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Stamped with love

Couple behind Peddler's Pack celebrates 30 years of creativity


Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Bernie and Joyce Kurtz are celebrating 30 years of running their business, The Peddler's Pack.Before she set up Peddler’s Pack in downtown Beaverton, Joyce Kurtz tested the arts-and-crafts waters in 1984 by issuing a 32-page catalog of artistic designs made transferable by rubber stamps.

The results proved life-changing.

“The phone was ringing off the hook,” she recalls. “The fax machine was going day and night.”

For a woman who ditched her career as an advertising manager at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer to pursue a passion for arts and crafts, it was all the validation she needed to press forward.

“It was a dream come true,” she says of her and her husband Bernie’s business. “We’d found our niche. We didn’t realize the potential it offered us.”

The red-hot catalog success expanded to bazaars, craft sales and fairs. By 1987, Peddler’s Pack opened its first brick-and-mortar store on Allen Boulevard. Outgrowing that space by 1994, the Kurtz’s found a permanent space for their venture at 4570 S.W. Watson Ave.

It’s there that the couple — along with their extremely loyal and still-growing customer base — have quietly celebrated 2014 for marking 30 years in the paper arts and rubber stamp business. With a vast inventory of stamp designs, dyes, stencils and other arts, crafts, gift-card and scrapbook-making accessories, Peddler’s Pack also offers a popular Friday lineup of classes for those wishing to hone their artistic sensibilities or simply create among friendly folks.Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Bernie Kurtz describes how he makes stamps that he sells at The Peddler's Pack.

“It’s nice to have a craft store in Beaverton. There are so few left,” says Margaret Waldrom, a Beaverton resident who regularly takes the $5 gift-card design classes taught by Betsy Buckel. “I’ve been coming here ever since I’ve known about it, for about 10 years. They’re very friendly. There’s lots of selection, and it’s close to home.”

Bernie Kurtz, who lives with Joyce in the Cooper Mountain area, attributes Peddler’s Pack’s three decades of success to making customers feel like part of the family, while not striving to outdo deeper-pocketed crafting store competitors.

“Very rarely do we lose a customer once we have one,” he says. “And we try not to do what our bigger competitors, like Jo Ann’s and Michaels, do. We leave them alone.”

Long before Peddler’s Pack became a Central Beaverton institution — and the online-based Peddler’s Pack Stampworks turned into a global source of crafts accessories — Joyce operated the Allen Boulevard location as a consignment shop with 100 creative vendors selling handmade gifts.

As with the Gresham native’s switch from ad sales to crafts, one thing soon led to another.

“I taught classes, and we started carrying stamps,” Joyce says. “That started taking over the business, and I became more interested in that.”

The stamp concept continued to click when Joyce met local artist Ruth Ninneman.

“She asked if we’d like her to draw designs for us to make rubber stamps,” Joyce says, “and the rest is history.”

While the business takes a good deal of her time, Joyce, who has four grown children with Bernie, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“You don’t count the clock when you own your own business,” she says. “When you’re having a good time, it doesn’t matter. It’s fun to share in the creativity.”

That philosophy hits home with customers such as Hillsboro resident Jeannie Liggett. She was among several women engaged in a holiday card-making class in the back room on Friday.

“I love it because its very creative, and when you give a (homemade) card to someone, it’s more like a gift than a card,” she says, adding her artistic instincts seem to improve with each class. “The first time I came in here I felt really clumsy, but with each card, if you make a mistake, it’s not really a mistake ... it’s a card.”

Bernie, 71, admits that for him and Joyce, their personal lives are interwoven with their business lives.

That’s not to say he had any inkling the Peddler’s Pack and the stampworks he commandeers would’ve turned into a lifelong commitment.

“When people ask what we do for a living, I say ‘It’s hard to explain,’” he says, embracing Joyce as the two of them giggle at their good fortune. “We’re even still married. It’s an amazing miracle.”

Joyce, who doesn’t envision retiring anytime soon, remains grateful she chose to pursue her creatively fueled dream 30 years ago, not to mention the amazing people it’s led her to.

“We’ve made a lot of lifetime friends,” she says. “I’ve seen their children grow up, and now they’re bringing in their kids. It’s been a wonderful journey.”Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Joyce Kurtz watches customers make Christmas cards in a class offered by The Peddler's Pack.

What: Peddler’s Pack, specializing in art stamps and paper crafts since 1984

Where: 4570 S.W. Watson Ave., downtown Beaverton

Owners: Joyce and Bernie Kurtz

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Call: 503-641-9555

Website: peddlerspack.com

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