This week we’re continuing with our vendor feature series and highlighting the lovely indie shop Modern Mouse. Opened in 2009 and tucked away in an open-air shopping center in Alameda, California, this sweet boutique offers loads of handcrafted goods. We asked owner Eleen Hsu some questions about how this unique shop got its start and what makes it so special.
What inspired you to open Modern Mouse? In mid-2009, I heard about a business plan competition offering the grand prize of a 1-year lease on a retail space at a local shopping center. I'd grown up crafting and loved the world of DIY/handmade, was running a tiny little business on Etsy selling handmade bags and dreamed of having my own brick-and-mortar shop, so I entered! I made it to the semi-finalists with a concept pretty close to Modern Mouse's current business model, but in the end I lost out to a learning cafe concept. A few months later, I noticed that CCA (California College of the Arts) had opened a pop-up shop in my neighborhood shopping center. Inspired, I wrote to the property manager and within 6 of the busiest weeks of my life, Modern Mouse opened its doors! We started off as a holiday pop-up shop with goods from about 50 artists, and 2 years later we've tripled our roster and thrive on being able to bring the amazing work of local and indie artists to our community.
What makes Modern Mouse so unique? One of the things that we think makes us unique is that we're such big fans of DIY that we love sharing it as much as we love selling it. Every month we host a Crafty Hour that's led by queen of crafting Polly Conway. We choose a fun craft that teaches a different skill each month, round up supplies (and of course snacks and beverages), and invite the community to join us for an enlightening evening of crafts! We also love putting a name, face, and story to the goods that our customers purchase. We display artist profile cards alongside their work, as well as feature each one on our blog. We've also started a series called "Show Your Studio" to give customers behind-the-scenes looks into where all the magic happens.
How long have you been carrying H!L cards? We started carrying Hello!Lucky cards just a few months after we opened. H!L cards are right up our alley because like most of our products, they're also locally made just across the bay in San Francisco! Not to mention that the H!L team makes it fun and super-easy to order. :]
Do you have a favorite or best selling card from us? Peeps is our best-selling H!L card! Unicorns and Lionheart are tied for second, and the Sock Monkey series are all around faves as well. My fave is the new Greetings from San Francisco card!
Can you tell us a little bit about your staff and what they are loving in the store right now? Fuzzy monster gear by Ghoulie Girls is a perennial favorite, but the plush critters by Phil Barbato have also recently snatched a special place in our hearts, along with 3 Fish Studios' "I Love California" prints. Not to mention, of course, the work of three of our very own talented staffers: Genevieve Santos of Le Petit Elefant, Polly Conway of Pollyannacowgirl and Marguerite Payne of Bella Beads!
Anything else? We're so grateful for the support of our customers, our artists, the handmade community and wonderful vendors like Hello!Lucky for making it a joy to do what we love!
Thanks Modern Mouse! If you live in the Bay Area, go say hello! The shop is located at 2228 S Shore Ctr, Ste A, Alameda, CA 94501.