Jennifer Mann sold glue for 35 years. The Californian-born Mann worked for a Connecticut-based company that made adhesives and coatings that cured in a certain spectrum of light, ideal for everything from windshield-crack bonding to dental coatings. Mann moved to Anacortes 14 years ago, but still spent 70 percent of her time traveling for work. During her last five years at the glue company, Mann’s late mother begged her daughter to make a change, “’[The job] is going to kill you,’ she would tell me,” Mann said. When her mother passed away suddenly, Mann finally made a career change. She opened Tides of Anacortes in August 2015.
The store appeals to a wide demographic and a variety of styles. Touches like the nautical-mermaid decor that came directly from her mother’s house and hospitable customer service sets the tone. “My whole idea was to make it feel like you were walking into my living room,” Mann said. On a recent visit, Katie Jensen and Jessica Peterson, two of Mann’s six employees, were busy stocking inventory and greeted customers by name. They also understood the meaning of “just browsing,” giving customers ample space to wander.
Mann’s intention with Tides was always to be “in tune with the community.” Mann chose the store’s name to reflect her personal career change but also to represent the ebb and flow of the community. She explained her bottom line: “As we grow and expand, whatever the community needs, I’ll do.” Putting her words into action, she recently began stocking items like Votivo candles, cute notepads, Anacortes coasters, and other gift items when the town’s go-to gift store shut its doors.
Most of Tide’s inventory is clothes and shoes, and, wanting to appeal to a large demographic, this makes Mann’s inventory choices a “labor of love.” She explained that although it can be difficult when some clothing lines are geared towards a specific demographic, there’s a nice surprise when someone outside that demographic tries on the piece, adds a belt or sweater and looks fabulous.
In addition to choosing a variety of styles and prices, Mann looks for quality garments that will last, are functional and stylish. Take, for example, their selection of Liverpool Jeans. The stretchy, buttery fabric doesn’t bag and sits comfortably at the waist. The Danish line, Masai, drapes beautifully, layers, and travels well.
Mann also tries to bring in new items each season and works on the same principle she enforces in her own closet: bring something in, take something out. The practice helps keep the store fresh. They recently began carrying the Uno de 50 jewelry line, perfect for fans of statement necklaces.
Shoes at Tides are chosen with comfort in mind, like Ilse Jacobsen’s Tulip shoes: cute slip-on sneakers that are meant to be worn all day, can be worn in water, are machine washable, and antimicrobial. Last year Tides sold more than 200 pairs of the style.
Tides also strikes a balance with its diverse customer base. Anacortes has a high tourist population, with visitors often looking for a special memento versus locals who don’t need to be reminded of where they live. Mann won over both with the Anacortes long sleeve tee featuring the geographic coordinates of the store. A year ago, she spotted the tee at an airport and came up with a #WearintheWorld Instagram campaign that encourages customers to post pictures of themselves wearing the shirt on their travels. Customers posted photos from all over the world.
You’ll find something beautiful at Tides, regardless of your style, but that’s not what makes it worth the visit. Mann and her staff are inviting, friendly, and carry on easy conversations. “I love what I do, I have fun every day,” Mann explained, “We joke that it’s like a bar in here sometimes because we’re talking so much.” She’s gotten to know her customers: their styles, their upcoming events, both good and bad, and their stories. Tides is what it is because of those connections. “The people that I have had the honor to meet and hear their stories…that’s what makes it so special. It’s not just a place to shop.”