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Store Tour

Store Tour: Hammer and Spear

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This store, Hammer and Spear, is on the newer side (2 years old) but it’s certainly become already a staple for us vintage lovers – a good source of the juice for us addicts. It’s curated so well, full of BEAUTIFUL vintage pieces or well-selected newer items and there is a variety of price points – smaller gifty items that you can kinda grab and go and then obviously special, more high-end furniture as well. They’ve recently expanded to a larger store and I highly recommend you spend a day down in the Arts District and check these two and their pretty things out. Enjoy.

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Hammer and Spear, Downtown Los Angeles
Owners: Scott Jarrell and Kristan Cunningham

1. How long have you been in business and how did you get started?

We just celebrated our two year anniversary! Opening a shop was always our retirement plan…we just did it a few decades earlier than we planned. We live in the Arts District and were — and continue to be — inspired by the rebirth of this incredible neighborhood and it’s residents. Not being participants in its’ growth was something that we would always regret, so we jumped in! We’ve always been collectors – fancy hoarders really – so we started buying aggressively, using vintage as the core inventory and slowly padding with key lines that would become our staples.

2. Why did you choose this location to open your business?

We live just a few blocks from our shop and have always thought this building was the most beautiful in the Arts District (it’s also where Jim Halpert went to work when he left Dunder Mifflin, at least from the outside). The space that we started in is tucked inside the lobby and we worried that it would be hard for people to find (plus, there’s still no foot traffic at this end of the block — we’re waiting on One Santa Fe and the Metro to bring that) but it only added to the “you have to be in the know” vibe, and our customer base became die hards. We’re very lucky and very grateful for that, because it allowed us to truck along for the two years it took to acquire the adjoining space with all of the street frontage and windows.

3. Where did you get your name from and what other names did you consider?

Some husbands call their wives Sweetie or Honey. Mine calls me Hammer or Hammertime (hence the full forearm size hammer outline tat… true love) . I’d like to say he only does this on occasion, but truth is, I can’t remember the last time he called me Kristan.  My last name is Cunningham, so it started there, but it’s also because I’m the handy one. When we were trying to settle on a name, we wanted to convey that we were a design firm as well as a retail space and wanted to incorporate our names in an unobvious way. We knew Hammer would work for me because of the build aspect (and because hammers are badass) and one morning while researching Scott’s family crest, I learned that Jarrell means “brave with spear”. Eureka! Our business cards now read “Hammer and Spear- Builders and Hunters of Lovely Goods”.

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4. How would you describe your store’s style aesthetic?

Timeless, masculine, classic, comfortable. We encourage people to really use the space, to put their feet up on the coffee tables, and to sit on the sofas and around the fireplace for as long as they like. Since most of our inventory is vintage, it’s already been broken in, and we believe wholeheartedly that stepping into our world should feel like coming into our home. That if you’re considering buying a piece of furniture, getting to know it in a comfortable context is key. Taking the leap on the perfect sofa or pair of chairs takes some people three or four visits, and that’s ok! We’ll give ’em a beer every time.

5. What types of items are your best sellers? (i.e. brands, specific pieces, etc.)

Santa Maria Novella potpourri and burning papers are daily sellers as well as Delphonics pens. The entire line of Allegheny Treenware, but specifically the Sipping Spoon- people love the clever design and price point- it’s the perfect gift. We also sell Good Worth keys daily as a great housewarming, or hostess gift. It’s the perfect thing for someone who literally has everything… a sick house key shaped like an all seeing eye takes them to a whole new level of buttoned down radness. And always, our Arts District Printing Co. prints. Our audience for them has not quieted since the day we met Jonathan and brought them into the shop. We just launched a new collection and they’re my favorite ones yet.

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6. What item do you have in the store now that you would want to have in your home?

Aesthetically, conceptually, practically, literally- from every direction, Hammer and Spear was based on our own home. Would this look good in our kitchen? Would we want to receive this as a gift? Would we actually use this? Would we actually spend x for x? Do we REALLY love this? If not, it doesn’t go in the shop. No matter how much we like the maker or designer.

