Gather, The Art of Hospitality, has a beautiful store front window, with a gathering table, always immaculately dressed. You find yourself wanting to have a seat, you find yourself at home. Gather is the perfect place to shop if you enjoy entertaining.
To bring together or to collect. Also defined as to pick or to harvest. Gather is a word that suggests closeness, togetherness and plentiful-ness. Waco has plenty of wonderful things to ‘gather-up’ as well as a place to gather together, in Gather, The Art of Hospitality.
The store mixes traditional southern hospitality, with a bit of a modern aesthetic. Gather is located at 719 Washington Avenue, in between Wildland Supply and Waco Escape Rooms.
What kind of store is Gather? A home store. An entertainment source. A place to buy dishes, glassware, bread boards, and the most beautiful wooden spoons. It is hard to put Gather in a category or a niche. Perhaps Gather is a category in itself?
The History of Gather
Owners of Gather, Jonathon and Sara Martin are not new to entrepreneurship in Waco. Jonathon owns Black Oak Art, a local hand-thrown ceramic store well-known for its mugs and more, and Sara owns Kindred Event Studio, an event and wedding planning service, in Waco.
I asked Sara what the name meant to her, “The name Gather was really born organically as we were dreaming about this store concept. My main thought was I love to bring people together, so the idea of a gathering was on the front of our minds. Also, the idea that we are gathering local artist to produce these items has become a huge part of who we want to be. My dream would be that Gather is a place people walk in and feel at home. They are inspired to stay and enjoy as well as to take things home and are inspired to gather people in their own homes.”
As I said, the table makes you want to have a seat. You feel at home.
“My husband, Jonathan, and I were dreaming about different ways to make his pottery available to more people, and we had this ’ah-ha’ moment, as we were driving around Waco one day. The idea for a store that would feature a line of his pottery-dishes, serving pieces, etc., accompanied by other items that I love to help people entertain at home. It is supposed to be the meeting of my love for entertaining and Jonathan’s talent and passion for functional art.”
Sara expounds on the history behind Jonathan’s business, “Jonathan started Black Oak Art in 2008. He graduated from Baylor, with a B.A. in Studio Art, in 2000. He had been doing pottery and selling it but, it was after we moved back to Waco in 2008 when he really began to focus on making more pottery and selling it.”
Black Oak’s first wholesale customer was Common Grounds, a popular coffeehouse in Waco.
“He makes a hand thrown mug with a hand carved stamp and he sold many to them. Around that time Joanna Gaines asked us to make a mug for Magnolia, with their logo, they would give them to their clients as a welcome home gift after they finished a renovation.” She went on to explain, “He would also do small custom orders and continued to do Common Grounds on a regular basis, but we were in the middle of having our three kids and he was a full-time art teacher in Waco ISD, so all of this was just on the side.”
After Fixer Upper got picked up on HGTV and Joanna was looking to open her store on Bosque again, they started ordering the mugs from us in increasing quantities. From that point until now, it has continued to grow. Black Oak Art is now Jonathan’s full-time job and he now has many people who help produce their pieces.”
As they say, the rest is history.
They do a variety of pieces for Magnolia, which you can buy at the silos and on their website, as well as mugs sold at Common Grounds. A lot of the potters that work for him also make their own pieces and you can buy those at the Black Oak Art Studio.
Gather sells a full line of dishes from Black Oak Art, as well as the famous mugs.
In addition to the Black Oak Art dishes and serving pieces, Gather carries items to make entertaining at home more beautiful and in the process provides a place for local artists to sell their goods.
“We love how collaborative Waco is becoming, all these new businesses really wanting to work together and promote one another.”
Martin enlightens, “One of my favorite things we are doing is recruiting a lot of local artist and creators to make handmade items for the store. All these locally-handmade lines are a collaboration between Gather and the local artist.
Gather offers high-quality, locally-made, artisan goods, such as cutting boards from LINE, napkin rings hand-made from EM Jewelry+Design, hand-sown aprons from Mary Claret, as well as customized pottery from Black Oak Art.
Imagine having your name or logo on a set of dishes hand-thrown in Waco?
Sara also provides everything in her store for a beautifully stocked bar or bar cart, except the wine and liquor, of course.
Gather sells wine accessories and glasses, including my favorite Spanish wine glasses. You can purchase trays, flasks, pitchers, bar sets, shakers for the perfect martinis, funnels, bar glasses, and anything else you need to entertain at home. Many of the items are perfect gifts for any host or hostess, bride and groom.
The glassware she sells is both beautiful and unique. You can’t pick this stuff up at the mall or big box store.
To “gather” other Waco artists, Gather holds workshops in the back of the store, open to the public. Fun-while-you-learn experiences taught by local artists, creatives, and shop owners. Tickets are sold on the website. Everything from wine tasting, to cookie decorating and watermelon workshops, to calligraphy and floral design, to jam-making and weaving.
The small, intimate, workshops Gather holds are meant to help you sharpen your entertaining and hosting skills. Sara is all about her guests enjoying themselves while eating, drinking, mingling and perhaps a bit of learning something new.
And there’s a bonus—Shop while you are at Gather and you receive 10% off your purchase, the day of the workshop you attend.
Martin has a love affair with hosting and entertaining. She loves to throw parties and the store is evident of that love. Gather provides the excuse for her to invite people in. To invite people to gather. Gather will be hosting many small events at the store. Martin involves the store in the popular First Friday Waco events, providing a wonderful spirited drink and hors d’oeuvres.
Lastly, Sara writes a blog about entertaining, on the Gather website. It includes tips and recipes and is a good read.