Stepping into Peace Valley Dry Goods and Barber Shop is both a step into the past and into the future. The 6th Street combination menswear/barbershop is a blast of Americana, from the worn-out boxing gloves slung over the corner of the barber mirror to the antique sewing machines and 1950s toolbox used as displays for men’s clothing classics. At the same time, the storefront is part of a craft revival that’s booming across the U.S. and, specifically, in Boise’s Central Addition neighborhood.
Friends Ryan Peck, who co-founded Boise Rock School in 2008, and Chris Thomas teamed up to make the one-stop shop. Thomas, whose years in retail management offered industry know-how, also handles the shears and shaves alongside fellow barber Ryan Blizzard.
The space just off Myrtle Street is a unique one that appealed to Thomas for years, and so it’s only fitting that the pair chose a unique name. Peace Valley, Peck says, is what local Native Americans called the Boise area when they met to trade. (The shop is waiting on a Peace Valley map from the Idaho State Historical Society that Peck and Thomas say they’ve seen only in one other location — the Idaho State Tax Commission.)
Two hundred years later, this Peace Valley is flush with men’s staples — raw denim jeans, custom-work shirts, leather belts and more, all carefully selected by Peck and Thomas.
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“We don’t carry or won’t carry anything we wouldn’t want to wear ourselves and we don’t back,” says Thomas.
The store’s namesake dry goods are durable and handmade. The two-seat barbering area and adjacent wooden benches are a nod to old-school barbershops, meant as much for a close shave as for friendly conversation. It’s representative of the energy-conscious, local-business-friendly neighborhood that the Central Addition is striving to be.
“I think that’s why we’re here,” says Peck, rattling off a list of the shop’s nearby creative cohorts, which include art center MING Studios and sign-maker Rocket Neon. “It just didn’t make sense for us to be next door to a Jimmy John’s. It’s not just the art; it’s the artists.”
I think it’s important for Boise as a city to remember we’re built on industries that are locally based.”
Ryan Peck, co-owner of Peace Valley Dry Goods and Barber Shop
And Peck and Thomas are big on connecting with other artists. It’s why they seek out quality clothing from small U.S. brands like Railcar Fine Goods, Rogue Territory, American Trench and more that often specialize in just one or two basic items.
“The concept that I really like about it is our whole aesthetic that you don’t need a whole closet full of stuff,” Peck says. “You should have things you really like that fit you well and will last for years and years.”
That celebration of small specialty businesses has even led them to local partnerships. Peace Valley works closely with Nampa’s Anderson Supply Co., which offers handmade backpacks and bags. Peck and Thomas originally worked with owner Trish Anderson to create custom shaving kits.
“I was super stoked on it,” said Anderson, who operates her own storefront in Nampa. “There is a rebirth in purchasing products that are not so disposable, that aren’t cheap.”
After realizing Anderson Supply Co. fit so closely with Peace Valley’s values, the business owners decided to do more. For Peace Valley, Anderson created tote bags lined with vintage automobile upholstery, which fit in perfectly with the shop’s air of old-school cool.
“Boise wants Boise. Boise wants local. Boise wants a story,” said Peck. “We have to provide an experience.”
To Thomas and Peck, part of that experience is in finding other makers who are equally as passionate about their crafts. The pair talk about product suppliers like they’re old friends — because they are.
“If you do what you love, we’re going to love what you do and probably purchase it and wear it,” Peck says. “I can get behind that all day, people doing what they love. You don’t want to lose that.”
Peck says he’s confident that Peace Valley’s brand of homegrown business is what Boise needs — he’s seen similar success with Boise Rock School. And not only that, it’s what the Central Addition, with its Energy Zone and focus on sustainable geothermal systems, is looking for.
Thomas and Peck point out that Peace Valley’s products are made to last much longer than “fast fashion,” even if that initially means a heftier price tag.
“This is your price point, but this is what you get for it. So that’s part of it, educating consumers on why that’s important, but not in a pretentious way,” Thomas says.
“Plus, you’re buying a pair of jeans that you don’t need to run through the washer. And that’s efficient, right?” says Peck.
Peck says they’re excited to be part of the area and watch it develop around their shop. And as they work to build a client base and plan for the business’s future, Thomas and Peck believe that Peace Valley, like its wares, will be built to last.
Nicole Blanchard, a copy editor at the Idaho Statesman, was raised in Mountain Home. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Idaho State University and a master’s degree from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.
About Peace Valley Dry Goods and Barber Shop
The shop at 418 S. 6th St. has been offering trims and threads for several weeks, and co-owners Ryan Peck and Chris Thomas say they’re still working up to a full fall-season inventory and hope to have a “grand opening” later this month or next.
Currently, the business is open Tuesday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Last barbering customers are seated 30 minutes before close. Peace Valley standard prices are $25 for a haircut, $30 for a shave. Walk-ins are welcome, and those hoping to make an appointment can do so online at peacevalleydrygoods.com. (208) 985-5015.
Central Addition looks at past to shape its future
The history of Boise’s Central Addition neighborhood (bounded by Myrtle and Front streets to the north and south, and 2nd and 5th streets on the east and west, according to Preservation Idaho) stretches back to 1890, when the subdivision was first created. Back then it promised to become a fashionable spot to live, but railroad line construction soon sent it into social decline.
Since then, the area has had its ups and downs — in 2014, area business owners and residents created the Central Addition Working Committee to develop a master plan for the neighborhood, which had lost many key historic homes to fires and demolition, and struggled with a perceived disconnection from adjacent Downtown Boise.
Co-owner Mike Cooley of George’s Cycles has seen the area grow — and been a part of that growth as the bicycle store moved in February from Avenue A over to 312 S. 3rd St., within the Central Addition.
As part of CAWC’s master plan, the Central Addition is split into three parts: the Energy Zone (where Peace Valley Dry Goods and Barber Shop resides), the Neighborhood Core and the Community Retail area. Goals for each area differ slightly, but the main focus is on improving pedestrian access, encouraging multi-level development that supplements housing and bringing in more small and local businesses (like Peace Valley and George’s), creating a true neighborhood feel.
“The neighborhood is kind of bonded together and a cohesive group,” Cooley says.
In addition, the city hopes to extend geothermal energy and fiber-optic lines in the area to promote values of sustainability and energy efficiency as it plans for future urbanization of the neighborhood. For George’s Cycles, these loftier goals were just out of reach (“We did try to do the solar and geothermal projects, but they were beyond our budget,” says Cooley), but the business did its part to preserve the Central Addition’s history and save resources.
“We didn’t tear the building down, so we reduced our carbon footprint,” Cooley says. “We took an old building and made it modern.”
Cooley says the added visibility and promise of future foot traffic is a boon for the business, but one of the most interesting parts of being a member of the neighborhood has been watching it blossom.
“We purchased the property our building is on almost two years ago, and the number of projects that have taken off since then has been staggering,” he says.