Patricia Rudd and Heidi Blair have become accustomed to hearing a one-word refrain as people step into their downtown Mill Valley store called Office Hours: “Whoa.”

The utterance comes upon seeing the store’s gorgeous, eye-popping inventory, which takes a few minutes to grasp. Rudd puts it into context: “Office Hours specializes in vintage, antique mid-century modern and industrial office and home furnishings, including desks, chairs, office accessories and accoutrements, leather goods – everything you might need for your office or home office, she says.

That tells you the what, but not exactly the why for the “whoa.”

What makes Office Hours unique, and a welcome addition to the downtown Mill Valley landscape for many residents and visitors, is how different the office furniture and accessories are from the staid, homogenous home and professional office spaces everywhere we look.

That’s the whole point, Rudd says.

“I’ve seen a lot of different things come and go over the years,” she says. “I wanted to create something a little bit different, and something that is a great fit for Mill Valley, and I think we’ve done that.”

Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Rudd moved to Mill Valley in 1993 with her then-fiancee. He had a conference in San Francisco, and Rudd, a theater major in college, hopped on a bus north, checked out the Marin Theatre Company and fell in love with the 94941. They moved here shortly thereafter.

Save a few detours here and there, Rudd has lived in town ever since, putting her kids through the Greenwood School and in recent years building a new home on Lovell Avenue.

Along the way, Rudd regularly hosted frequent get-togethers in her living room for fellow stay-at-home moms and women entrepreneurs – sort of a “BYO to-do list” to get stuff done in a social, fun environment.

“We actually got to do the things we needed to do rather than get pulled towards everything around the house,” Rudd says.
The popularity of those events got Rudd thinking about workspaces, and how to bring a design flair to them in a retail environment. Blair, her longtime assistant who she first connected with years ago via Craigslist and who’s been her right hand ever since, helped Rudd conceptualize Office Hours and run the shop. Office Hours opened at 18 East Blithedale Ave., Suite 12 – the space formerly occupied by BJ Moore Gallery and Wee Threads before that – in late October 2015.

“Heidi dropped completely into my life and has been such a vital partner in making this happen,” Rudd says. “And once we started down the path of building a retail concept, it was all about, ‘let’s buy some great things that people might want to have to work on.’ And we continued on that road of finding things that we wanted to have – just vintage and antique so we’re not adding to the landfills.”

In addition to furniture, there’s plenty to complement it, from wooden keyboards that connect to laptops to desk lamps and clocks you won’t find anywhere else. There’s even the basics: reams of recycled paper, eyeglasses, calendars and pens.
“Everything needs to look good, feel good and do it’s job,” Rudd says.

Over time, Rudd and Blair have connected with Bay Area collectors and craftspeople and learned a ton about the community dedicated to “taking apart these beautiful pieces of furniture to restore them lovingly and bring them to the public.”

Overall, Rudd says she’s been thrilled at the community’s response to Office Hours and the community that’s evolved from it, particularly their informal after-hours wine-and-cheese events.

“It’s been incredibly heartwarming to me,” she says. “I’ve lived here a longtime, and to be able to have this community gathering space has been amazing.”

The 411: Office Hours is at 18 East Blithedale Ave., Suite 12. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm and Sunday, 

Want to know what’s happening around town? Click here to subscribe to the Enjoy Mill Valley Blog by Email!