A Baylor University alumni couple is putting functional art for entertaining center stage with the opening of Gather in downtown Waco.
Black Oak Art founder Jonathan Martin and Kindred Event Studio owner Sara Martin are launching the new venture at 719 Washington Ave. They will hold a grand opening party from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, coinciding with Waco’s First Friday, a monthly day of specials and extended hours at many downtown businesses.
The new retail store will offer home goods “where traditional Southern hospitality meets a modern aesthetic.”
It will also offer workshops on a range of topics, form calligraphy to wine pairing.
Its first full day of business will be Oct. 7, and store hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Products include a line of dishes, place settings, serving bowls and pitchers, a line of cutting boards in different shapes and sizes, and linen napkins. Other items will include wine glasses, items for a bar cart, books on entertaining, gift items, flatware and small pieces of furniture, Sara Martin said.
“We’ll also have napkin rings, so jewelry for your table, which is fun,” she said.
Six local artisans or shops will have products featured in the store, including Leslie Medlin, Mary Claret, Josh Morgan Creative and Reckless Iron Works.
“I’m excited just to see it all out, out of the boxes, and invite everyone to see what they think,” Jonathan Martin said.
Sara Martin is operating her Kindred Event Studio in the back of Gather so she has been at the location often during the week. She is eager to see how foot traffic flows during the Waco Downtown Farmers Market, which operates on Saturday mornings and recently relocated to the McLennan County Courthouse parking lot nearby.
“A lot of business people use Waco Escape Rooms during the day for training and stuff. People park over here and walk to the social work building, which brings people by, and also (Kate Parker Duncan, co-owner of Wildland) has her own traffic of course,” Sara Martin said. “I kind of didn’t know what to expect, so that’s been nice.”
Wildland Supply Co., an upscale retailer of clothing and furniture, moved from Austin Avenue to 721 Washington Ave., next to Gather’s space, in November.
Kate Parker Duncan and her husband, Cory, own the stretch of buildings that house Wildland, Gather and Waco Escape Rooms, which moved there after launching on Lake Air Drive.
Gather will host workshops for 10 to 15 people on Saturdays starting in mid to late October. Local experts will host up to 2-hour classes on calligraphy, watercolor, pickling, wine pairing and various other topics.
Collaborating on a new venture while independently maintaining separate businesses has been interesting, the couple said. They have learned to divide responsibilities.
“We both have our own other businesses that we run, and we have three children,” Sara Martin said. “Black Oak is obviously much bigger. It’s a full, 25-employee, full-time thing. Kindred is part- to full-time, and so it’s been a learning curve. It’s been, for the most part, positive. We have to turn it off at night and different things like that.”
Gather started as a side project and quickly became central to their work days, Jonathan Martin said.
“We definitely have to establish, one, boundaries, so we’re not just going to talk work after dinner,” he said. “It was easy to think we could just get it done on the side. Then we realized really quickly we were going to have to have regular meetings during our normal work days.”