About a block south of Ace Hotel is Downtown’s newest neighbor — the carefully curated gift and home goods shop known as Formerly Yes. Appropriately nicknamed “a store for people who want to buy less, but better,” it’s the Historic Core’s newest retail resident and boasts clean, beautiful displays that feature its chic, modern merchandise. Behind the business is husband-wife duo Brad and Jenna Holdgrafer. After a short stint of living on a sailboat, the two decided to open up a boutique that revolved around essentialism, as a means to encourage a (literal) lifestyle of less being more.
“With no building directly in front of us, this space brings in a ton of natural light,” says Jenna about how they chose the location for the store. After having looked at the Arts District, the couple decided on Broadway, known for its history and walk-ability to different areas. Jenna’s retail background combined with Brad’s eye for design brings a minimalist and refreshingly simple aesthetic to the store. While both are in charge of the buying for the store, Jenna handles more of the business side of things while Brad is the merchandiser.
Customers range from guests of Ace to those simply on their lunch break looking to buy a quick gift for a friend. The store’s solid selection of carefully edited books, magazines, and stationery tools make it more than easy to find something. Each item is paired with a clean white note, informing customers of its background and price. Customers can appreciate that the tea kettle they’re about to take home was originally designed by Japanese designer Sori Yanagi in 1950 and is still being manufactured today.
Take one glance around and it’s hard not to notice how everything is perfectly streamlined. The store’s tables, which are custom made from white oak, a resource native to California, are complemented by the lush green planters framing the big, wide windows of the shop. Make it a point to visit on your next free weekend, even if just to escape the clutter of everyday life and be inspired.