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Gavin's Underground

Frosty Darling

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2008-12-14 -

Looking for something a little more unique this year? A short trip downtown has just the thing.

Frosty Darling has been a hotspot on Broadway for almost two years now, offering the downtown marketplace a unique gift shop to find something vintage or just a little beyond ordinary. Classic board games, hand-sewn purses, candied treats, fake cake, stuffed animals, jewelery and cards are just a sampling of what you can find inside, all to the sounds of classic music that takes you back to a simpler time in Americana. I popped by to take some pictures and got a chance to chat with store owner Gentry Blackburn about how she got started, some of the items you'll find inside, thoughts on surviving downtown and a few other topics here and there. All while I stared at my personal favorite item... a “Night Court” liquor box!

Gentry Blackburn

http://www.frostydarling.com/

Gavin: Hello Gentry. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Gentry: Well, I run a store. I paint as much as I can. I sew and watch the same movies over and over. I play the ukulele and sing old country songs. I love Thai food and I kick ass at Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit.

Gavin: For those who don't know about it, what is Frosty Darling?

Gentry: Frosty Darling is a gift boutique in the Broadway shopping district of Salt Lake that sells candy, cards, gift wrap, jewelry, purses and all sorts of other silly stuff. Many of the items in the store are locally handmade and the store is goofy, and colorful. I share a space with the Kayo, a progressive art gallery and the Boku Massage Studio.

Gavin: Where did the idea come from to start up this kind of shop?

Gentry: It all came about so fast. I was looking for a new art studio, making button earrings and hand-painted pillows, then basically the next thing I knew I was opening a whole shop. The Kayo Gallery needed a tenant for the other half of a two part space and I just went for it. The idea was to show my paintings and sell really cute stuff and the store has kind of taken on a life of it's own.

Gavin: What drew you to put the store on Broadway?

Gentry: That was where the Kayo Gallery found a new space and it just happened to be a good fit. The gallery started on 3rd South so it seemed like the natural choice. There's not any other part of town I'd rather be.

Gavin: Was it difficult getting set up or did everything seem to work out easily?

Gentry: It was the hardest thing I've ever done, but I was running on excitement and adrenaline.

Gavin: How have things been sharing the space with Kayo?

Gentry: We're like roommates. We work together and compromise, help each other out, bounce ideas and it's nice to have the company. It's really great to get all their spill over from Gallery Stroll.

Gavin: When you first opened up, what was the public reaction like?

Gentry: I don't think the public knew what to think about it. Still don't. There aren't many stores that focus on an aesthetic theme rather than what people need or what "sells." Sometimes people walk in and have to ask "So, what is it you sell?" But, when people come in that really love the candy cigarettes, the dart toss game and really appreciate neat handmade stuff- then it's really fun and I think they're surprised that I'm here.

Gavin: With all the items you have available, what's the process like deciding what to include?

Gentry: I look for things that are colorful, well-made and have a cheeky or childlike quality.

Gavin: Obviously without giving away too much, how do you go about finding the various things for the shop?

Gentry: My crafters bring me great stuff, I've been sent samples and catalogs, I've found things on blogs and I generally just keep my eye out.

Gavin: Do you ever take requests from people on hard-to-find items?

Gentry: It's doesn't really come up.

Gavin: Do you frown on terms like “kitsch” or “camp” when it comes to people making reference to some of the stuff, or do you embrace it as part of the charm?

Gentry: I embrace words like that because it's really hard to describe what I do with out them.

Gavin: The entire place itself is designed to look retro from the front window to the displays and even the music. Do you view it as an art project, or more as another piece of the shop's mystique?

Gentry: It's definitely an art project but it's been a couple years now since all the big creative decisions have been made so now I'm improving things as I can.

Gavin: While we're on the topic of art, you yourself are an artist and create some of the items you sell. Was that part of the plan or something you grew into? And what are some of your favorites?

Gentry: I opened Frosty Darling to showcase my paintings and crafty stuff and I imagined the space also being my studio and workshop. After opening though, running the store took over and I haven't been making as much of my own stuff as I'd like. I still paint and I've been making a lot of stuffed animals lately It's my major goal for the next year to make much more of the inventory myself.

Gavin: A little state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local art scene, both good and bad?

Gentry: I'm the wrong person to ask because to tell you the truth I haven't been paying that much attention. There's a lot of great art being made now, we just need more buyers.

Gavin: What's your take on Gallery Stroll and how its come along over the years?

Gentry: My mom used to take me on the Stroll when I was a kid and I've always thought it was a great thing. I don't have any thoughts on how it's changed over the years, but It's nice to see so many people out and about.

Gavin: Being a part of the downtown area, what are your thoughts on surviving as a local business right now?

Gentry: Uhhhggg. It's hard. I'm happy to be downtown, but doesn't look good. I'm not giving up. If we all stay positive that will help more than anything. I'm trying to be careful and keep things as simple as possible. I'd like to think there's a unique place for a store like mine and that my customers will keep coming back for gifts that have a lot of heart.

Gavin: How does the holiday season affect you both as an artist and as a business owner?

Gentry: The holiday season is hectic of course, but it's great as a business owner. As an artist- I'm putting off a lot of projects until I can get through the thick of this busy time.

Gavin: What events have you got coming up, and what can we expect from you over the next year?

Gentry: All the events for the season are already over. I mentioned it earlier, but this year I'm going to focus on making a lot more of what I sell myself.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Gentry: I've recently started carrying the work of local jeweler Laura Besterfeldt. (Maybe you remember her from the Niple Show last year at the Kayo Gallery). Featured is "Man-A-Saurus: A unique series using army men, dinosaurs, and stones to create jewelry in sterling silver." These pieces run from $75-$120. And, Ear charms, lovely earrings of sterling silver and precious stones that hang from the front and back of the ear. They go for $25-$40.

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