarters), and Kate credits this great neighborhood for keeping her and the business going. Dock repair and eventual reconstruction limited the outside world’s access to the shop, but bonding together and celebrating their “Pierpont Pride,” Kate and the other business on Pierpont survived the construction and now enjoy the benefits of a safe and easy access between the shops and the street.
Not just a fan or a patron, I have become a friend of Elementé. Over the years, my husband and I acquired many pieces from the store while living in our three-bedroom apartment at Artspace. As life and space changed, we brought back many of those pieces and sold them on consignment while we searched for items for our studio apartment, and then a year later, we switched furniture around again when we moved to our four-bedroom home. All along the way, Kate and her right-hand gal, Teresa Bell, offered advice on placing items and new pieces that would complement what we already had. It was a challenging couple of years, moving that many times, the paring down and then filling back up of spaces. Elementé helped me make each new place feel like home.
Elementé houses everything from couches and coffee tables to vintage prints and knick-knacks, but more than anything, it houses nostalgia. A space that transcends time, it has no computers, no bar codes--just Kate and Teresa’s friendly faces and vast knowledge and style.
To celebrate this momentous occasion, stop by to reminisce with food and drink during Gallery Stroll on July 19 from 6 p.m. to when the lights go out.
Cheers Elementé! Happy Birthday and here’s to many more!
Check out some great photos of the store by City Home Collective here.