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7. What have you been inspired by lately? (colors, styles, themes, locations, etc.)

Herve Van Der Straeten.  The sculptor Jose Luis Sanchez who I just discovered,  Uri Davillier- not only for what he’s doing with glass, but the new ways he’s thinking about electricity as a whole. Collaborating with him on lighting is on a whole other level.

8. Where do you mainly source your items from?

For vintage, Scott and I make trips to the East coast to see our families and use their garages as storage and wrapping/packaging facilities. We rent a van and drive up and down the coast and then send everything back via Greyhound.  Throughout the year, we try to supplement with smalls that we acquire on quicker buying trips that we can take over the course of two or three days.

For the new lines, we carry as many Los Angeles designers as we can – Arts District  based ones when possible. We’re very lucky that so many of these relationships happen organically – often we meet through the shop. We don’t really bring many lines in and out. We don’t throw our net wide but we throw it deep. When we love a line, we go all in. We’ve been carrying many of our staples since the beginning – Santa Maria Novella, Life Stationary, Merchant and Mills, Murchison Hume to name a few. With Grown Alchemist – a fantastic skincare line we just started carrying – we didn’t bring in 5 sku’s, we brought in the entire collection. We’re not going to tell you that this is a line that we love and believe in and then sell you on another “amazing” product next season.

9. What trends, if any, are you tired of?

Talking about trends.

10. What stores do you shop at?

Tortoise on Abbot Kinney will always be my store crush. Our neighbors are all slaying it: Alchemy Works, Poketo, Apolis, 12345 and Woo each bring a piece to our neighborhood pie that fills me up. Happily, I rarely have to leave my block to shop. Hours before our grand reopening party last week, we were outfitless, but we went to 12345 and we hosted fully clothed!

11. Do you have any plans to expand your inventory?

We just expanded the shop space and doubled in size, so we’ve brought in quite a few new lines and are continuing to add to the roster. Sabin is an LA based designer who just launched his first furniture collection and we’re thrilled to have his beautiful pieces on the floor. We also have the work of (wh)ore haus designer Meyghan Hill, whose furniture is as sexy as she is. I’m crazy excited about two new ceramicists – Maryam Riazi and Jonn Coolidge. And we also have a rotating inventory of Woven Accents rugs, which have made the shop feel so yummy.

12. What would your one piece of advice you would give to small businesses

You are only as good as the team you build around you. Build strong and build cute.

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Hammer and Spear is located in the Arts District, downtown. Head on down and tell them we sent ya.

All photos by Jessica Isaac

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  1. what a beautifully cool shop! i am loving this series.

  2. Lovely! On my must visit list for my next trip xx

  3. I’m surprised there’s no mention of Emily’s & Kristan’s shared HGTV past! Kristan used to be one of the hosts for Design on a Dime. A lot of the builds she helped come up with were genius.

    1. I am so glad you posted this mcninja. I was staring at her photo going, “I know that I know her.” Was driving me crazy.

      1. Me too!! I knew she looked familiar!

        1. HA!!!!!!! I totally forgot about that connection!

  4. Wow! I remember them from their house renovation in I think DIY magazine many years ago. Then they had a great home makeover article in the LA Times. She used to be a host of a show, I think Design on a Dime, but I always loved her aesthetic she used for her own home. So great to see them doing so well. The shop is gorgeous, but I think probably out of my price range. So interesting to see people’s transitions over time, as they are now in the Arts District and totally hipster!

  5. You know how you say we’ll let you know if something gets too much? Okay, too many shopping posts. They’re US-centric, so to me the Target, Craigslist, source shops, indie retailer posts are all the same, and there’s been a lot over the last two weeks. It feels like filler. I have no issue with them when they’re interspersed with meatier posts such as house reveals or design dilemmas solved, or especially when you style a room using Target pieces – that’s such a good way of keeping it interesting (tablescapes = meh). It does look like a lovely shop!

    1. Alright. Good feedback 🙂

    2. I agree with Leila. it feels like filler.

      1. I see what you guys are saying, but I also feel like these posts bring a little variation to the blog. I don’t mind them at all, as long as they’re not all the time — I think they’re interesting. although yes, definitely better if the shore has an online stop as well!

