BANDON – In 2003, Devon Matsuda and Stan Denys were ready to retire.
“Out of all things you would like to do, what would that be?” Denys asked Matsuda, who answered, “A boutique and a gallery!”
And that's when it began: The search for the perfect place to live and to find a building to house their new adventure.
At the time, they couple was living in Las Vegas where Matsuda was working at Ann Taylor and Denys was working as a contractor for American Builders. Matsuda had just recovered from surgery for stage 3 melanoma and didn't know how long she'd have before the cancer reared its ugly head again.
“That's when Stan asked me what I'd like to do,” Matsuda said in a recent interview. “He said, 'Let's do it!”
While Matsuda continued to work, Denys decided to fly to Oregon and check out buildings. The couple had just been to Ireland and saw photos of the Oregon coast and marveled at the resemblance. They almost landed in Cannon Beach, but couldn't locate a suitable building. In Florence, Denys met an artist who recommended Bandon as a good place to start a business.
“Stan didn't know where Bandon was, but drove here and this building had a for sale sign,” Matsuda said. “He sent me a photo and said I had to come out and look at the building.”
“It's got your name all over it,” Denys told her.
Designer at heart
Matsuda grew up in the San Francisco area and has been working in design her entire life in different fields. She's been an art director for a magazine, worked in advertising, belonged to a civic arts association and worked in and ran a couple of galleries. She also is a painter.
Her paternal grandmother taught her how to sew.
“She was incredible, she could sew anything,” Matsuda said. “The first thing I ever made was a purse. I was probably about 7.”
For 18 years, Matsuda was a single mother of three children – two boys and a girl. She lived across the street from a woman from Columbia who was a tailor. The woman would watch the children so Matsuda could work as a waitress, hostess and bartender. She taught Matsuda how to make tortillas.
“Times were tight,” Matsuda recalled.
The woman also helped her with her sewing.
“As long as I can remember I've had a flair for design. It's just a natural thing for me. I've always been interested in clothes and in high school made my own clothing, using my own designs,” Matsuda said.
When the children were in high school, she met Denys at a community college PhotoShop class in Las Vegas.
“I'm a big believer that you create your reality,” Matsuda said. “I willed someone wonderful like Stan to be in my life.”
The couple married and Denys eagerly took on the role of stepfather. The kids loved him. The couple now enjoys spending time with their five grandchildren.
With the idea of one day having her own boutique, Matsuda took the job at Ann Taylor to learn how to become a business owner.
“I knew how to pull myself together, and that's what got my feet in the door,” Matsuda said.
“One of the things I learned at Ann Taylor was that if the customer was younger, I almost always had something for them, but if they were older, more curvy or taller, it would be a bit harder,” Matsuda said. “I knew when I had my own store, I'd have something to fit them, no matter their size, because I wasn't going to be the one to turn them away.”
In 2004, the couple purchased their building in Bandon-By-The-Sea and moved here in 2007.
After moving to Bandon, the couple did nearly all the renovation needed to transform the building into the space they envisioned, with the help from the original builder, Mike Deets.
In June 2007, Devon's Boutique opened.
Ten years later, the boutique has gained a reputation as a store with high quality, unique and stylish clothing. Matsuda and Denys have become involved in the Chamber of Commerce and in the community, always donating to the many area fundraisers. They also take advantage of the local golfing opportunities.
Matsuda's goal is to make the shopping experience for women a delight rather than a chore.
On the front door of the bright yellow building hangs a store hour sign with the open hours ending in "ish." upon entering the boutique, shoppers find themselves surrounded by displays of colorful, stylish clothing in array of touchable fabrics and textures.
On any particular Saturday, the shop is bustling with women perusing the selections. Each customer is an active participant in her shopping experience, alongside Matsuda.
As selections are made, the usually anxiety-ridden step of trying on the chosen pieces begins. However, there is a different mood around the changing rooms at Devon's. Instead of the quiet fretful time spent inside a mirrored box, each shopper opens the door and steps back into the store so they can show off the finished look.
Everyone stops what they're doing and turns to see, nodding approvingly and even oohing and aching. This is a group effort – even though few in the store even know each other. Matsuda has a final look-over, adding a scarf, bringing over a smaller size or a more flattering cut. The end result is a feeling of sisterhood, an uplifting morning spent among friends – if only known for that hour.
Matsuda's eye for detail, exacting standards for quality and craftsmanship are apparent in every item in the boutique.
“I love when someone comes in and looks like they are not having a great day,” Matsuda said. “I love getting them to laugh and feel good. Sometimes when you find yourself in the dumps and then find something fun to wear, it makes you feel better. It can put you in a totally different mood.”
Matsuda has many loyal customers from Bandon, the South Coast and all over Oregon and the West Coast, including a 92-year-old woman who only buys her shoes from Devon's, and others who come to shop regularly. Often, new customers learn about Devon's through word of mouth.
“I like knowing they can come to me because I'm their friend and I'll have something to make them feel good,” Matsuda said.
After 10 years, Matsuda still loves coming to work – a place where she spends many hours.
“The store gives me purpose and I need it,” she said. “It's always smiling when I walk through the door and I always thank it when I turn out the light.”
“We are grateful for everything – for our community and the love we've received and the friends we've made over the years,” she added. “We're delighted to be here. We love it.”
Devon's Boutique is celebrating 10 years in business.
Come join Devon and Stan, Eve, Jamie, Linda, Beth and Kim on the weekend of June 9, 10 and 11 at 92 Second St. SE, in Old Town Bandon.
June 9, at 5:30 p.m., the Bandon Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon cutting at Devon's Boutique, followed by cake and Prosecco.
June 10, a trunk show and wine tasting with Eola Hills, and cheese samples from Face Rock Creamery. Wine tasting will be held from 3-6 p.m.
June 11, continuing the trunk show and samples of chocolates from Coastal Mist Chocolate Boutique from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.