One day, a few months ago, in an effort to stymie an onsetting existential crisis, I decided to take a walk. It was one of those rare, mid-winter nice days, and since I'd been meaning (by meaning, I mean procrastinating) to start working on another Shop Local post, I decided that it was as good a time as ever to stroll around the corner and pop into Fellow Shop.
The little stretch of Broadway from 300 East to State Street is probably the quaintest in all of Salt Lake, stocked with locally owned shops and eclectic goods, and as I shuffled into Fellow Shop on that fateful sunny day, I immediately fell in love with the shops clean and crisp aesthetic of white washed walls, greenery, and overall spacious feel.
271 E Broadway, Salt Lake City, Ut
Fellow Shop is owned by Hannah Montgomery, a striking, quiet, force of a woman who, at 26, is already living out her childhood dream. "When I was a kid I always played shop, I'd set my room up as a store and make my mom come and shop so I could ring her up, so it's kind of always been something I've wanted to do!"
After paying her dues and working the obligatory retail management jobs, an opportunity presented itself to open her own small shop across the hall from her friend Heather (owner of Uintah Standard) in the Victorian building on the corner of 700 East and 600 South.
Needless to say, she seized the opportunity with vigor saying, "From the day that Heather and I talked about it to the day that Fellow Shop opened was two months. I just hustled, said 'bye!' to my current job, contacted a few people who's stuff I'd been wanting to carry in my dream shop and made it happen."
And so, Fellow Shop got it's start in a little 12x12 room. After 6 months both Heather and Hannah started to get antsy, feeling the need to move on from their starter location due to lack of walk-in traffic. As a teenager, Hannah dreamt of her ideal shop being on Broadway so naturally, that was the first place she looked. When she found out that Heather was also looking to plant roots on Broadway and a space simultaneously presented itself, the two took it as a serendipitous sign and decided to co-op.
The two H's kept shop together for a year with the mutual understanding that they would eventually part ways should a neighboring space open up. When it did (a lot sooner than expected) they found themselves at the familiar crossroad of 'We're not ready!' and 'But how long until another space opens up?!'. On par with the f*ck it attitude often needed as an entrepreneur, they both took a leap of faith (damn leaps of faith) and Hannah became solo owner of her dream shop, on her dream street.
Hannah opened her doors in November after an 'apocalyptic' week of 24 hour work days full of painting, renovating, and setting up shop, and hasn't looked back since. When her friend came by to visit in the final hours before officially opening for business, she was grateful for the reminder that she was actually 'doing it':
"I think we just get so caught up in the midst of things like 'whatever I've just gotta get this sh*t open' and my friend was just like 'stop for a second and take a look around - you built this! Two years ago you were admiring shops in San Francisco that looked like this and now you made your own' and I thought 'you're so right!!' It's just interesting how it's so obvious but we don't take time to appreciate it."
Being your own boss is a shiny, double edged sword (to which I can fully relate) and though Hannah laughs that she has since developed minor anxiety and insomnia, she knows she can never go back to working for someone else.
On being her own boss, Hannah stated "Self-motivation is definitely something I struggle with, but there's nothing quite like being the one calling the shots and having complete creative freedom."
What items can be found at Fellow Shop? An incredible selection of 'zines' (which I've never seen before in Salt Lake), women's clothing, and handmade goods sourced from artists both local and abroad, ranging from decorative to practical.
Hannah's zine affair began largely by visiting little shops in the Mission in San Francisco where she fell in love with them noting, "Books are obviously made by a publisher and that's really cool and stuff but what I love about zines is just the handmade quality of them - like somebody actually sits there and staples them and puts them together by hand. It's almost like the print equivalent of a punk band in your mom's garage, and I just love it, people taking things into their own hands like that."
Having lost myself in zine world for over an hour on my first visit to the shop I can personally attest to the fact that her zine collection ain't no joke and that their range from philosophical to practical, cheeky and comforting are unendingly interesting. If one should visit Fellow Shop for no other reason than to peruse the zine collection, one would not be disappointed.
For the future, Hannah plans to stay put and hopes to solidify the community of the three block stack of shops east and west of her by making it a little 'eco-system', saying, "I'd love to integrate more of a community aspect to the shop and host more workshops and events that bring people together - I'd like to make it more of a multi-functional space."
The first collaborative workshop that the block has put together, called Hold Space, takes place on the last Wednesday of every month and is an opportunity to 'take a break from your work week, be with other humans, and create'.
Hannah Montgomery, 26, owner of Fellow Shop
As someone who's deeply passionate about the city I live in, it's always heartening to find other business owners that feel the same way. Go stop in and say hello to Hannah and hopefully we'll see you at the next Hold Space workshop!