Karen Cavin, owner of on West Market Street in West Chester, will celebrate the seventh anniversary of the shop opening on May 4.
“When I first opened, this street was pretty much dead,” Cavin said. “There was Kaplan’s, The Painted Plate and me, but I could see the potential. Now we have Green Street Consignments, Carlino’s, Pietro’s Prime, Spice and Main Line Custom.”
After 30 years in graphic design, Cavin decided she wanted to open a shop featuring functional art & gifts.
“I closed my graphics business because it wasn’t fun anymore,” Cavin said. “My background is in art, and I wanted to get back to that. I enjoy running the shop more than graphic design. Running the shop is more creative.”
The word Cavin uses to describe herself and the items she sells in the shop is “bold.”
“If it’s not bold it gets lost in here,” Cavin said. “I like color. That’s why I painted my shop turquoise and coral.”
“I feature over 100 artists from all over North America,” Cavin said. “I also represent 20 Pennsylvania artists and 15 local consigned artists.”
Cavin added, “One of my best selling local potters, Bob Deane, even digs up his own clay here in the area.”
Cavin also stresses that almost everything is functional and usable, and as the name of the shop suggests, she tries to appeal to all five senses.
“I have barbeque sauces, candles, leather, glass and metal art. I try to sell things people can actually use,” Cavin said.
Besides her shop, Cavin is also outspoken about the development of downtown West Chester even recently participating in the Urban Land Institute’s comprehensive study.
“If there’s not a parking problem then you’re not a busy town, Cavin said. “You’re a vital town if all your parking is full, and there’s traffic. I think downtown development is vital and important.”
Cavin also has an individualistic streak that may help her attract customers.
“I feel that if people are here in the downtown then it’s my job to get them inside the shop and buy,” Cavin said.
Cavin argues that she does this by offering people items they can’t find anywhere else.
“I’ve always tried to find quality items that I can sell for under $100,” Cavin said. “My customers are not into the branding. They’re more individualistic.
And I believe in complementing the other shops in town, not so much competing with them”
Cavin added, “My customers aren’t going to Crate and Barrell where they can’t find unique gifts because it’s all the same out there in the national chains. My customers have an appreciation for the artists, and they appreciate that it’s local, made here in the US.”
The 5 Senses is located at 133 West Market Street in West Chester. The phone number is 610-719-0170, and the Web site is www.the5senses.com.