The annual feast for the senses that is the Woodland Art Fair rolls around this weekend, and neighborhood businesses are gearing up for the biggest crowds they'll see all year.
There have been some notable changes in the Woodland Triangle Shops in recent months. Longtime resident Scheller's Bike Shop moved away in December, leaving an empty storefront and a big question mark at Woodland Avenue and East Maxwell Street.
Longtime Woodland Triangle resident Alex McClanahan of Hair Razors has witnessed the ebbs and flows of businesses over 20 years. She's excited by the newcomers and mentions another: Mark Miller, former owner of Woodcraft, is opening a business around the corner. It will offer laser engraving and cutting boards but will be mostly online, at Cuttingboardpro.com.
McClanahan and all the nearby businesses are looking forward to Monday's grand opening of The Press juicery and smoothie bar.
"Everybody brings another aspect. It's a self- contained, very well-rounded neighborhood," McClanahan says. She knows it's livable, because she lives in it.
"Now if we can just get someone in where the bike shop was."
Several new businesses have moved into other buildings nearby, and there's a growing sense of an artistically inclined retail community in the Triangle.
Source on High
This weekend marks the one-year anniversary for Source on High at 518 East High Street. The wellness co-op, which moved into space formerly occupied by Void skateboard shop, had its grand opening last August. This year, owner Corinne Lareau wants passers-by to stop in and learn about the classes and various therapies the studio offers. But what she's most excited about is that she'll soon be able to provide clients an experience that's the polar opposite of the art fair.
A session inside a sensory deprivation tank could be described as like floating in the Dead Sea while deep inside a cave. Imagine a podlike structure filled with a foot of water at body temperature that contains enough Epsom salts to turn a person into a human life raft.
"Every day someone says, 'I heard you have a tank,' or 'Do you have your tank yet?'" Lareau says. "People from overseas know all about it." One New York City writer said he left a tank "feeling more well-rested and stress-free than any time in recent memory."
Lareau is hoping to have hers set up by the Breeders' Cup in late October and also is looking for a few investors so the studio can get two tanks.
By next year's fair, it should be possible to indulge in a few hours of sensory overload in the park, followed by an hour of sensory deprivation in the tank, should anyone be so inclined.
Fox House Vintage
A couple doors down from Source on High is Fox House Vintage, which a few months ago moved into space formerly occupied by Black Market's shoe wing. It's the second location for co-owners Erin Reynolds-Turner and Lauralee Crain, who have a store at 123 West Sixth Street that has been open for a few years.
Fox House Vintage specializes in, as the name says, vintage furniture, clothes and accessories, and also does event design. For those who remember Jonk on Third Street, the feel is a little reminiscent of that store.
"In vintage, it's really the more the merrier," says Reynolds-Turner. "It's communal, not competitive."
Everything sold is one-of-a-kind, or in the class of you-don't-see-many-of-those, like the lamp in the window with a base that resembles a KFC chicken bucket.
Crain, 27, and Reynolds-Turner, 31, like that the Woodland neighborhood is a retail destination. Crain says she's excited to see what business is like when University of Kentucky students return this month.
High on Art and Coffee
Across the street, at 523 East High Street, is High on Art and Coffee. Ellie and Tim Harman opened the shop in January after falling in love with the property, which they leased from the owners of Lucia's Emporium after that business moved to North Ashland Avenue.
High on Art and Coffee is its own art fair. As an artist herself, Ellie Harman wanted to create a place where artists looking for outlets would feel welcomed. The shop represents 105 Kentucky artists, and 113 overall.
"At first I was taking six to 10 pieces, but now it's down to two to three. Even if it means taking just one piece, my goal is to not turn anyone away," she says.
The Harmans wanted a place that would feed body as well as soul. In addition to coffee, they serve breakfast foods, snacks, sandwiches and ice cream with the goal of keeping prices reasonable. All tips go to 4Paws for Ability, an organization that helps provide service dogs to children.
pBardo Art Gallery
Pat Bardo owned the Triangle boutique Outside the Box before retiring, then decided she needed more to do. She opened her art gallery upstairs at 507 East High Street in April in a building Bardo and her husband have owned since 2004. The Pink Spyder rents the space downstairs. Bardo's niece owns Black Market across the street.
Bardo displays artists with local and national reputations. Her current featured exhibit is by Kentucky artist Ashley Rae Howell, whose style is described as classical or natural realism.
A shop that had been a fixture for years at South Ashland and Euclid avenues recently moved to Woodland Triangle. Sew Fine owner Susanna Tao bought the building and moved her formal wear and alterations business, and her adorable posse of blood parrot fish in their 60-gallon tank, to 511 East High Street.
Tao likes her new neighborhood.
"Everyone is very nice," she says. "They all came by to say hello" when she moved in.
Does she have any plans for the Woodland Art Fair? No, she says, before admitting that she wasn't really that familiar with it. That's OK. By next year, she'll know.