((L-R) Cora, Harmony, Tarren and Brian Thomas | Photo Courtesy of Bedouin)
Since its doors first opened in Sisters more than three decades ago, Bedouin has embodied a creative ambiance, inspiring locals and visitors alike with a unique shopping experience. Over the years the store has grown into an iconic business in the small town, a gathering place to shop and connect with friends and neighbors.
For owner Harmony Thomas, Bedouin’s special place in the community’s heart, along with her own personal connection to the boutique, made the decision to buy the business nearly two years ago an easy one. As a teenager, Harmony had worked for founder Janet Brockway, an experience she says was immensely influential.
“There is always a creative energy around Janet, and that was something she brought out in other people,” Harmony explained. “After being at the store with her I would always need to go home and do something really creative.”
Harmony moved from Sisters to Bend and for 25 years worked downtown, where she fell in love with the people and the sense of community.
“I worked at a lot of wonderful, iconic stores over the years, many places that are gone now,” Harmony said. There was no doubt in her mind, therefore, when she learned about Brockway’s decision to retire, that she would buy the store where her journey had begun.
“Every day I am so thankful for the amazing opportunity I have to preserve and carry on this place that has always been in my heart,” Harmony said.
The appreciation goes both ways. It was hard, Brockway said, to let go.
“People are so happy to have Bedouin here, and Harmony has carried it on beautifully. She has a very creative and inventive person in her; she’s colorful and has worked very hard in her life to put that all together,” Brockway said.
Suzie Ramsey couldn’t agree more. Ramsey, who’s been friends with Brockway since junior high school, said she knew Harmony was a perfect match for Bedouin the moment she met her.
“Harmony just waltzed in and the transition has been wonderful,” Ramsey said. “She’s made it her own. It’s a different store, but it’s still Bedouin.”
One of the things Harmony has always appreciated about Bedouin is the focus on carrying clothing for every age, size and shape of woman.
“I want everyone to feel good and look good in their clothes,” Harmony said. “The wardrobe we sell works for teachers, nurses, moms and more. It’s practical and beautiful. One of my goals is to offer quality at a good price.”
She also strives, Harmony said, to carry on Brockway’s tradition of curating locally crafted items as well as global treasures, to ensure the store’s offerings are special and truly unique.
“You don’t see the items we carry in all the other stores,” Harmony explained. That applies not just to the clothing, but also to the selection of home decor, gifts, stationery and especially jewelry, which Harmony has focussed much of her attention on, investing in a selection of local artisan pieces.
Harmony’s passion for local art is especially evident on the wall of the Good Day Cafe. The cafe, which is adjacent to and shares the building with Bedouin, has been transformed from its previous coffee shop status thanks to Harmony’s husband, Brian Thomas. As a chef at heart, Brian recognized the opportunity to join Harmony in the adventure of business ownership, and much like his wife has done with Bedouin, has used his creative vision and lifelong experience to shape a new Sisters destination.
With a breakfast and lunch menu that makes it hard to make up your mind, the Good Day Cafe recently marked its one-year anniversary and has its own devoted customers in addition to many of Bedouin’s regulars who often sneak over for lunch after shopping. The cafe presents a rotating display of local art on what has affectionately been deemed, “the wall.” The display gives local artists an opportunity to show and sell their work for a month, without a commission fee.
In addition to organizing the wall, which is booked through the end of 2020 already, Harmony recently joined the board of the Sisters Art Association as a new avenue to promote the artists in the Sisters area.
“I really am passionate about it,” she said, simply.
The inspired business owner is also passionate about family, and while she admits it can be challenging to own and operate two businesses side-by-side with Brian, together they’ve found a way to make it work. Harmony is home with the couple’s kids, 13-year-old Tarren and nine-year-old Cora, in the mornings, and Brian is home with them in the afternoons. Then they dedicate their evenings to family time together.
“We realize they’ll only be little for so long, so we are really diving in,” Harmony said. And while they may be little, both kids are invested in the family businesses and work with their parents in the summer. “Not all days are sunshine. It’s a lot of responsibility, but we all enjoy it.”