Douglas Design District

On a journey toward becoming its best self

Written by Amy Palser

While visionaries say it might be a couple years before Wichita’s “avenue of creativity” is the pedestrian friendly, trendsetting destination they envision, they’re working daily to make Douglas Design District a better place.

Stretching from Old Town to Oliver, the district is home to over 300 locally owned businesses, including over 40 home and design businesses and more than a dozen eateries, with charming residential neighborhoods peppered throughout.

But organizers of a long-term plan for the district, which they’re calling the 2020 Vision campaign, see an even rosier picture for the historic area. “We see a three-mile, tree-lined corridor of businesses and residences in a warm neighborhood setting, along well-swept Douglas Avenue,” states the Douglas Design District website. “Here you’ll find miles of locally owned stores, trendy shops, cafes and pubs.” They see safety enhancements for pedestrians like medians and extended sidewalks. And they see the district as a magnet for start-ups.

Janelle King knows the district has the right formula for growing and nurturing new mom-and-pops. She started her business, The Workroom, a little over five years ago, specializing in custom drapery and upholstery, but also selling gifts, home goods, and Wichita-themed merchandise.

“I had no idea [when I started my business] what a difference it makes,” she says of being located on Douglas Avenue. “As I’ve gotten more involved in the district and the district has gotten more involved, it’s amazing the impact it has.”

About a year after opening the store, King was asked to join the Douglas Design District board of directors, a volunteer organization comprising business owners passionate about seeing the district grow. Today, King is the board president.

“When I first got on the board, when you said ‘Douglas Design District,’ people weren’t sure what it was. Now it’s recognizable — people know and understand and seek it out for small, local businesses,” she says. “If you look down our stretch it’s nearly all small business owners.”

The district has been around since 2007, but it has gathered momentum in the last few years. Some of the activity generated by the board includes:

The creation of over 70 new murals in the last five years, and even an app to help navigate them. Search Avenue Art Days Mural Map in the app store, and check out the 13 newest murals painted at the end of September.

The stenciled streetscape finished in April that mimics the long-term streetscape plan. “It’s a place holder to stir up excitement and give some visual interest,” King says.

Installation of custom bike racks and the 10-foot-tall painted fiberglass Keepers on Parade.

What the group needs now is community support: folks who will shop, eat and spend time in the Douglas Design District, and who will contact city leaders to express their support for the 2020 Vision campaign.

“We are wanting to build on the momentum, maximize it and see our neighborhood and our neighbors grow and develop,” King says, “and become a real destination in Wichita.”

For more information on the district and campaign, visit dddwichita.com.

Fragrance Fusion

Fragrance Fusion was founded on the concept of providing consumers with top-quality essential oils, perfume oils and unique products for body, bath and home. Founder John Higgins, in working with dementia clients, became aware of the benefits of therapeutic essential oils and an exclusive formula of Himalayan bath salts infused with essential oils.

“Our essential oils come from all over the world,” Higgins says. “Different oils thrive in specific regions where soil conditions, altitude and distillation processes are precise. This provides top-quality oils that will support the best results.” The Menthol Headache Relief and Natural Muscle Relief are top sellers, he says.

With a line of perfume oils for men and women, shoppers can create their own personal blend. Fragrance Fusion shoppers can even schedule a “Create Your Own Scent Event” party with a group of friends. The shop also features body and bath products, candles and unique fragrances for the home.

4719 E. Douglas Ave.
316.272.9259

myfragrancefusion.com

Ferraro Fine Custom Homes / Logan Street Fine Wood Products

Tony Ferraro’s woodworking skills take him to far-flung locations and even tropical destinations, but he’s always happy to be back home at his shop in the Douglas Design District. “I’ve been there eight years and I love it,” he says.

Ferraro owns Ferraro Fine Custom Homes and sister company Logan Street Fine Wood Products. Working with his two sons, Stoney and Tony, Ferraro started out as a cabinetmaker and finish carpenter before venturing into new home builds. Eventually he bought a millwork company, and today he builds custom cabinetry, does residential remodeling and builds custom homes.

Ferraro and his team frequently work in Wichita, but they also find themselves doing specialty projects across the nation, like the 8,000-bottle wine library they just finished in Fort Worth. “We’re just a little mom and pop business, but we’re lucky. We get good clients.”

1824 E. Douglas Ave.
620.488.3117

ferrarohomes.net, loganstreet.net

Designers Expo

For Designers Expo owner Kathy Haines, being located in the Douglas Design District just makes sense. Not only does her business and its 5,000-square-foot showroom fit the design niche by offering residential finishes like flooring and cabinet hardware, but the central location makes it convenient to serve all parts of Wichita.

“We focus on details and customer service; it’s the thing that separates us from the other places,” says Haines, who opened the business in June 2005.

The Designers Expo showroom features the newest in tile, natural stone, hardwoods, custom carpets, rugs and more. Haines tries to be on the leading edge of what designers, builders and homeowners are seeing on TV and online. And if she doesn’t have it, she can get it. Her formula has produced a high referral base and many “regulars.”

“We welcome new folks, and once we get them here we try to keep them,” she says.

1409 E. Douglas Ave.
316.267.1982

designersexpollp.com

Razook’s Home Furnishings

It was during the Roaring Twenties that the dry goods store at the corner of Douglas and Ohio avenues was reborn as a furniture store, and 30 years after that when Ken Razook purchased it for Razook’s Home Furnishings. Today, owner Bob Razook, Ken’s son, says the turn-of-the-century brick building in the heart of the Douglas Design District is still the ideal place for a furniture store.

“We like the fact that it’s a mixed-usage area, with shops, restaurants and people living in the area. With a lot of young people moving in, it gives it a lot of energy,” says Bob, whose shop offers home and office furniture in every style, punctuated by “awesome customer service.”

The fact that being in a building with so much history also means being in a popular shopping district is the icing on the cake. Says Bob, “We like being in a destination area.”

1134 E. Douglas Ave.
316.265.3355

razooksfurniture.com

Traditions Home

Bringing the latest in home design to Wichita is both a desire and a delight for Robin Van Huss and team at Traditions Home. A cornerstone of the Douglas Design District since 1984, the store continues to celebrate the tradition of a beautiful and comfortable home, whether your style is contemporary or classic, transitional or traditional.

“For us to stay at the cutting edge of fashion and design, we travel from coast to coast to find new product and design ideas,” Van Huss says. “It’s hard work, but we enjoy it.”

The 15,000-square-foot showroom features furniture by well-known American manufacturers like Stickley, Sherrill, Vanguard, Century and Wesley Allen. Van Huss is proud to feature recliners by Stressless, lighting by Quoizel and rugs by Karastan. Tradition’s knowledgeable and friendly team of interior designers is ready to help with any home or office design project.

“Our prices are affordable, our service impeccable,” Van Huss says.

3220 E. Douglas Ave.
316.684.2177

traditionsathome.com

 
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