Puj opening doors of downtown shop

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian Business Editor

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For years, the baby products company Puj has been a baffling presence in downtown Vancouver. Even as the Vancouver-based company expanded nationally by selling through major retailers and online, the large showroom attached to the company’s 20,000-square-foot warehouse remained empty. The private company’s popular infant bath tubs and other products, intended to “simplify parenthood,” in the company’s words, were nowhere to be found in the building below the large Puj sign.

That lonely looking space at 11th and Columbia streets began to take on life in December, when Puj began placing displays in the showroom of its headquarters in the Wolf Building. The company was surprised by the public interest in the products and curiosity about the company, said Theresa Meireis, Puj’s operations manager.

This week, Puj is opening its doors wider by presenting its first physical sale of products that have imperfect or damaged boxes, with discounts of up to 50 percent. Until now, those products have been sold online about once every six months.

“We want to engage with the community more,” said Meireis, who worked Tuesday preparing showroom displays.

Growing product line

Puj (pronounced “pudge”) was created by Vancouver entrepreneurs Ben and Katie Richardson, who spent years developing and refining their initial product, the Puj Tub, a soft foam infant bath tub that conforms to the shape of most sinks. The couple began selling the tub, which has a retail price of $44.99, in 2009. Since then, the company has added other products, including a travel tub and the nine-piece Puj Splash set, with a tub, towels, and other accessories, that sells for $75.

The sale hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday. The company will accept only credit cards for sale items. In addition to the in-store sale, www.puj.com will hold a six-hour sale starting at 3 p.m. today, with the Puj Splash set at half price.

The company’s showroom and retail store will now be open regular hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.