“Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens…these are a few of my favorite things.” – Rodgers & Hammerstein
In Fircrest and University Place some of “my favorite things” are concentrated in two locations, three minutes apart. The Mail Room resonates with fun, quirky and clever visuals, while Paper Luxe is creative, classy and exquisite in different yet complementary ways. The two businesses are separate, and yet support each other as good neighbors.
What caught my eye at Paper Luxe was a business card holder for The Mail Room prominently displayed on their shop’s front counter. I was intrigued and asked if they were connected, perhaps the same owners? Simply good people with good business sense supporting each other symbiotically.
Paper Luxe and The Mail Room are only a couple of blocks apart. They serve the same customer demographics in a number of ways – both shops offer fabulous gift items, toys and greeting cards that are unique and not mass-produced. Paper Luxe specializes in stationery and a panoply of pens plus it is the place to order wedding invitations; whereas, The Mail Room is only steps away to buy stamps and send the invitations on their way or to ship gifts purchased at Paper Luxe.
The Mail Room
The Mail Room has just launched “Privateer” in March, a secure package receiving service for a monthly subscription fee. “Privateer” is designed to thwart “porch pirates.” Owner Brandon Beauchesne says, “Apartment managers are overwhelmed with packages and don’t want to be responsible for all of those packages.” The Mail Room provides secure private mailbox rentals and is the only independent package shipping service in the South Sound. They handle mail and packages for the US Postal service and contract with DHL Worldwide, FedEx and UPS.
A brilliant convenience for customers who rent mailboxes, The Mail Room designed a neon sign that boldly proclaims “FRESH MAIL” when the mail has been delivered to the customers’ mailboxes.
They are happy to receive and send USPS mail for you in addition to partnering with DHL Worldwide, UPS and FedEx plus copying and fax service. All these services in one spot combine with the friendliest, most helpful people you’ll ever meet. I was shipping a package to a friend in Depoe Bay, Oregon. I mentioned that she and her husband are raising their special-needs grandchildren – a boy and girl set of twins. I showed Brit Beauchesne, Brandon’s wife, a picture of the kids. The twins are close to the same age as Brit and Brandon’s kids. Immediately, Brit offered to give me “like-new toys and clothing” their kids had outgrown to send to the twins.
Brandon and Brit Beauchesne took a deep dive into entrepreneurship in 2017 when they bought The Mail Room putting their own “stamp” on the long-established business. It’s become a family affair.
Brandon has a sales background and Brit is a former X-ray technician who also worked in a child development center. Their children Luci and Julian are often in the shop after school. Brandon says, “It’s cool for them to see Mom and Dad working because most kids don’t get to see what their parents do and what it encompasses.”
Even the family’s dog Mr. Teller (featured in the shop’s logo) is at the store to welcome customers from behind the front counter.
Brit says that when they featured a local artist for a “pop-up” event in the store, “It was amazing and well-attended, but I think with a little bit more planning and promotion the next time we do one it will be even better because we put it together just within a week.”
The hand-picked selection of zany gift items includes things you’ve got to see. Brandon said it is not uncommon for a new customer to come in and say, “My neighbor told me about your guys’ socks…” These are socks that will raise your eyebrows, kitchen towels to make you smile, and photo notecards featuring the Pacific Northwest, scrumptious candies and a mini Coca-Cola vending machine with real glass bottles of refreshing Coke.
Brandon mentioned that Paper Luxe has been “so supportive” ever since he and when Brit bought The Mail Room in 2017 even though they technically are competitors, each of these savvy specialty retailers recognize that there is more than enough business to support and grow each in the local communities. That’s why at Paper Luxe they are happy to display a business card holder on their shop’s front counter with cards for The Mail Room for the convenience of their customers so that they can know where to go for nearby full-service mailing and shipping services.
Paper Luxe is a dreamy world of exquisite gifts, pens, cards and stationery. Community is created and drawn in by classes offered in calligraphy and other workshops that are a creative delight and typically filled well in advance. All necessary supplies are available on-site.
Although originally from the Northwest, owner Jennifer Luna had been living in Southern California. She returned to University Place.
After leaving SoCal, Jennifer and her mother Laurie Hicks operated a successful online business from their home. Jennifer explains that she “had some e-commerce experience and bought some things” to start their home-based business. Jennifer has three daughters age 4, 11 and 13.
Despite many retail stores ultimately having to bow the knee to online business, Jennifer’s instinct led in the opposite direction. Her keen business acumen convinced her that she and her mom could build a successful brick-and-mortar business.
They first opened in a Bavarian-style building in University Place. Next, they opened in a former gift and collectibles shop, which had been owned for many years by Christine Hemmerling. It had been known as The Chalet. Jennifer and Laurie saw their business outgrow that location and moved into the Sunrise Center at 2053 Mildred Street West in Fircrest, where they are today, with higher visibility and a tremendous volume of street traffic.
Paper Luxe grew out of a passion that Jennifer had from years earlier while living in Port Angeles where she would often visit a stationery shop. Jennifer says, “I used to work as a personal assistant and an office assistant and I could never find good gifts for people.” Stationery and gifts paired nicely and have now evolved into her primary business.
Laurie and Jennifer fulfilled another dream when they opened The Curious Bear Toy and Book Shop last year. It is a fantasy land chock-full of puzzles, games, modern books and toys of all price ranges.
Laurie and Jennifer are opening their third business between Paper Luxe and The Curious Bear. Jennifer says, “The new store will be called The Crest Home. We plan to soft open part of the store in April, with a grand opening slated for May.” The Crest will feature home décor. Visit The Crest Home on Facebook, too.
These are a few of my favorite things…” –Rodgers and Hammerstein
For more information, check out The Mail Room on Facebook as well as Paper Luxe on Facebook. The Mail Room is located at 6824 19th Street W, University Place, and Paper Luxe is located at 2053 Mildred Street W.