When Jeff Karnatz moved to Raymond, WA in
2016, he decided to grow lavender. Lots of lavender. Alongside his partner Paul
Karnatz, Jeff tends to the plants from seedling to processing, whereupon they
craft soaps, balms, bath salts, &c. Over the years, Willapa Valley Lavender
Farm has become a Pacific County staple.
But when the pandemic hit, the Karnatz’ decided to diversify their income. After years spent getting to know local craftspeople and artists, Jeff decided to host a holiday bazaar to showcase and sell their products. By the time it was over, he realized he was onto something.
Thus, Alder + Co. was born–a permanent bazaar without the stalls. Jeff and Paul’s open-concept marketplace is packed with the eclectic wares of local makers. Patrons are encouraged to browse, participate in community events, or relax with a latte in the cafe. Or treat themselves to some lavender products, fresh from the farm.
We asked Jeff how he brought his vision to life. Here’s what he shared with us:
Why did you choose to start a business in Pacific County?
My partner and I own a lavender farm and have slowly built a community of makers, artists, and craftspeople over four years of hosting and attending a variety of different markets.
What products or services do you offer?
We are a multifaceted retail boutique that offers goods made by over 80 local vendors as well as a locally-owned coffee shop.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
During the pandemic, we were looking for ways to
invigorate and sustain business profitability for ourselves as well as our
community. We came up with the idea to host a holiday bazaar in a locally-owned
building. This bazaar lasted two weeks during the month of December 2020 and
was wildly successful. After that, we were on a mission to find a
brick-and-mortar location to bring this retail experience to life permanently.
What was your mission when you started your business?
To create a community hub that embraces the
talent and creativity of our local artists, craftspeople, and makers. And
offers the greater community a place to create, eat, drink coffee, socialize,
What made you choose your industry?
It was by default of growing, harvesting, distilling, and marketing lavender products to sell in the retail market.
How did you come up with the name for your business?
We spent several days brainstorming creative
names and words that reflect the features of the location where we reside. We
wanted a name that was connected to the natural world and also didn’t conjure
up any specific mental images.
What is unique about your business?
Our business is unique in the sense that we
provide a retail outlet for local artists, craftspeople, and makers that are
merchandised in a fashion where goods are sold in stories or vignettes rather
than compartment bays.
Alder + Co is also unique in that we completely
change the entire layout and aesthetic of the store every season, holiday, or
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
It certainly would have been nice to start out
this endeavor with a big chunk of change in the bank, but who’s to say that
things would have turned out the way they did. We probably wouldn’t do anything
What has been your most satisfying moment?
Watching a dream turn into reality.
How do you define success?
To us, success is in the delight of the people who walk through the door, and how their eyes light up.
Invigorating the local economy and seeing the community take advantage of our space for comfort and connection.
How do you view your role in the community?
We humbly consider ourselves to be leaders in the community by creating a business that many thought could never survive. Since Alder + Co. was established, there have been several other new businesses
pop up with a similar business model. And they say mimicry is the highest form of flattery, right?
We work hard to stay ahead of the curve and offer goods, services, and experiences that are new and modern to our rural area. We also strive to offer a large variety of experiences like classes,
workshops, music, social media moments, etc.
How can a business owner create space for LGBT+ members in the community?
As a business owner in a small rural coastal town, we devote a portion of our time and energy towards engaging and supporting representation of diverse communities across all levels of our business, from
showcasing vendors to engaging social media content.
We also work towards supporting and representing all events and information in our community to create a HUB that reflects the needs, interests, and creativity of our community while pushing the needle
forward ever so slightly.
Maintain your identity and vision throughout your growth and evolution as a business, and lead by example.
If you had a piece of advice to offer someone starting a business in Pacific County,
what would it be?
Be tenacious and be patient. Things move a little slower in this rural town and can take time, but do not give up. Stay true to your vision and keep moving forward, even if it’s just little steps.
Oh, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
For any aspiring business owner in Pacific County, here are a few key takeaways from Jeff’s experience:
● Build on the experience and resources you have.
● Think outside of the box (or stalls, as it were).
● Open yourself up to different parts of the community
● Be bold; Even if others think you’ll fail, they’re not always right.
● Be patient. One step at a time.
● Don’t be afraid to ask for help