PORT TOWNSEND — The Wandering Wardrobe, for the past couple of decades, has been a place for earth-conscious style and the occasional bottle of Champagne.
Now the owners, Beverly Michaelsen and her daughter Kaiya Lily Hubbard, are “ready to pass the torch along to someone more computer-savvy,” Michaelsen said this week.
The vintage clothing business is on the market for $50,000. The building itself, in the Fountain District at 936 Washington St., is priced at $450,000.
Michaelsen, who first opened in 1998, said the time has come for a new proprietor to put those retro dresses and suits on a website for worldwide browsing, “rather than our little Port Townsend stage.”
With the advent of the pandemic, shoppers are migrating to the internet — while Michaelsen and Hubbard are poised to pursue new chapters.
Hubbard, 36, is a jewelry artist and novelist intending to publish her fantasy fiction. Her mom, 62, works also at the Unity Center of Port Townsend, where she’s helped organize the first virtual Festival of Lights.
All along, running the boutique has aligned with the pair’s values.
“I’ve seen the Wardrobe as a platform for the reusing of resources,” Michaelsen said.
“Rather than sending [vintage clothing] off to the dump,” or giving it to a large charity organization, she aims to provide locals with a place to consign and recycle.
And there have been parties: small groups of friends would come in to try things on and sip a glass of bubbly.
A tango birthday party had the snug shop pulsing with bandoneon music.
These days, as Michaelsen and Hubbard hope for a buyer, they’re continuing to consign and sell apparel.
Michaelsen, who networks with nearby thrift shops, recently picked up a couple of armloads of winter coats to sell at $20 apiece.
At the same time, consigners who want their things back are coming in to pick them up, she said.
Some give her the go-ahead to donate the items.
On a recent Sunday, Michaelsen had to limit the number of people indoors due to social distancing protocols. A family showed up, and “the guys volunteered to wait outside,” she said.
The shop is open noon to 4 p.m. Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and by appointment Sunday through Wednesday. A phone number is posted on the door for people stopping by.
“I live five minutes away. We’re amenable to come down and open up,” Hubbard said.
Michaelsen, whose previous career was in human services, was living in upstate New York when her friend Gail Dahlman moved to a town on the Olympic Peninsula.
Come see this place, Dahlman said. Michaelsen did, and she decided to take a leap into a new life.
“I turned 40 and thought, what am I waiting for? I packed up my daughter and I, and we took the train,” opening the shop three months after arrival.
Dahlman was Michaelsen’s first partner; when Hubbard came of age, she joined her mother in business.
To this day, “my mom is my best friend,” Hubbard said.
She’s also a designer whose costumes have clothed the characters of 2017’s “Murder Ballad” and 2018’s “Daddy Long Legs,” musicals at Key City Public Theatre.
After years of shopping at the Wardrobe, “we convinced Beverly to bring her keen eye and stitching-crafting prowess to the theater,” said KCPT artistic director Denise Winter.
Michaelsen is one resourceful collaborator, she said.
By the start of 2020, Michaelsen said she knew she wanted to sell the Wardrobe and have a quieter lifestyle — yet, “I’m a bit of a procrastinator,” so it took the pandemic for her to move forward.
The past several months have given people a chance “to think about how they want to spend their time,” she added, “and to re-evaluate their lives.”
Diane Urbani de la Paz, senior reporter in Jefferson County, can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected].