Berzelius unfolded a red and black striped blanket, then a gold
and cream one patterned after one worn by the famous chief of an
Oregon Indian tribe.
Linda Carlson and sister-in-law Valerie Carlson studied which one
best matched the upholstered footstool from Linda's winter home
in Scottsdale. It didn't take the pair long to choose not one but
three Pendleton blankets in different designs to take home from
Arizona's only store owned by Pendleton Woolen Mills.
been looking for a Pendleton store for a long time," said Linda
Carlson, who regularly buys the colorful wool blankets to give family
members and finally found the Old Town Scottsdale store through
a tourist brochure.
Berzelius, a former commercial designer and art history major, helping
the Carlsons was another chance to sell his favorite items in the
get tourists who just want something Southwestern to take home with
them to people wanting to decorate," he said.
40 different patterns and a history to each, the blankets famed
for their Native American designs are coming to the forefront this
year as the Scottsdale store and Portland, Ore.-based Pendleton
celebrate the 100th anniversary of Pendleton's Indian trade blankets.
store, on First Avenue west of Brown Road in Old Town Scottsdale,
attracts tourists as well as blanket collectors, manager Helen Noplos
said. The blankets are a big part of business at the shop, which
also sells Western wear and men's and women's clothing from the
venerable Pendleton brand.
blankets are more of an investment piece because of the history
behind the ones we have," Noplos said.
Americans also shop the store, she said, because over the generations
Pendleton blankets have become a strong family tradition. Blankets
are given for graduations, weddings, funerals, ceremonies and other
started making blankets in 1909 when C.P. Bishop and his brothers
opened a woolen mill in Pendleton, Ore. Native Americans were the
Pendleton mill's first customers, buying blankets for everyday use
and for their exchange value.
company says its bond with the tribes grew as early designers learned
about their customers' mythologies and design preferences and incorporated
them in their works. Pendleton's jacquard looms, which allow more
complex designs than conventional looms, made the designs stand
out with detail and vivid colors.
first entered the retail arena in the 1920s when it took over a
failing shop in Chicago's Palmer House, said Bob Christnacht, manager
of the company's home division. In 1954, it accepted Walt Disney's
invitation to open a store in Disneyland's Frontiertown, closing
it in 1990 when Walt Disney Co. wanted its own stores in the theme
company's retail strategy broadened in the 1980s when department
stores were consolidating and Pendleton wanted to reach underserved
areas, Christnacht said.
Scottsdale store opened in 1996 and is one of 50 company-owned Pendleton
stores in the country.
store is customized to the area, and Scottsdale has a huge collection
of blankets," Christnacht said. "It is one of our biggest
Arizona store's customers also match up with Pendleton's core demographic
of upper-income shoppers who value quality, longevity and traditional
style, he said.
company still weaves its wool at its mills in Oregon and Washington
state, and it still makes its blankets in the United States, Naplos
Scottsdale store plans events throughout this year to celebrate
April, it will hold a blanket-signing with Jim Babbitt of Flagstaff,
whose family's trading posts across Arizona have carried Pendleton
blankets since the beginning. Pendleton asked Babbitt to help design
the 2009 release for its Legendary blanket series, and "Shared
Spirits" will debut April 1.
excited because it has Arizona history behind it," Naplos said.
"He did a great job of telling not just one tribe's story but
store also plans Mother's Day and Father's Day promotions. A September
event will celebrate the relaunch of the '49er Jacket, a patch-pocketed
wool shirt jacket for women that swept suburbia when it was introduced
Your Family Story' contest
mark the 100th anniversary of its Indian trade blankets, Pendleton
Woolen Mills is holding a "Tell Your Family Story" blanket
company is inviting families to submit short essays telling
their family's unique story and history.
winner will receive a Pendleton-designed blanket based on the
story and patterned after Indian trade blankets.
information is available at www.pendleton-usa.com and in Pendleton
are due by April 30. The winner will be announced by May 30.