Sequim’s Pondicherri (Handprint) is one of the few businesses in town that can say it’s celebrating 25 years of business in the same location as it started.
The Handprint franchise, owned by Pami Singh, his son Kabir Singh and his wife Aishwarya Singh, opened Pondicherri in November of 1993 at 121 E. Washington St., where the shop still operates a retail storefront and wholesale business.
Kathy Greenwald, operations manager of the Sequim store, has been with the company since its inception and says, after 25 years, “I’m at home.”
Greenwald started as office help at the store and now does a variety of administrative, distribution and shipping jobs for the same family-owned company she’s worked with for years.
She says it’s “the friendship that developed with the Singh family” that kept her at the same job for a quarter of a century.
Pondicherri sells a variety of hand-crafted Indian textiles for the home, from clothing to tablecloths to curtains and more.
The company specializes in wholesale products but also sells retail items.
The company is known for its eco-friendly products that use natural materials, predominately 100 percent cotton in its fabrics and clothing, silk in its scarves and stoles and recycled fabric and scraps from production processes.
The business also uses sustainable production methods such as solar heating and rainwater harvesting to treat effluents produced by production. It has a goal of becoming a zero-waste company by 2020.
The environmentally-conscious aspect of the business is what attracted Ariel Ferree, assistant manager and e-commerce manager, to work for the company.
“There’s a really strong impression the company leaves (on customers) with its quality,” Ferree says.
Ferree says there are more than a few customers who buy the same items at the store for years.
When Greenwald first started working at Pondicherri in 1993, she said the business operated out of what is now used as the warehouse portion of the store.
The front part of the store was later developed for retail and small additions were made over the years such as a stage and office spaces. Greenwald’s husband, who also helps with shipping and other miscellaneous tasks,built the add-ons.
Greenwald says the business generally has more customers in its wholesale market — ranging from 600 to 1,000 — which includes a few big fashion brands such as Neiman Marcus.
The wholesale side of the company includes trade shows and printing a wholesale catalogue twice a year featuring Handprint’s products.
The business tried an online catalogue this fall, Greenwald says, and the company aims to create more of an online presence for the future.
“Our goal is to get us out there, both in retail and in wholesale,” Greenwald says.
That’s where Ferree, an e-commerce specialist, comes into play. She says she’s starting to get the business’ proverbial foot in the door to the online world with social media and online marketing.
“In the store you want to touch and feel (the products),” Ferree said. “Now we have to translate that online.”
Greenwald said there has been an overall shift in the retail industry with more products being bought online with the rise of Amazon and other online companies.
“We’ve felt that (shift),” she says.
Celebrating 25 years
Pondicherri will hold a 25-year anniversary party free and open to the public from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24, in conjunction with the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Saturday.
The event will include some refreshments, such as chai tea, snacks, a Henna party, and guests can enter to win a gift basket by spending $50 at the store anytime during November.
For more information, call the store at 360-681-0954 or visit online at www.pondicher rionline.com.