Will locate yarn, fabric mail-order, e-commerce in 35,000sf warehouse
[caption id="attachment_35177" align="alignright" width="360" caption="Dharma Trading Co. started in this Berkeley store in 1969."][/caption]
SAN RAFAEL -- Dharma Trading Co., which has been selling supplies for decorating yarn and fabrics since the late 1960s, plans to relocate its growing mail-order and e-commerce business under one larger Petaluma roof this year.
The retail store will stay where it has been on Fourth Street in downtown San Rafael for 36 years. However, the company intends to move office, storage and order-fulfillment operations sequentially from 22,000 square feet in three buildings to a 35,300-square-foot mostly warehouse building in Petaluma between this summer and the end of the year.
[caption id="attachment_35178" align="alignleft" width="360" caption="Dharma Trading Co. founder Isaac Goff (center) with his sons David (right) and Sampson (photo courtesy of Dharma Trading)"][/caption]
"We've gotten tight where we're at," said David Goff, 35, vice president and part owner of the company. "We will have a small amount of additional space for future expansion."
From $4,000 founder and majority owner Isaac Goff scraped together from family and odd jobs to open the first store in Berkeley in July 1969, Dharma Trading has grown to employ around 60 during peak summer months for orders from hobbyists as well as artists selling creations at farmer's markets and craft fairs. Sales have increased from $10,000 annually at the outset to "many millions" of dollars in recent years.
The company transitioned to San Rafael with the opening of that store in 1975 and the later closure of the Berkeley store. The business became more about mail-order sales after the first catalog went out earlier that decade, and e-commerce started in the early 1990s.
"He recognized early on that the Internet was going to be a very big deal," David Goff said about his father.
The Goff family has taken some of the proceeds from the business and put them back into a humanitarian effort called Dharma Social Projects. It funds causes such as sewing co-ops, surgical procedures and children's tuition in countries like Bolivia and Indonesia, places where Dharma Trading buys materials.
The Dharma Trading can be traced to the 1960s and the Indonesian belief system called Subud, from which the company name came, then an opportunity to import hand-spun yarn and resell it by mail, according to the company website.
The company is moving the fulfillment side to Petaluma, rather than expanding in Marin, because the selection was limited for buildings of a desired size available for purchase with no occupants, truck docks and capability to stack inventory higher, according to Nathan Ballard, a Keegan & Coppin agent who represented Isaac and Renee Goff in the purchase of 1805 S. McDowell Blvd. from the Wait family on May 17. Mark Carrington, Haden Ongaro and Preston Smith represented the sellers.
"If you're a company in Marin and you have any warehousing and production needs other than a lot of office space, Petaluma offers a great opportunity to cut your overhead," Mr. Smith said, noting that the sale price was less than $3 million, or roughly $95 a square foot.