More than a decade ago, two Lodi women formed a friendship over unique, rare, and even quirky hand-crafted home decor items.
Over the years, their personal collections of clay pottery — mugs, masks, vases and artwork, among others — continued to grow, and Lisa Esparza and Cassie Vera decided they wanted to share their love for earthenware goods with fellow Lodians.
After years of scouring boutiques, antique stores, and even flea markets, the two women — both interior designers — opened Earth & Wares Interior Design Services at 13 S. Sacramento St. last month.
“A lot of the stuff in our store is unique hand-made items,” Esparza said. “It’s things that are kind of more nature-inspired. Just things that we love as designers. We specialize in pottery, and we’re trying to look for local potters, local artists, who want to showcase their artwork in our shop. The goal is to bring more people in there to showcase who they are.”
While the shop is a Sacramento Street address, Earth & Wares does not front the sidewalk.
Signage in front of the building — which Esparza and her husband Michael purchased several months ago — directs shoppers through a gate on Sacramento Street and around to the rear.
Behind two large “barn doors,” as Esparza called them, are shelves of clay items for the home, including vases, cookware, mugs, figurines and even pieces of art.
Each piece displayed is one-of-a-kind, at least to the store. Once an item is sold, it will be replaced with a completely different piece of merchandise.
Esparza said inventory changes weekly, because as things go out the door, she and Vera bring new merchandise in.
The two happened to meet by chance, as Esparza owned and operated a consignment shop on Lockeford Street many years ago, and Vera was a regular customer.
“Lisa had a shop in Lodi for a small period of time, and I brought things in to consign,” Vera said. “I felt like there was a special connection there. We loved the same kind of things. So years later, I came into a little bit of money and asked her if she wanted to open something. Then we spent the next 10 years trying to open something.”
When that finally happened four weeks ago, Vera said it was a dream come true.
“We make a great partnership,” she said. “Her vision is unprecedented in my opinion. Her color theory, the way she sees things laid out. And then I come in and try to bring it to fruition.”
Esparza said she and Vera were inspired by the Asian philosophy of “wabi sabi,” centered on the acceptance transience and imperfection, and added each piece of inventory is beautiful in its own right, even if they are not perfect.
“We thought, there’s got to be more people who love this,” she said. “I’ve lived in Lodi my whole life and I haven’t really seen anything like it here locally. So we weren’t sure people were going to like it or not, but so far its actually been really amazing.”
In just its first four weeks, Esparza and Vera have attracted repeat customers who have brought friends and family into the shop.
A grand opening is planned for the first week of June, which will feature discounts and raffle prizes.
Currently, Earth & Wares is open 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.
As the Downtown Lodi Farmers Market runs through September, the shop will be open a little later on Thursdays.
The hope is that once another person can be hired to assist with sales, the shop will be open for a longer period of time.
Esparza and Vera said they would not have been able to open the shop without the support of their husbands.
“The love of (the shop) is because it’s reviving the past, so to speak, bringing in the old and making it new again,” Vera said “It just never goes out of style. And then it has a story behind it.”
For more information, visit the Earth & Wares Instagram @earth_andwares, or call 209-429-7838.
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