Local Boutique with a Twist at the Foundry in Clovis
By Jordan Venema
Photo: Ellie Koleen
Traditionally, a foundry is a workshop for casting metal, and just saying the word can conjure soot-smothered faces leaning over glowing furnaces while sparks fly past. That considered, visitors of Old Town Clovis who come across a particular boutique on Fifth Street might be puzzled by its name: The Foundry. But that would be less confusing than calling the store Vintage on Fourth.
The Foundry is a boutique that sells everything from jewelry to clothing, home décor and custom furniture. “We do a bit of everything,” says owner Karen Chisum. It’s a vintage modern shop, streamlined and clean, or West Elm meets Anthropologie, suggests Chisum, “but mostly local stuff.”
So why The Foundry?
“Well, we couldn’t be Vintage on Fourth on Fifth, so we changed our name to The Foundry,” explains Chisum, laughing. Three years ago she and her husband opened a vintage store on Fourth Street in Old Town Clovis, just a block away from their current location. After they outgrew the former and smaller space, they relocated to Fifth Street, choosing a name that reflected their roots in retail.
“It started with my husband and I doing custom projects for customers, making and selling metal letters in different fonts and shapes,” says Chisum. She would then display the custom metal-worked letters in vintage frames, which she and her husband found at other vintage and antique stores. “So we were out and about looking for these cool frames, and we would find and buy all this other cool stuff,” says Chisum, “but we didn’t really have a place to put it.” Not until Vintage on Fourth.
But that was once upon a time, and since then, The Foundry has “grown and evolved into a much different type of store.”
For starters, it has grown to include more local goods. “We enjoy working with local artisans, so we have a lot of local items like goat milk soaps and wall art and jewelry.”
The Foundry carries products made by California Natural of Madera and Basilwood Farms of Prather, as well as custom signs by local graphic artist Harper Grayce. “She does custom signs that are amazing,” says Chisum, from custom logos to inspirational words displayed against reclaimed wood. “Our number one selling in the store and one of my favorite is Capri Blue, a candle line,” says Chisum. “We are always on the lookout for local artisans to put in our shop.”
Other than a wider selection of products, The Foundry also has expanded its workforce beyond the married couple. “Two girls now work closely with us, who are essentially shop partners,” says Chisum.
One partner used to live in Texas, and whenever she makes the trip home “she brings back all kinds of cool things that you can’t find here,” says Chisum. “Old vintage quilts that are hand-stitched, barn-inspired pierces,” just a little farmhouse flair.
The other partner, Amy, custom makes furniture, “everything from entertainment centers to hutches, to bookshelves – all kinds of stuff,” says Chisum. “She also helps the home décor side of the store.
As for Chisum, she calls herself a jack-of-all-trades, focusing on kitchen design and boutique, women’s clothing and jewelry.
It was an easy transition to retail for Chisum, who formerly worked in real estate, as well as for her husband, a cabinet designer. Both were familiar with designing the space in a home and kitchen, but what really made the difference were the customers.
“It’s the people honestly,” says Chisum. “The customers, they’re not just customers. They’re your friends. They turn out to be like family. You know them, you know their kids, you know what’s going on in their life, and you celebrate with them.” And while Chisum might compare The Foundry’s atmosphere to other popular retail boutiques, you certainly won’t find these kind of relationships on the shelves at Antrhopologie.
The Foundry • 516 5th St., Clovis • (559) 960-2538
Tuesday–Saturday, 10am-5:30pm; Sunday, 11am-4pm
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