  6. An amazing store, just wish I lived nearer…a bit far to go for a shopping spree from England. Really missing your ….four ways posts….

  7. This is such a cool series. I can’t wait to see what stores are featured next!

  8. I NEED to go to this store, but I live all the way in Chicago! I’d also love to hear where Kristan got that white dress = love.

  9. I find it boring to read about a shop I can never visit (and probably couldn’t afford anyway). But I think the interview format has potential for providing posts when you don’t have a big design reveal. I am not sure what type of interviews would work best on your blog, since ultimately we all come here to see examples of your incredible style…

    Maybe you could do client interviews? It would be cool to hear how the design experience was from their side, sort of a behind-the-scenes thing. Or maybe readers who were inspired by you could send in pics of their spaces and how you influenced their choices. Or maybe interviews with people that have inspired you?

    Also, I would love an update on the family shelter, even if it is just a couple sentences at the beginning of an unrelated post.

    Keep up the great work!

  10. Loved photos from this store. Even if I can’t shop there, it provided inspiration for finding similar finds where I live.

  11. I’m on the fence about the shop posts. On one hand I find them boring because I never buy anything from shops like these. They definitely do find beautiful things but in my life I like to be the one doing the finding. I’m just bored when I walk into a great store that has done all the fun/hard work for me. Not to mention $$$$$!

    But on the other hand I love them because they inspire me. I could see myself opening a shop like the ones you feature. I think what makes the difference between boring and useful are the interviews. I wouldn’t read them without the interviews and I think I’d like to see even more interviews in your other posts.

  12. I need to visit this store! It’s a must for me the next time I take a trip to the area.

  13. I like this series!! I think its so interesting to see where you shop and pull inspiration from, and I love hearing their stories. It’s cool to see shops other than what I could see in my own neighborhood, and if I did live in LA, I would think it was cool to find new stores to shop, even if it’s just eye candy shopping. Thanks for your hard work with these posts!

  14. You can order from them online. My daughter works for this team and they just finished an amazing house in Topanga Canyon.
    I loved Kristan when she was on Design On a Dime. She has such innovative ideas.
    We had a chance to see the shop in January. Tons of fun.

  15. Emily, dont stop the shopping posts. I love them. To me these shops are better than a visit to any art gallery or contemporary museum. Its about whats happening out there, NOW. What better way to hone my design palate, than reading about these stores! I can never shop in them because i live in a different country but who cares. Seeing the pictures (and i look at them in great detail), is worth gold, showing whats happening and influencing contemporary taste.
    I also take note of their names and addresses and they become part of my visit when i am in your city.
    Keep them coming.

  16. I enjoy seeing the stores…so I glance thru the pictures…but I don’t read them because I come to your blog to her your voice, Emily.
    Ps- I feel guilty leaving a less than positive comment when you do so much for us on your blog. I really value anything you post.

  17. I would love to know if they DIY’d the metal shelving in photo 10. Also, I love the color palette (It’s the same as mine) and with all the new palettes highlighting bright light colors, I was afraid mine was sorely out of date. I followed the links to a house tour of their own loft, same palette. I’d love it if you would give us some pointers as to how to pull off this black, wood, iron palette in our own homes, especially if we don’t have a fabulous loft as a background!

  18. This is the most inspiring shop I’ve seen in a long time – very “of the moment” and in-line with other folks in the design world but unique at the same time. Thank you for sharing.

  19. my love for design blossomed when Kristian was hosting DESIGN ON A DIME, she definitely deserves to have her own store and I’m glad you told us about it Emily! THanks!

  20. Thanks as always for the great, informative posts, Emily.
    I just wanted to second Dana’s comments — Kirstan & Scott do really interesting things with black paint and dark colors in both this store environment and their home (which I’ve seen featured elsewhere). I’d love to see a post sometime with Emily’s thoughts on how to effectively use black and dark colors. I get scared with dark palettes that the environment will start to look gloomy, but I see people getting wonderfully dramatic effects with black and dark colors…

  21. Visited this store over vacation. Love the aesthetic. Beautiful design.