White Rabbit/Black Ink opens doors on Main Street
The world of Oregon City's White Rabbit/Black Ink begins just inside the door, with a heightened coffee experience; and then continues into a colorful wonderland filled to bursting with books, gifts and accessories.
Danielle and Rolland Walsh are the owners of the new business, which opened Aug. 19 at 503 Main St.
"Black Ink is a reference to coffee and book ink," Rolland Walsh said, noting that White Rabbit Gifts is the name of his wife's shop that previously was located next to Singer Hill Cafe on Seventh Street.
"I'm a certified children's librarian, so White Rabbit is a fun literary reference to 'Alice in Wonderland,'" Danielle Walsh said.
The building was constructed in 1919 and originally housed the Kwality Cafe and then became The Wheel Tavern for a number of years.
Sense of community
White Rabbit/Black Ink is family run, Danielle Walsh said, adding that her mother and all three of the couple's children work in the shop.
"We put bar stools [in the coffee shop] for people to come in and chat with us and become part of the community," she said. "We created a safe space; everyone is welcome here. We believe in social justice for all."
What Rolland Walsh likes best about the business is "having the chance to meet new people and having conversations."
The coffee shop already has attracted regulars that he sees every day or a few times a week.
"This gives us a chance to share something together and talk to somebody that I wouldn't meet otherwise," he said.
Black Ink Coffee
What sets the coffee shop apart from others is "the highest quality coffee and highly trained baristas," Rolland Walsh said. "We focus on single-origin and pour-overs for a heightened coffee experience."
All products served in the coffee shop are ethically sourced and many are produced locally, the couple noted.
This includes Garry's Meadow Fresh Jersey Milk, from Lady Lane Farm in Mulino, and Bliss Peanut Butter, made in Oregon City.
"We want to support small farms or a single person doing something great," Rolland Walsh said. "I want to make it easy for my employees to sell [products where the owners] are doing something they are passionate about making."
All the coffee served is from Stumptown Coffee, and Walsh sends all his employees to be trained at the company's headquarters in Southeast Portland.
Fresh baked goods come from Bakeshop, a woman-owned establishment in Northeast Portland; bagels are supplied by Portland-based Gabriel's Bakery.
Black Ink offers kombucha on tap or in bottles made by Soma Kombucha, based in Portland.
"Jean-Pierre Parent makes really great, unique flavors with no added sugar, and we're cycling through them all. We have several customers who come in just for the kombucha," Rolland Walsh said.
"Our tea vendor is called B. Fuller's Mortar & Pestle, run by Will Sullivan out of Seattle. He's an amazing herbalist for all our different blends of teas that are sourced from China or India," he said. Sullivan mixes all the botanicals and custom tisanes using no chemicals and no preservatives.
White Rabbit Gifts
Although White Rabbit Gifts is compact in size, the space is chock-a-block with books, literary-based accessories, socks and jewelry and even a children's play area.
"I have more than 300 vendors from small businesses or local artists," Danielle Walsh said.
"I have to like the ethics of a company," she added, noting that two accessory companies in New York donate books to children.
She offers natural home and body products from Thistle Farms, which offers support to women survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction. And one of her sock companies is Mitscoots Outfitters, which gives free socks to the homeless and employs people transitioning out of homelessness.
Danielle Walsh also stocks socks from Milwaukie-based Sock It To Me.
Three of her jewelry companies are based in Oregon City, including Bloom & Grow, Ashley Shanks and Eddie Santos.
Greeting cards are from Portland-based Stonehenge Cards, and magnets with funny sayings or photos of animals are from Badge Bomb, located on Foster Road in Portland.
"I want to help empower people to do what they want to do. A lot of my vendors are students or stay-at-home parents," Danielle Walsh added.
As for books, she and her family members read them all before putting them out on the shelf.
"All the books are hand chosen by me; this is a small, curated collection.
"I have found a sensitive community with vendors and customers; they have been really good to me."
The couple say they are grateful for the support of the community they encountered both during the construction process and now that they are open.
"When we moved, they wished us well and now they seek us out. People thank us for being here," Danielle Walsh said.
Rolland Walsh noted: "I always thought I'd own a business that is mutually beneficial. People would get a lot of value, and I love to serve and hear people say 'This is the best latte I've ever had.'"
"I'm a member of the Oregon City Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Association, and everybody has offered help and goodwill. Everyone on Main Street has been in to see us," Danielle Walsh said.
As for their personal favorites, Rolland Walsh's drink of choice is "a good Latin American pour-over, like Costa Rica's Monte de Oro. It's a beautiful coffee."
And Danielle Walsh's favorite item and one she recommends people consider buying as a Christmas present is "always a book."
She added, "Having books in the home [coordinates] with a child's success in school. You can't have too many books."
White Rabbit/Black Ink
What: Coffee, book and gift shop
Where: 503 Main St., OC
When: 6 a.m.-6 p.m. daily
Contact: Call 503-344-4762