When the Northern California wildfires struck Sonoma County in late 2017, Ross and Debra Hunter decided it was time to rethink their California lives. They had founded and operated a shop called Provisions 707 in the area, and although the shop remained intact during the fires, their customer base had largely been displaced. One of their loyal customers had packed up and moved to Kansas City, raving to the Hunters that it was the best thing she ever did. The couple thought it would be a good idea to check out Kansas City as a new place to live and decided to visit St. Louis, too, this past March.
“We just fell in love with St. Louis,” Debra Hunter says, thinking back to that initial trip. During their excursion, they dined at Brasserie in St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood and knew it was the right part of St. Louis in which to start their lives anew.
“I remember saying, ‘We need to figure out how to relocate and open a business here [in the Central West End],’” Ross Hunter says.
In the final days of summer, the Hunters packed up their belongings and moved a few thousand miles across the country to become Midwesterners. Debra Hunter had fallen in love with the set of storefronts along Euclid Avenue and kept her eye on real estate opportunities in the area. When she saw a spot had opened up at 228 N. Euclid Ave. – the former site of faux leather company Fauxgerty, which recently relocated to the city’s Lafayette Square neighborhood – the Hunters jumped at the opportunity to lease the space for their business.
Provisions St Louis opened on Nov. 15, offering the “sights, scents and textures of life’s necessary luxuries.” Visitors to the natural light-filled space are greeted by inviting scents and the warm tones of a record player. Floating shelves display everything from leather carry-on bags to cookbooks, while the other side of the room offers skin care products, alpaca scarves and gorgeous ceramic dishware.
“Something we all have in common is giving – from birthdays to holidays and everything in between, we hope to provide a selection and user experience that exceeds our customer expectations,” Ross Hunter says. “We are a lifestyle store and want to offer the community usable but elevated goods.”
The shop offers brands from around the United States, including many products the Hunters have brought with them from the West Coast.
“We’re bringing our original aesthetic here, but we’re still finding our way with St. Louisans,” Debra Hunter says. “We want to make sure we’re offering things that resonate with our customers.”
One thing the Hunters are big on is skin care for both women and men, so Provisions St Louis offers it in many different forms. Men’s skin care was one of the original focal points of Provisions 707, so the couple knew it was important to bring some of the predecessor’s American-made, small-batch items to the St. Louis shop, as well. Visitors will find brands like California’s Birchrose + Co and Colorado’s Native Nectar Botanicals on the shelves, along with accessories like Timex watches, colorful pocket knives from Santa Fe Stoneworks and vegetable-dyed wallets from Il Bussetto. Tables in the middle of the room display picturesque books like Ian Schrager’s Studio 54 and William Claxton’s Jazzlife. More quirky offerings include Snoop Dogg’s From Crook to Cook (which the Hunters have already had to reorder) and Abby Reisner’s Ranch: An Ode to America’s Beloved Sauce in 60 Mouth-Watering Recipes.
Just weeks after opening, the Hunters got to experience the unrivaled enthusiasm the Central West End has for its businesses with the return of the annual Window Walk. Ross Hunter estimates that he and his wife had a few hundred people through the store on Dec. 8 – with a few returning the following day to re-examine and purchase more goodies and gifts from the shop.
“It was really awesome and fulfilling at the same time,” he says.
In the few months it’s been open, Debra Hunter notes that feedback on the shop has been “so great.”
“We feel strongly about being a brick-and-mortar shop and not selling online right now,” she says. “We really like the sense of community and enjoy talking with people.”
In the coming months and years, the Hunters hope to expand their outreach into the community and start teaming up with nonprofits – something they had done and were passionate about in Sonoma County.
“Right now, everything is so new and fresh,” Debra Hunter says. “We want to know if we’re offering what our customers need. But it’s just been so cool already. I just feel like this is the best place for us.”
Provisions St Louis, 228 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, provisionsstl.com