Pam Blondin chuckles as she points out one of her favorite greeting cards in her downtown Raleigh store, DECO: “If only I would have checked myself.” — Guy who wrecked himself. The store is filled with hints of Blondin’s irreverent sense of humor — she often picks items based on their ability to delight, if not create laugh-out-loud moments. “I want Raleigh to have the kind of store that I like to seek out when I travel,” she says. “Offbeat, funny, edgy, artsy stuff that you can only get in that city.”
Beyond sparking joy, merchandise here also underscores DECO’s mission — to be local, unique, and smart — by showcasing area artists and makers. Blondin has a longstanding relationship with Raleigh graphic designer Julie Schmidt of yellowDog : creative, with whom she collaborated on the custom Raleigh skyline design that appears on mugs, T-shirts, and key chains. Ella B. Candles, a Charlotte-based soy candle company, created scents named after Raleigh neighborhoods like Cameron Park and the Warehouse District. Even foodie gifts are hyperlocal, like Escazu’s bean-to-bar chocolate and The Pit’s barbecue sauces.
Prior to opening DECO in 2012, Blondin ran nonprofits for 30 years, and that mission-driven mentality has stuck with her. She built the city’s first “parklet” with NC State College of Design students, transforming parking spaces outside the store into an art installation, and she commissioned a local artist to paint the city’s first sidewalk mural. Everything Blondin does speaks to her goal to make downtown Raleigh a more vibrant place to live and work — and to share some laughs along the way.
207 South Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27601