ENCINITAS — With eclectic offerings from repurposed boats taking on new life as benches to superb local art, Bliss 101 brings a model of sustainability and the spirit of aloha to its location in the downtown Pacific Station shopping center.
The bustling shop is owned and operated by Helen Zeldes and her husband Peter. Zeldes named Bliss 101 after her mother’s book of the same name about living a more inspired, blissful life.
Much like the shop’s name, many of the items have a story and customers have been known to spend hours lost in the intricate details of the history of various pieces of art, furniture and jewelry. The store shop features more than 100 local artists’ handcrafts and artwork as well as exotic creations from around the world. “It’s not hard to spend two hours in here,” Petra Schulenberg said. “If I need a gift for someone or if I know there is a new shipment coming in I’m here.”
Besides the distinctive retail experience, Bliss 101 serves as a gathering space for many customers. “I’ve come in to hear live music, to make jewelry from old material I brought in and just to say hi,” Beverly Masters said. “I think there’s a certain quality to the place that you don’t find very often.”
Zeldes is satisfied when her customers feel a connection to the shop. “(Bliss 101) is about more than just a place to shop,” she said. “It’s really a place where people can come and experience community.”
Trish Haskell, who’s worked at the shop for several months, loves the atmosphere. “It’s just fun to work with all of the artists, to be so close to the ocean and to see your neighbors coming in,” she said. “It changes all of the time. It’s a new experience with the design and layout on a constant basis.”
In fact, contents of a new container were unveiled on Sept. 30 at a reception for loyal customers. The unique goods included repurposed Indonesian Boat Furniture, new wood panels, paintings and even didgeridoos, long wood trumpet like instruments from Australia. “I absolutely love these pieces,” said Belle Pershing, a first-time customer.
Zeldes carries work from regional artists and jewelry designers, as well as fair trade, sustainable items from Indonesia and other far-flung locations. The end result is a visually enticing space where the likes of David Lloyd, Wade Koniakowsky, Clarke Little, Susanna Ball and Heather Brown grace the walls of the 4,000 square-foot store. Zeldes calls it a “stylish, fun, and funky” aesthetic. “This is an amazing place and it just keeps taking on a life of its own,” Zeldes said as she looked around her crowded shop. “I love it here.”
The most recent incarnation of this spirit is the “Fall into Bliss” lineup with an event on Oct. 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. featuring artists that draw their creative inspiration from the ocean.
In addition to Oregon-based painter Spencer Reynolds, local photographers Jordan and Deb Hetrick will be on hand to showcase their latest works.
The world-renowned Kalama Brothers will entertain the crowd with their signature style of contemporary Hawaiian music.