Business Community

Business Spotlight: Community and creativity at the heart of Local Whimsy

Posted on October 30th, 2023 By:

A passion for community and craft is the inspiration behind Gig Harbor’s latest retail store to open on Harborview Drive, Local Whimsy.

Local Makers founder Caasi Dickens and Salena Ausburn, plant stylist and owner of  Whimsy Plant Co, have joined forces to offer more than just a marketplace for locally crafted products and plants. They’ve created a space that fosters community and creativity.

Caasi Dickens and Salaena Ausburn opened Local Whimsy as a place where “Makers” can sell their products, and as a center to foster creativity. Photo by Julie Warrick Ammann

‘Gather, create and shop’

Located in the former Weathered Cottage, the charming 1940s wooden building provides an ideal setting for creativity and retail. Abundant natural light pours through expansive windows above, illuminating the textures and colors of artisan works and a curated assortment of unique gift items for sale.

“Gather, create, & shop,” is the the mission of Local Whimsy, according to Dickens and Ausburn.

“We’re sort of a launching platform,” said Dickens, who began her creative venture during the pandemic with Local Makers of Gig Harbor. Transitioning from “online popups” to in-person markets featuring handmade crafts by local artisans, or “makers,” Dickens harnessed the region’s creativity and provided it with a platform to flourish and grow.

Local Whimsy is located in the former Weathered Cottage building on Harborview Drive. Photo by Julie Warrick Ammann

In March, when the Harbor General Store suddenly shuttered its doors, Dickens and her community of artisans were left without a retail venue to host their outdoor maker markets. The closure also impacted Ausburn, who sold her Whimsy Plant Company collections there.

They decided to combine their entrepreneurial and creative expertise and establish their own business in downtown Gig Harbor.

Dickens said the two figured that “if we’re going to do something big, that it should be on Harborview Drive.”  Ausburn added, “In the downtown area, there is that community feel. It’s community-driven.”

One business that houses two dozen

Dickens and Ausburn, both Washington state natives and Gig Harbor locals, knew that they needed to have a business that “brought people in to do more than one purpose.”

Salena Ausburn strives to make the world greener one plant at a time through her passion for creative plant design and education for all levels. Photo by Julie Warrick Ammann

Securing a spot on Harborview Drive posed a challenge, but their persistence and collaboration with the Gig Harbor Downtown Alliance paid off. Just eight weeks after signing their lease, Local Whimsy celebrated a soft opening in October, with the official grand opening scheduled for November.

Today, more than two dozen local small businesses sell their handcrafted goods in the store. Products, both locally made and creatively sourced, change seasonally. You’ll find a diverse range of merchandise, from products catering to mothers, children, and infants, to DIY craft kits, housewares, and one-of-a-kind jewelry.

Additionally, the store offers unique gift baskets, “a blend of community spirit and premium goodies,” suitable for businesses or personal gifting. Engraving services are available either on-site or with a turnaround time of one to three days, depending on the item.

Caasi Dickens curates a gift basket inside Local Whimsy on Harborview Drive. Photo by Julie Warrick Ammann

The team working at Local Whimsy is also made up of local makers. Clare Dunis is the marketing and communications specialist at the company and sells her Bower and Bare Botanical Care natural spa and beauty products.

Age is not a factor at Total Whimsy. You can find colorful bracelets made by Gig Harbor area youth, or “mini-makers.”

Clare Dunis with one of the candles for sale inside Local Whimsy. Photo by Julie Warrick Ammann

Classes, event space and more

“It’s lovely; classic and offbeat,” remarked Gary Brodie of Gig Harbor, who explored the store while enjoying a waterfront stroll with his wife, Joanie. “Anytime it’s local, you try to support it. It’s these shops that keep it interesting.”

Local Whimsy also hosts classes. Moonlight Mushroom Painting, taught by local artist Gretchen Giese, is at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2. Learn to make a Gypsum Cement Terrazzo Trinket Tray at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 18. The classes cost $50. Visit the Local Whimsy event calendar for class and registration information.

You don’t have to take a class to create. DIY craft kits are available for purchase in the store and crafting workshop space is available for customers. Throughout the year, free events will provide parents or caregivers and children an opportunity to be creative and spend time together.

Joanie and Gary Brodie browse items for sale in Local Whimsy. Photo by Julie Warrick Ammann

The space is available for events, workshops, or meetings. Inquire within for details.

Joining as a local maker carries an annual membership fee of $50. The membership will increase to $100 in 2024.

“Our members have access to decreased vendor fees, and access to events they wouldn’t have gotten before,” Dickens said. In addition, the fee helps defray the infrastructure and organizational costs.

“We help people from the living room out,” Dickens said. “We want to help the people that have talent, skill, (and) help them build their business.”

“Working with their hands feeds the soul. It’s super-healthy,” said Ausburn, who strives to make the world greener one plant at a time through her passion for creative plant design and education for all levels.

Dickens believes that, “When you’re better together, amazing things can happen.”

Local Whimsy


Address: 3306 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday

Products for sale inside Local Whimsy on Harborview Drive. Photo by Julie Warrick Ammann