As Sugar House continues to figure out what to do with their newly formed gravel storage pit, other parts of the area have moved on and are now thriving as a spread out community. The tight-knit community vibe may still exist along parts of Highland and 2100 South, but as the reality sets in that the once proud center will probably never return, along with the idea of the new trolley line coming sooner than development, capturing the spirit of Sugar House away from the former focal point isn't such a terrible idea.
--- Take for example Second Hand Chic, a knick-knack and craft store with a wide array of materials for the home. Art, fashion, housewares, jewelry and more falling somewhere between kitsch and home comfort without the tackiness. The shop has become a frequent stop for Sugar House shoppers, whether to buy or browse, helping the community that lost many shoppers gradually gain some back in their own way. I got a chance to chat with owner Kelly Ballard and two of her employees about the shop and thoughts on local business.
Caitlin Moline, Kelly Ballard & Kimberly Kent
Gavin: Hello ladies. When did the idea of Second Hand Chic come about?
Kelly: I opened Second Hand Chic just over five years ago. I was kind of in between jobs and had just remarried. We had just moved into a new house and I realized I just had too much stuff! I had always collected vintage items and they fit perfectly into my little 1920's Sugar House bungalow. But my new husband and I bought a more modern rambler and my vast collections and shabby chic furniture just didn't work in our new space. The stuff sat in my garage for a few months until I got the idea of opening a shop. My husband was less than enthusiastic. "No one is going to want to buy your old junk, Kelly." Well, I didn't listen. I got a $10,000 advance on my Visa, rented a space and started moving my stuff out of the garage.
Gavin: What was it like planning out the shop?
Kelly: I wanted to give the shop a boutique feel by creating vignettes and organizing the merchandise by color and theme. I also wanted to show customers how to mix different styles of furnishings together and inspire them to try this approach in their homes. The trend in home furnishings is towards a more ecclectic mix of well-loved furnishings gathered over time. I wanted the shop to reflect this.
Gavin: What was the first month open like and did it feel challenging bringing customers in?
Kelly: The response was very enthusiastic from the first day we opened. People were actually fighting over things! It was very exciting to have such a great response by the community... except for the fighting. We actually turned a profit our first year in business!
Gavin: How did you end up in your current location on 9th East in Sugar House?
Kelly: Our first location was in the Millcreek area on 33rd South just above 9th East. The first two years, business was booming until UDOT started the road construction along 33rd South. The construction went on for the better part of a year and it was a challenge to keep the customers coming in. I had to cut my employee hours, which I hate doing, but we managed to hang in there. When our three year lease expired I found our current location in Sugar House and signed a five year lease. Business continued to be a challenge however because this all happened in the Fall of 2008 when the stock market crashed and so customers had suddenly closed up their pocket books. In addition to this the following Spring UDOT started working on 9th East. I felt at that point UDOT was out to get me.
Gavin: What has it been like in recent years, being part of Sugar House with the reconstruction up the road and when the development was halted?
Kelly: Let me just say how much I love being part of this little Sugar House community. I have lived in Sugar House for fifteen years and I just would not live any where else in Utah. This construction on Highland, we refer to it as Craig's Crater or Meecham's Meteor, was an unfortunate situation but in no way has "ruined" Sugar House as the media has portrayed. The community is still thriving and I have heard a new development is in the works for the corner of 21st South and Highland. I feel very positive about the future of business in this neighborhood.
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