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Raga the Drum

Denver’s Newest Concept Store Wants You To Walk to Your Own Beat

When Wallis Jordan moved back home to Denver after studying and working in interior design in Chicago, she looked around at the landscape and felt like it was now a town that has so many creatives and design-oriented people. "I got excited about ways to perpetuate that energy," Wallis says. 

So Wallis began selling items that she’d collected over the past 15 years: versatile styles of furniture, knick-knacks, clothing and lifestyle accessories from retailers, local artisans and designers, estate sales, furniture sources, and even a resource that sells her vintage zodiac necklaces dating as far back as the 1930s. 

Wallis started selling these goods in 2021 at Modern Nomad, a design collective in the River North area of Denver, under the brand name Wallis Jordan Design. She then opened her own location, Raga the Drum, at 1804 South Pearl Street last October. Her new store is named after a beatnik term for a style of playing the bongos, intuitively instead of following sheet music or a typical song structure. 

“It was aligned with how I encourage people to approach design and to not be so stringent about rules,” Wallis says. Rather, she encourages customers to make styling their homes an enjoyable experience. If you don’t tend to eat dinner at a dining room table, for example, don’t feel pressured to have one in your home. “You can have two sitting rooms, if that suits you better,” Wallis adds. “It’s changing the shoulds into ‘you could.’” 

This, she says, is a way of thinking that largely attracts younger generations. To appeal to these customers, Wallis makes her store ethical and affordable. At Raga the Drum, Wallis sells mostly secondhand to reduce the environmental footprint. Plus, without the cost of manufacturing, she can sell her items cheaper, especially when it comes to furniture pieces.

“Historically, it was such a guarded service that you needed a good amount of money to access,” Wallis says of decorating a home, which restricts younger people who aren't as financially mature as older clients or families tend to be. “I like to get people excited about pieces early so they can start collecting [instead of] buying. So I look for pieces that will be timeless, but also versatile.”  

Wallis stocks Raga the Drum with pieces that span several time periods and styles, from secondhand sellers around the world.

She always knew there was a reason for collecting her extensive inventory over the years, and that it would reveal itself in time. “It was the obvious next step to open a store with all these goods that I felt would excite people.” She calls Raga the Drum a concept store, filling it with whatever she thinks will bring joy to peoples’ homes. 

“I never really put a limitation on what offerings I have,” Wallis says, or on the confines of her brick-and-mortar store. This summer, Wallis plans to participate in pop-ups and flea markets on South Pearl, near her current location. She hopes to promote community and one-on-one interactions between the public and local designers or artists – especially in a world where a lot of resale happens on one-dimensional platforms like Instagram, eBay and Poshmark.

“One of the most fun things about retail, that it can offer and the internet can’t, is that experience of a shared interest and geeking out with someone about it,” Wallis says. “I really like people to get excited about design and find themselves in it, and have it be a way to be seen, express themselves and cultivate an environment that makes you feel alive in your space.” 

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