Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 54° Partly Cloudy
A&E >  Books

The geek and the glamour girl go Garland: Business owners revel in district’s friendly vibe, entrepreneurial prospects

UPDATED: Fri., May 7, 2021

Since the Garland District has become the New Hollywood of the Inland Northwest, it’s easy to think cinematically when walking the streets of the funky and fun neighborhood.

For the uninitiated, a pair of films, the comedy-drama “All Those Small Things” and the Western “Boon,” were recently captured on celluloid in the Garland District.

Actor-producer Neal McDonough gushed when asked about shooting scenes for “Boon” in the Garland District last winter. “It’s so cool there,” McDonough said. “It’s a great place to make a movie.”

Perhaps the next production should be titled “The Geek and the Glamour Girl Go Garland.” It’s based on a pair of Spokane lifers, shop owners from other parts of town, who relocate to the Garland District for new adventures and prosperity.

Hulking comic-actor Brian Posehn (“The Sarah Silverman Project, “The Big Bang Theory”) would nail Nathan Huston, the towering owner of Giant Nerd Books. Posehn just has to dial it down a bit to approximate the low-key proprietor.

Secret style icon Linda Cardellini (“Freaks and Geeks,” “Dead to Me,” hey, Primetimer says so) was born to play Tamra Brannon. The tall, charismatic and stylish hockey mom rocks recycled jewelry, which artfully complements the sleeve of tattoos that adorn her left arm.

The two new neighbors who seem worlds apart discover that they both love riding Harleys and share an affinity for the arts and a neighborhood on the rise. Until a script is completed, Posehn and Cardellini will work on other projects.

Huston, 53, and Brannon, 44, who opened their shops within a week of each other last month, are focused on their new digs. The former is ecstatic about his move since his new space is almost four times larger than his Monroe Street shop.

“I needed the room,” Huston said. “I had been on Monroe, just south of Broadway, for seven years, and it was time. I needed a new space for the last four years.”

Huston was looking for something downtown but was priced out. He found space in the East Valley but balked at the move. “I’m a downtown loyalist,” he said. “I decided to stay Central-ish.”

The Garland District vibe won over Huston. “It’s a great place for a business,” he said. “There’s lots of foot traffic here. It’s a perfect place for Giant Nerd.”

Huston feels that way even though Booktraders is shouting distance from his shop. “Some people wondered if we were going to butt heads, but we’re on different ends of the book spectrum,” he said. “We’ll be good for each other. It’s double the opportunity for readers.”

So far, so good for Huston. Business has been brisk in his shop, which normally sells quite a bit of Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood and Hunter S. Thompson. “People come in here, and they buy eight or nine books,” Huston said. “And now I have plenty of space to put up more inventory.”

About 20 years ago, the West Central resident uncovered a copy of “Amazing Spiderman, Volume 1” at an estate sale. “I held on to it for a bit, but I sold it for $2,200 because I wanted to buy a hot rod.”

Brannon, who owns Outlaw Woman, can relate since she has invested in her hog, which transports her home to Five Mile Prairie. The renegade single mother of two teens, who owns a shop with a team of artisans who create jewelry from scrap metal and leather goods, is thrilled about the move to the space that was once Beerocracy.

“There is so much potential in the Garland District,” Brannon said. “I love the car cruises, Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle and Fergusons (Fountain Cafe). I love the revivalist feeling in the Garland District, and I want to be part of that.

“I owned another company (Buffalo Girls) under a different name (in West Central). I loved it, but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the Garland District. I love that people from the community just come in and say ‘good afternoon.’ I’ve been overwhelmed by the community support.”

It helps that the dynamic artist and entrepreneur has the right attitude. “There’s so much negativity and doom and gloom, and I’m not about that,” Brannon said. “I would like to add some light. I’m all about taking a chance. I never took the safe route.”

The bio-chem major at Washington State was on a secure career path but followed her heart and decided her vocation was art. “I’ve never taken the safe route,” Brannon said. “I always opt to blaze the trail. I believe the universe shows up for risk-takers.”

Brannon probably spared countless folks flat tires since she follows her passion. “I go out and pick up rusty pieces of metal on the road, and that makes me as happy as a clam.”

Chris Pitotti, who owns Pitotti Coffee, is enjoying his neighbors since also opening last month. “Everyone I’ve met here is great,” Pitotti said. “It’s a great place to shop.”

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Pitotti, 53, who managed a bank in the Garland District a generation ago. “It’s changed a lot, but some things fortunately haven’t changed,” he said. “Watching the sunset on the Garland District with the neon lights coming up is super impressive.

“The other amazing thing is the Garland Theater. I hope it opens up again.”

If Spokane stays at Phase 3 next month, Pitotti will have his wish granted. “I plan to reopen the Garland Theater in June,” owner Katherine Fritchie said. “It all depends what the state says regarding what phase we’re in. I’m very excited to see customers again.”

It’ll be too soon to screen “The Geek and the Glamour Girl Go Garland,” but perhaps Fritchie can offer ”All Those Small Things,” which was shot in Spokane, including the Garland District, just before the pandemic and debuted last month at the Seattle Film Festival.

“That would be cool if it’s possible,” Fritchie said. “I’m just excited about the Garland District opening up again and being revitalized. It’s a great time for us.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter

Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.