Meet Your Merchant: The Earth Store, a Nevada City fixture for more than two decades
The Earth Store
Address: 310 Broad St., Nevada City
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Mon. through Sat.
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays
Leea Davis first traveled to Nevada County from her hometown of Ojai in the late ’80s. Her visit was meant to be temporary — she would be taking a yoga teacher training course at Ananda Village.
But like so many others, she fell in love with the region and before long she was back home packing up her things and heading north to Nevada City.
Davis was lucky — she landed a job at her favorite store on Broad Street. The Earth Store suited her sensibilities, as she had spent her twenties leading hikes in the Eastern Sierra and teaching wilderness orienteering. She’d also worked in a variety of outdoor stores and loved poring over maps and reference books, or learning about the latest weather instruments. The job was a perfect fit.
“I’m an outdoors person who loves nature and science,” said Davis. “I used to think to myself, ‘This is the only kind of store I’d want to own’ — it spoke to me.”
After working at The Earth Store for six years, Davis finally got her wish. The owner was ready to sell and Davis was first on the list of potential buyers. In 1999, she was handed the keys to the store and has never looked back.
Shoppers expecting to briefly pop in to The Earth Store should be warned — it’s easy to get drawn in to the broad selection of items, ranging from topographical maps and bird feeders to globes, loupes, knives, not to mention minerals from around the world.
“This is a store for everyone — from kids to grandparents and everyone in between,” said Davis. “Everyone seems to find something. Many of my longtime customers bring their out-of-town friends here. I also recently discovered that we’ve been recommended on the travel website, TripAdvisor.”
The environmental education component to the store is Davis’ favorite, she said. Tucked into its own alcove at the rear of the shop, the children’s section is often filled with young visitors perusing the chemistry sets, bug magnifiers, puzzles, stickers, animal puppets, whimsical backpacks and more. In addition to cooperative board games, Davis also carries a selection of STEM-related products, which cater to young learners interested in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
Popular among adults are the reference books, offering in-depth information on the likes of wildflowers, fossils, insects, mammals, mushrooms, minerals and nearby state parks.
“I love it when people come in and ask about a certain flower or tree they saw — we’ll open up the reference books and try to identify it,” said Davis. “People get excited when they learn about a new species. It’s definitely a passion I share.”
The Earth Store also boasts the largest selection of nature T-shirts in Nevada County, as well as comfortable clothing designed for the casual foothills lifestyle. Brands include Toad & Co, Woolrich and Royal Robbins. Popular among women are the jewelry, sandals made by Naot and Jambu and handbags by Sherpani and Haiku.
Davis emphasizes that it’s important to her to stay up-to-date when it comes to her inventory. She occasionally travels to trade shows where she learns about new products and current trends. All of this could not be done, she said, without her “amazing” employees, Doreen McCammon and Janice Whitney.
“It’s rewarding when I hear people say this is their favorite store,” said Davis. “It’s been 19 years and I’ve loved seeing children come in at age 3 and keep coming in until they’re graduating. We live in an amazing place surrounded by beauty and people want to be out in it — we’re here to help. The best part of my job is definitely my customers.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email Cory@theunion.com.
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