At first, The Educated Otter sold nothing having to do with otters. Diana Hostetler simply liked otters and decided to name her new shop in downtown Nashville after her favorite creature.
But it turns out that visitors like them, too. So now she’s having to find otter merchandise to add to the decorative items for home and self in her store at 59 E. Main St., in the Foxfire Building.
“That was not my intention, so now I am going to have to sell branded merchandise to sell the otter. It’s been very hard to find otter items for the quality, so I am having to create some things,” she said.
The Educated Otter does sell products from Otter Wax, a California-based company that offers lip balms and other pocket-carry items, she said.
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“I was looking for a name that actually people would gravitate towards, and I wanted it to be an animal because of Foxfire (the name of the building),” Hostetler said.
Why does she like otters? “They are educated and they’re elegant, graceful,” she said.
The shop is now selling The Educated Otter T-shirts; they’ll soon be available for ordering online at theeducatedotternashville.com.
Hostetler describes her shop as a home goods store that sells items like night lights and unique door knobs. It’s also a place where customers can decorate themselves, friends or children with jewelry, sunglasses and bags.
She also sells consignment items. “It’s not like stuff they would give to Goodwill. It’s more like, ‘I’ve got these great dishes, but they don’t fit my house and I don’t want them and somebody else might like them,’ so they bring them in here and I sell them,” Hostetler said.
She then splits the profits with anyone who brings items in. Hostetler said she is interested in “unique things.”
“Dishes, just kind of oddball things. I had two oil lamps I sold right away,” she said.
“I try to really make it reasonably priced so they sell really quickly. We’re not out to gouge anybody. We just want them to enjoy something that’s been sitting in a box.”
Other unique items in The Educated Otter include decorated matchboxes, nautical-themed decor, wooden nose holders for glasses and market bags that are similar to Thirty-One totes.
“I bought those because I thought they were cool and they sold out. This is my third order. I get them from another company. They are similar to Thirty-One bags and they are cheaper, so people are gravitating towards them,” she said.
She’s also selling wood bowls and pens from southern Indiana artist Sam Sloffer, along with pottery from Russell R. Ross Ceramics in Columbus.
Hostetler lives in Bloomington, but she “loved the community” in Brown County. She decided the time was right to open a shop when she had enough money to “take a break” without a paycheck.
While she was figuring out what to sell in her shop she visited the United Kingdom for inspiration. She ended up ordering otter post cards featuring photos shot by a UK photographer; she also decided to sell stuffed animal heads, like a giraffe, to hang in children’s rooms.
For everything else, she chose items that her “very eclectic” family would like.
“When my aunt came in, she said, ‘I can’t decide what I want. There’s too much I like.’ I said, ‘Well, that was by design,’” Hostetler said with a laugh.
Location: 59 E. Main St. on the lower level of the Firefox building.
Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Online: Search “The Educated Otter” on Facebook or visit TheEducatedOtterNashville.com. Check Facebook for changes in shop hours.