Blue Frog Imports−The Shop of Many Colors (2011 news article in Patch)
Deidra and Dave Smith bring a mix of eclectic art, bold attitudes, and a welcome dose of "living color" to Woodstock.
When you walk into Main Street's Blue Frog Imports, it's immediately apparent that co-owners Deidra and Dave Smith don't inhabit a drab, neutral world. Quite the contrary, theirs is an existence of fearless color, vibrant spirits and inspired artistic talent that they are eager to share with their patrons and other would-be artists.
After six years in business in their Alpharetta location, the couple were attracted to the downtown scene of Woodstock for its revitalized beauty and its growing community of creatives who share their interest in the arts. Specializing in folk art, imported hand crafted furniture and pottery, the new store is anchored with Smith's painted creations and eclectic items that the couple collects on their frequent buying trips to Mexico.
The results of this timely move has proved fruitful for the store, revealing a close- knit neighborhood and city government who is ardent in their wish to help Blue Frog Imports succeed.
"Here we've been met with an extended arm," Smith said of his new home. "The people of the city have said to us, on more than one occasion, 'What can we do to help you make it here?' So that speaks well for the city."
The couple also remains impressed by the city government's welcoming disposition toward merchants.
"Woodstock is all about community involvement. The city and the people from Planning and Development really want a business district to develop here," Smith said. "They've got a good structure of restaurants, condos and retail businesses moving in."
Smith, the "resident artist" of the store, has also been moved by the extensive outpouring of support from her new customers who are either artists already or who have been inspired by her work.
"It's kind of amazing the number of Woodstock artists who've been in and have asked to put their art in our store because they see how many people it attracts," Smith said. "You can tell by their faces when they walk through the door how they're liking the store."
With upcoming art classes on the horizon for the shop, Smith is quick to encourage the creative side in others as well as share how she got her own start in the art business.
"I was at Yellow Daisy Festival when I realized, 'I'm going to try this'," Smith said, whose artistic triumph can now be seen in work of her own business. Wooden placards line the shops walls, proclaiming in bold hues the words that Smith has gathered over a lifetime and make her work unique.
"I always like the act of writing. I didn't care about drawing," Smith said. "I cared more about words."
The couple also brings with them a passion for the exotic, and their goods from their journeys to Mexican markets and homes of artisans are a clear indication of their appreciation for hand-crafted, quality items.
From hand-crafted leather journals to furniture and pottery, the couple loves to return not only with their treasures, but also the stories of the families and artists who created them.
"Just because we use the word 'imported' doesn't mean that it's facilitated by a machine," Smith explained. "The people in Mexico understand the concept of recycling and re-using raw goods. They've been making art for hundreds of years."
Smith is equally impressed by not only the artists and their work, but also by being able to witness first-hand the process of generations of passed-down artistic process.
"When I went to Mexico, I saw them making the products, and that's how I learned to love it. It's amazing how many people it takes for one piece," Smith said. "On the Talavera pottery, one person paints one color. However many colors a piece has, that's how many people paint it. Somebody is doing the mold, and somebody else fires it. It's just a huge process. Whole families do it, and sometimes in their living rooms. It's their life."
This pottery "painted by many" seems to have a kindred and unifying spirit, much like the "shop of many colors" that Blue Frog Imports represents. Many people in the community have come together to ensure that the shop enjoys a welcoming, atmosphere, and Smith said they hope to keep that sentiment alive by inviting Woodstock's "creative collective" to their doors and inspiring an invigorating freedom of expression that people might not have experienced before in their everyday lives.
"I would really like to attract free spirit people to Blue Frog Imports. The people who can't sit in an office," Smith said. "I'm a paralegal by trade, and I couldn't imagine doing that now after being free to do what I want to do."