Where in Petaluma can you, in one stop, get kissed by a friendly Pomeranian while picking up baked goods, chocolates, art, produce, plants, a floral arrangement for yourself or a friend and vintage jewelry? With all but the final item grown or made locally? Where, on the right day, can you see a play, attend a wedding, a bridal shower, or even a healing event with clairvoyant readings?
Those who answered Moj San Gift and Garden Gallery get gold stars.
Moj San (pronounced Moi San) is Croatian for “My Dream,” said co-owner Jon Evans, 47. Evans’ husband and business partner, Nedo Stankovic, 39, is from Croatia. The couple met in Dubrovnik.
Two-and-a-half years ago they lived in San Francisco, with a weekend home in Forestville. Evans was working for Level 3 Communications in Novato selling global networking to corporations, and Stankovic was showroom manager for Living Green Design in San Francisco, creating high-end indoor and outdoor landscapes. One night, on the way back to the city, he asked Stankovic, “Why are you doing this for someone else? Why not do it on a smaller scale for yourself?”
They saw an ad on Craigslist for a rental at the corner of East D and Wilson streets: the spot longtime Petalumans know as the former Green Thumb Nursery. Locals believe Green Thumb was started in the 1950s.
Evans said the property owners wanted the right type of business for the location. “It hit us both,” he said, “and we jumped in. This place has energy. Time after time, people come in and tell us, ‘I was drawn to come in.’
“It’s not us redoing the space. It’s the space allowing us to be part of the process.”
Sisters Taunya Moore and Melody Hendrix are the owners of Covet Artisan Bakery. They don’t yet have a storefront, but sell their baked goods and chocolates on the first Saturday of the month at The Farmer’s Wife Barntique in Cotati, and on the third Saturday of the month at Moj San.
Moore said Evans and Stankovic approached them last fall at The Farmer’s Wife. “They told us ‘You must come.’ We like to be here earlier so on Saturdays they adjust their hours for us, opening at 10 instead of 11.
“They really want this place to be community oriented. They’ll host painting classes, art exhibits, music. It’s a gathering place, and they’re wonderful.”
Earlier this year, Moj San welcomed County Line Harvest and its certified organic produce. “They’ve been here two months and they’re doing well,” Evans said. He explained produce is sold on the honor system, with cash dropped into a locked box.
“Part of our story,” Evans said, “is local arts. We try to be a hub for creativity; make it an encouraging place for beautiful things by beautiful people.”
Carefully placed around the property are several works by noted Petaluma sculptor Mary Fuller, including her “Animal Totem,” “Bacchus’ Mother” and “Olympic Lions.”
Artist Phyllis Calvin Thomas has displayed her paintings there since before Evans and Stankovic took over. “They’re so much fun,” she said of the couple.
Her husband, Jim Thomas, said they are creative and inspiring to work with. “They attract good energy. This is an urban oasis. People just come and hang out.” Calvin Thomas added, “We come intending to spend 20 minutes and we’re here more than an hour. Everywhere you look there’s something inspiring.”