About Us

People are at the heart of all we do.

Founded in 2021, Walla Walla General Store is a place to find a warm welcome and just the right thing. With a wide range of purpose-driven items for kitchen, home and life, we offer both affordable and aspirational things to enjoy.

We strive to bring in the best within each category. At times the best within a category is a large producer with a long history. The balance of large manufacturers with small studios producing hand-crafted goods from makers we know by name is our retail philosophy. We lean away from plastic and mass-produced items. We choose makers that embrace fair trade practices and cultural equity. At times, these decisions cause our goods to cost more. That is an ethical decision that is at the heart of putting people and their quality of life before immediate economic gain. 

With a background in early childhood educational administration and luxury retail sales, owner and founder Jean Bender has a love of both the playful and the elegant. Our store is thoughtfully organized and ever-evolving. 

As we move into our third year, a desire to engage our community at a new level brings The Tables to Walla Walla General Store. This classroom, art-making and meeting place is a fresh destination to sit with friends and create and learn. 

Why the Mushroom

Why is the mushroom a symbol of Walla Walla General Store?

The mushroom is all about connection and community. Mushrooms are the fruit of a fungal organism known as Mycellium that supports and sustains the forest community. At Walla Walla General Store we strive to nurture and connect our shoppers, clients and the Walla Walla community. 

Fun fact: the largest known organism in the universe is the “humungous fungus” in the Blue Mountains of Oregon, right around the corner. Click below to learn more.

Humongous Fungus!

Our Team

People are at the heart of our business. Not just the people who stop by, but the people who make up our team. Each of us contributes to the greater endeavor with spirit, humor, dedication and competence. We strive to work in an environment of respect and compassion.

  • Jean Bender

    Founder and owner Jean Bender was born and raised in the empire state of New York. With a background in luxury retail and the arts, Jean has been a museum docent, or tour guide, at both the Portland and Seattle Art Museums. With a BA in studio art from Kenyon College and a masters degree in early education administration from Bank Street College of Education in New York City, Jean is a teacher with more than 20 years of experience working with all ages. She believes in process-driven education, where students learn by doing, and the personalized care for each and every customer. And… Jean is Gracie dog’s person. Oh happy day!

  • Maddie Bouvet

    Maddie Bouvet is often the first person customers see when they stop by. Warm and helpful, Maddie is a lynchpin to all we do. She is the creator of our website, developing the code to accommodate our dearest homepage wishes, and is the person we rely on to make the point-of-sale behave. A Seattle native, Maddie is a graduate of Whitman College with a BA in sociology. Maddie has been with Walla Walla General Store from our very first days. And… Maddie is Bowie, the golden retriever’s, mom. WOOF!

  • Haley Wilkerson

    Haley Wilkerson has been with Walla Walla General Store from our first days. A Whitman graduate with a BA in English, Haley calls Houston, TX home. A steady and positive person, she is woven into the very fabric of our store through her technical skills and ability to build or fix almost anything. We couldn’t find a single thing with regularity without Haley’s impeccable organizational skills. And… Haley is our in-house DJ. Lucky us!

  • Jane Barragar

    Jane Barragar is the very essence of warmth and kindness. With her wide smile, sincere welcome, and over 20 years experience in retail, Jane brings a joyful calm and capability to our store. She is all about customer care and helping people connect not only with what they are looking for, but all that Walla Walla General Store has to offer. And... Jane and her faithful companion Denali can be spotted at Bennington. Well, hello!

  • Laura Telander

    Sometimes the world is just plain kind. At a time of need, in the dead of winter, Laura Telander appeared looking for just the sort of job we had to offer. It is hard to imagine Walla Walla General Store without her calm presence and engaging smile. Reliable and sensible, Laura is the reason everything you fall in love with is available for sale. Calmly managing boxes and tags and the endless parade of deliveries and pickups, Laura gets it done. Hailing from California with a prolonged stop in New Mexico, she is a graduate of the University of California, Davis with a BA in studio art. Laura gained an MFA in painting and drawing from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. And… Laura has the most enticing collection of western shirts this side of the Cascades. One glory after another.

  • Sandra Simonson

    Sandra Simonson is the key to our impeccable presentation in the larger world. She is the guru of balance, the queen of the layout, the fixer of pictures. Sandra manages how we look on paper and on screen. Sandra joined the team in the early days and leveled up our concepts. With a bang-up sense of humor and a can-do approach, Sandra keeps the work flowing. She long called Seattle home and worked in marketing with Nordstrom and Microsoft among other companies. And… Sandra is a rock artist. Heavy, we know. Check her work out here.

  • Bowie

    Bowie was born on Thanksgiving Day in 2020. He is our newest intern and an ideal meeter/greeter. A golden retriever with a sunny disposition and a gentle nature, he has a sincere affection for everyone, every minute of every day. And… floating on a paddle board is Bowie’s happy place.

  • Gracie

    Gracie is a native of the Navajo Nation in Arizona. Raised as an independent being, she became a resident of Walla Walla at the age of two. A mix of heeler, German shepard and shiba inu, Gracie is a compelling mix of independence, affection and gentility. And… when Gracie knows you, she sings when she greets you.