Midtown has more than bars and food though. There are a lot of locally owned shops that sell clothing, accessories and hand-crafted home décor items. Textures and Bali Hi are two of such shops that have a large selection of hand-made goods. Interestingly enough, they both used to call Railroad Square home.
My first experience with shopping at Textures was a great one. Upon walking into the store you are met with the mouthwatering smells of freshly baked cupcakes. There's a slight sweetness in the air from the freshly made frosting and fondant. Textures has made the brilliant move of grouping itself with Lucy & Leo's Cupcakery. The lightheartedness of a hand-crafted cupcake united with the quirkiness of their hand-made goods adds up to a very original shopping experience. I believe that every shop could take a cue from Textures. Coupling cupcakes and craftwork together makes for a nice environment.
Textures has been locally owned and operated in Tallahassee since November of 2007. About two years ago they moved from their location in Railroad Square to their current one in Midtown. I had the pleasure of talking with the owner of Textures, Maggie Willman, about the store. She explained that the store aims to promote local artists as well as some from neighboring states. About 90% of the inventory is Tallahassee made. Maggie even adds her own hand made pillows in the mix. Hers are the cute elephant pillows that have been flying off the shelves.
While Textures and Bali Hi both deal in hand-crafted goods, Bali Hi's inventory comes from many different exotic locales but a majority of it comes from Bali, Indonesia. Owned and operated by Bill and Elaine Grace, the shopping experience is very intimate. All of their pieces fall under the Fair Trade principles. Elaine travels to Bali and builds relationships with the artists and makes sure that the pieces are purchased through moral means.
Last time I was there, Bill was eager and willing to answer any question that a customer had, and if there weren't many questions, he was ready to get to know them. That was one thing that stuck out to me more so than the brilliantly crafted wood pieces. Shopping there seemed to be more about being welcomed into an exotic locale rather than closing a sale.
The store's layout is reminiscent of those market places in foreign lands. There are beautiful pieces hung all over the clay colored walls. Pretty much everywhere you look there is a custom one of a kind decoration. I had the chance to talk to Bill and he informed me that every piece had a story and a history. He showed me a set of mosaic mirrors on the wall and explained how they were made by a single mother in Bali. This woman, alongside taking care of her children and household, was not only a mother but an artist.
If you're in the market for some cupcakes and locally made items stop by Textures. Bali Hi will be moving back to 621 Railroad Square at the end of the month (August), so stop by to take advantage of some close out deals.