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Kaill's' new owner comes well prepared for role

Posted: July 3, 2013 - 11:06pm

Colleen Goldrich, who took over ownership of local shop Annie Kaill’s last month, is brand new to the job of running a gallery in downtown Juneau, but her knowledge of this particular business would likely rival that of even Kaill herself. Goldrich has shopped at the store since 1985, worked there since 1999, done the books for the past four years, and is a longtime contributing artist.

Still, she never had fantasies of taking it over; the idea came up just a couple months ago, when she learned owner Darby Abel, who bought it from founder Kaill, was retiring and selling.

“I thought ‘OK, if it sells, who’s going to buy it, and how am I going to feel if I didn’t even give it a shot?’” Goldrich said.

The timing of Abel’s retirement worked in her favor. If the transition had come up earlier when Goldrich’s two children — now 17 and 21 — were younger, she would have likely passed on the chance. She’s also recently reached a point where she feels ready to scale back high-volume production of her handcrafted jewelry line and orient herself to just a few select galleries in Alaska — Kaill’s included, of course.

Though her new role at the store will be a demanding one, Goldrich said in some ways buying the store allows her to focus her previously disparate energies into one place.

“What’s happening is that I’m consolidating all of my efforts,” she said. “I have had my hands in so many different pots. I was making jewelry, and had it in all these stores, I was office manager for Northwind Architects, and did the books here (at Kaill’s). I kind of worked all the time anyway, and this just puts it all into one space. Which is great for me because I’m not so scattered.”

Goldrich said though she doesn’t plan on making dramatic changes to the gallery, which opened in 1978, she hopes to give the place a “face-lift” and work on finding new artists.

“The challenge and the fun of it is thinking, ‘What am I going to do to make it my own but keep it Kaill’s? Because I love Kaill’s, I’ve loved it since the first time I shopped in here.”

Goldrich moved to town in 1985 with her sister, and took an apartment just a few doors away from Kaill’s, in the Gross Alaska building above the 20th Century Theater. Her first job was as a tour bus driver for Gray Line of Alaska. She loved Juneau immediately -- and made some fast friends.

“I turned 21 and flew to Juneau and drove a bus. That’s when my sister and I lived in the Gross Alaska apartments. And the first person I met, I married, and that‘s worked out pretty well.” she said with a laugh, referring to her husband, Ben.

Goldrich began making jewelry in 1991, under the tutelage of her mother in law, Hannah Goldrich. (The women will collaborate on a show at the gallery in August.) She creates jewelry under her own business name, Moondance Design, and sells her work at the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council Gallery as well as at other locations around Southeast.

As an artist herself, she feels strongly about the gallery’s role in promoting artists’ work and giving them a venue for their creations.

“There’s a responsibly, I think, that comes with this gallery, not only to our long-standing artists but just to artists (in general),” she said.

Goldrich said she would like to add more inventory, and perhaps rotate artists to create more room on the floor. She wants to continue the store’s focus on Alaskan artists, while keeping things interesting for the locals. She’s already talked with a handful of people about bringing new work in, including a woman from Eagle River who makes faux fox stoles out of felted wool; a woman who grew up in Haines who makes belts and belt buckles with her husband; and a Kaill’s employee, Lindsay Smithberg, a recent Thunder Mountain High School graduate, who does intricate pen drawings. (Look for Smithberg’s work on First Friday).

Goldrich said in addition to giving a boost to Kaill’s’ inventory, she’s excited to take part in the larger effort to boost the creative energy of downtown Juneau, one she sees as already under way, with the arrival of new businesses such as Grumpy’s and the success of existing businesses such as Shoefly.

“The revitalization effort that is going on downtown is huge. And I think its so important and so exciting for all of us.... There’s some good energy. And I want to do whatever we can to do our part in that.”

For more on Kaill’s, visit www.anniekaills.com.

For more on Goldrich’s work, visit www.moondancealaska.com.

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