Native American arts and crafts store opens in Scappoose
If you're in the market for authentic Native American arts and crafts items, you're in luck. A brand-new business has opened in Scappoose, along the Columbia River Highway where it meets Columbia Avenue.
The shop, which opened in early October, is called Native American Art, Crafts and Jewelry and it's just a few doors down from Longfellow's Inn.
Don Kincaid and Doreen Johnson Graf take care of the new business, but Kincaid is quick to give Johnson Graf nearly all of the credit.
"Doreen (who is 100 percent Navajo) is a widow and I am a widower," Kincaid said. "That's how we met."
Their friendship started with a simple correspondence.
"We met online, widow to widower," he said. "She came out for a visit — she just loves it out here. She's from the desert. She loves the trees, she loves the ocean."
The two finally decided, after showing off their wares at various Native American events, to bring the goods to their shop in Scappoose.
Kincaid pointed out that Johnson Graf, who has lived in McMinnville, Oregon, and Page, Arizona, has multiple talents including working with Native American beads, bracelets and necklaces.
"She builds all that stuff and she's really good at it," Kincaid added.
"With the Navajo people, grandparents are the ones that really do a lot of teaching," Johnson Graf said. "You have to learn to work with your hands."
Johnson Graf said, "I didn't get to learn how to do silversmithing. I wish I did. But I did a lot of painting, crafts. In second grade, I did a lot of drawing, sketching."
Describing their store, Kincaid said, "Everything that is in our store is 100 percent authentic Native American-made. It's all craftsmanship from the native tribes."
According to Kincaid, "Most of what we have is from the Southwest tribes because Doreen is Navajo. That's where her connections are."
But the store also has authentic items from tribes closer to our area, such as from the Salish tribe.
"We're trying to balance out what we have in the store," he said. "A lot of the things in the store Doreen has made herself."
Items not made by Johnson Graf will display where it was made, the town it was made in and the tribe.
"We have a lot of pottery," Kincaid said. "It's all hand-crafted. It's not pressed into a mold or anything. It's etched, carved and fired."
Kincaid is amazed at the time and effort involved in producing these authentic Native American arts and crafts.
"The craftsmanship of the Native Americans is just mind-blowing," he said.
"We have a lot of art. We have some original paintings from the Hopi tribe. We have our sand art from the Navajo tribe and they're all authenticated," Kincaid said, adding, "Probably 90 percent of the stuff we have in the store is either authenticated by the original artist or Doreen has authenticated it through her purchases through the vendors."
Kincaid describes Johnson Graf's dedication to detail while serving customers at their store.
"I love to watch her when she's working," he said. "Something will catch someone's eye. She'll tell them the backstory behind it. I can't do that — she is honest as the day is long."
"With the customers, I love telling them the stories and meanings of the design," Johnson Graf said. "Every design has a meaning -- every tribe has their own colors, the way they do their colors."
Kincaid is looking to boost his store's visibility.
"We don't have our sign up yet," he said. "We're working with Clark Signs in Scappoose. They've got their challenges with COVID-19, as well. It's frustrating but you just have to be patient these days. Really all we have is a banner in our window. Below it it says, 'now open.'"
Kincaid added, "We've only been here a month and a half," noting he is hoping Johnson Graf can create a Facebook page. "I'm very happy with the results so far. It's all been word of mouth, but it's spreading. There have been people who have been in here two or three different times."
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