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Eve's Leaves: still first in fashion

Eve's Leaves: still first in fashion


SANDPOINT 45 years ago, Marilyn Sabella dreamed of bringing a bit of European style to downtown Sandpoint.

Then as now, the charm of a European boutique is found in the emblematic Eve's Leaves which recently celebrated its 45th anniversary.

It was the spring of 1980 when the lifelong Sandpoint resident took a risk and borrowed money to launch Eve's Leaves, an iconic downtown clothing store and one of the oldest continuously operating local businesses in Sandpoint.

The store's first home was at the rear of the Hunt Building, but that only lasted about 18 months.

In addition to a wine store, a European bakery and a new age bookstore, the addition of Eve's Leaves created an open-concept European ambiance. However, that location only lasted a short time after Sabella noticed a new tenant carrying a deep fryer up the back steps.

Sabella knew she had to “get out.”

As luck would have it, Avco Finance Company was moving out of its office across the street, Sabella purchased its lease, and Eves Leaves was in the process of moving.

Although happy to find a new home for her clothing store, Sabella first had to recreate the unique shopping experience she had built across the street. This meant that the mural depicting Eves Leaves had to be moved from one location to another. Luckily, artist Doug Jones knew how to do it.

Sabella and Jones designed a plan using graphite and tracing paper. Once each line of the mural was copied, the intricate pattern was applied to the walls of the new space.

Sabella remembers well the day people came to help. With pizza, beer and Jones as ringmaster, the task was accomplished.

He would hand you a pot of paint and say: It's dark green, you're the one who makes the stems; it's light green, you will make the leaves; here is a box of yellow, you will make the little dots in the center of the flower, said Sabella.

Soon the repainted mural was finished.

Within two weeks, Eves Leaves moved into its new location at 326 N. First Ave. and still remains there today.

From the beginning, Sabella's theme for the clothing store has been “casual elegance” with an inventory of unique, easy-to-wear pieces. Buying natural fiber, artist-designed clothing made in the United States and Canada is a priority.

“Fashion is about finding the right things to wear that make us feel our best,” Sabella said.

Although she can't imagine doing anything else, Sabella said she's encountered many challenges over the years.

During the economic downturn of the 1980s, Sabella remembers seeing nine small businesses close their doors in downtown Sandpoint. Even despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Eves Leaves has survived.

I’m so grateful to still be here,” Sabella said.

Since the beginning, Sabella said her greatest reward has been the people and she looks forward to those who return at certain times each year. Many, she added, have become close friends and maintain close relationships with those she helps find the perfect outfits.

At one point, this resulted in “care packages” for customers who could no longer come into the store. Customers were calling with clothing requests with custom packages created and shipped.

This was perhaps the first “online shopping”.

Sabella's commitment to customers has inspired a shopping legacy where original customers, who are now grandmothers, bring their granddaughters to find their own special clothes at Eve's Leaves.

In return, her customers are loyal fans, knowing they will be taken care of and get great clothing at a great price.

Taking great care of her clients is Sabella’s priority. Making changes to in-store purchases costs the customer nothing. She wants her customers to have a perfect fit and feel good in their clothes. Clothing can be shipped, orders can be taken over the phone and exchanges are happily accepted, Sabella said. The goal is to ensure that customers are satisfied.

This is what we do, Sabella said.

To help treat its customers well, an extraordinary staff is as dedicated as she is to helping customers feel special, Sabella said.

My employees are the best, she added.

Many people have worked at the store over the years; some for short periods and others much longer. Mary, who has worked at Eves for 32 years, agrees with Sabella.

We have the best customers! I love getting to see everyone when they arrive,” Mary said.

“Eves Leaves never felt like work! We get to look at beautiful clothes and chat with women who are often planning a fun adventure,” Sonja said. “Marilyn trusts us.”

Barbro, who has worked at Eves for 26 years, said Sabella is “not just a boss, she's a trusted friend you can count on.” She is part of the family.

The store's first 45 years have gone by in the blink of an eye, and with the summer season approaching and tourists flocking to Sandpoint, the future looks bright for Eve's Leaves.

I can't imagine retiring,” Sabella said. “Every day I do something related to the store.”

45 years ago, Marilyn Sabella dreamed of bringing a bit of European style to downtown Sandpoint. Then as now, the charm of a European boutique is found in the emblematic Eve's Leaves which recently celebrated its 45th anniversary.




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