The Blackwater Trading Co. store, which opened in November, is a long-term dream of Carola and Luke Filmer.
Luke Filmer gained an international reputation for his fiberglass, three-dimensional fish sculptures. Now, his art has expanded and is part of the gallery store he owns with his wife, Carola. The store features the fish as well as artists from across the Pacific Northwest.
It began with a roster of 16 artists, Carola said, and now it’s expanded to more than 30. Those artists are beginning to design items specific to the store. Part of that is Luke’s influence as both artist and owner.
“I’m the artist whisperer,” Luke joked.
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The interior of the store is designed to be local; all the trees used inside were felled from the Filmer’s property before being stripped of bark and turned into posts and cash register wraps.
The Blackwater Trading Co. business began in 1998 and built its reputation through sale booths, word of mouth and online sales. The dream of a store was always in the back of the Filmers’ minds.
Then, last July, Carola saw a for sale sign on the Pioneer Way business that once was home to the Mustard Seed florist. It was a spot they had always had their eye on, due to its trading post feel.
“We always called this building ‘our store,’” Carola said.
So the Filmers dug out and dusted off the old vision board they put together for a gallery store in 2007 and decided to make it a reality.
The fiberglass art pieces are inspired by Filmers’ love of fly fishing.
“I’ve been a fisherman all my life,” Luke said.
The fish in the store are native to the Pacific Northwest. The company gets its name from the Blackwater River in British Columbia, also a historic trading route.
“The Kings and the Steelheads are my most popular,” Luke said. “Those I’ve caught so I know what they look like up close.”
Now that many orders come through the Internet, Luke is making fish he’s never caught before. Orders come in from New York, New Zealand and South America.
For those that admire the fish sculptures online, the new store is a great way to see the pieces in person.
The store is located at 7706 Pioneer Way, Gig Harbor.