While Valentine’s Day is a fine time to waggle your eyebrows at a romantic crush, there are other forms of love worthy of celebrating too. That’s the thinking behind Lovefest, a weekend event organized by Pioneer Square’s Fruitsuper design shop — an opportunity to enjoy desserts, mimosas, music, and a ceramics-painting popup with whomever you happen to feel close to.
“We’re celebrating more the non-traditional than romantic love,” says Fruitsuper cofounder Sallyann Corn of an event that’s really a collaboration among numerous Seattle small businesses: Pancita will bring “Mexican-ish” baked goods, Foundry Vineyards will supply the adult beverages, Pigeon Toe has paint-your-own ceramics, Monica Dimas has assembled a playlist, and artist Michael Doyle will display new paintings and hand-painted valentines.
Lovefest is a communal effort, and one that reflects the Pioneer Squareish spirit that helped get Fruitsuper and their neighbors through the pandemic.
Fruitsuper began as a little designed studio, started by Corn and Joe Kent in 2008. They make modern-looking minimalist house goods: Soap dishes ($20); trivets ($48); book ends ($32).
“Our plant sticks have always been a good seller,” Kent says.
But as is the case for everyone, the pandemic has weighed heavily on their business — particularly since they moved into their current space in September of 2019.
“Honestly, it was the best and worst time to have a retail brick-and-mortar,” Corn says. “If we’d opened at any other time we’d have done business-as-usual. … We had to get really creative about how to connect to the community and stay connected in general.”
The locally-owned businesses of Pioneer Square are known for being tight-knit, and Corn and Kent were pleased to find neighbors frequently stopping by to check in. When the storefront was boarded up, Fruitsuper hired artists living nearby to paint ever-changing murals on the outside. “We’d be out there painting at night and people would walk by and talk while we were painting,” Kents says, and Corn adds, “it feels like a real actual neighborhood.”
With King County infection rates are still high, Fruitsuper is taking a cautious approach to their Valentine’s Day Lovefest this weekend: Occupancy in the store will be limited, a policy that in the past has led to a line forming outside that store that turned into an impromptu socially-distanced hangout of its own. Saturday and Sunday are both expected to be warm, so the store’s neighborly vibe will likely spill out onto the sidewalk once again, reminiscent of the collaborative murals painted by neighbors.
Warm-weather gatherings like these, drawing a crowd to comfortable, healthy fresh air, will likely be a source of great relief all around Seattle this spring. Or as Corn puts it, “bringing the inside outside.”