HARDY, Ky. – If you drive a few short miles into Hardy, Ky. you will come to a local artisan consignment shop called The Hearty Artisan. This is located along the Randall McCoy historical trail developed a short time ago. The business is owned by Herbie Dotson. It’s not just a business to him though. This is a labor of love. Herbie recognized the untapped potential and resources in our community. That resource is the people and their talents. I asked these two questions: “Why did you open The Hearty Artisan? What do you hope to accomplish with this shop?” With that the article wrote itself with this reply from Mr. Dotson:
“I have owned the carwash, in Hardy, since 2008, when I had it constructed. Recently, due to the decline in the number of people working in the coal industry, I noticed that the utilization of the carwash began to dwindle. I found myself searching for ways to repurpose it into a more useful space. My wife and I had often wandered why someone hadn’t already tried to create something to offer our area’s Hatfield McCoy tourists. We decided that we had the perfect space and perhaps we were in the best position to offer tourists something unique. Thus, our thoughts began to wander.
Volunteering some of my time with the Pike County Tourism CVB, the recurring theme seemed to be that tourists to our area were looking for two things in particular, local food and local shops. That’s when I decided that a local artisan consignment shop, located along the Hatfield McCoy driving tour might be a good opportunity to not only open a unique store, but showcase the area’s talent and hopefully help some people create additional income for their families.
Essentially, my intentions for opening The Hearty Artisan were to create positive momentum within, what some would consider a waning tourism industry. Our hometown has had to deal with a considerable amount of adversity recently and my hopes are to begin a domino effect of positive momentum. Of course, we all want to see the coal industry do well, but I recognize, as I am sure others do, the importance of establishing a diverse economy and tourism should be a piece of that puzzle.
Secondly, and more importantly, we want the artisans of our area to get the recognition that they so deserve. The people from this little corner of Appalachia are just as talented as any other group of folks in the United States. With that in mind, I wanted to create something that would be far reaching in its financial effect by giving our people a single location to display their work and hopefully create a small source of income for some of them. Consignment, for this reason, just makes sense.
This store has become a family affair, of sorts. My father spent countless hours overseeing the transformations. Beginning early on in 2008, from dilapidated yellow painted block garage to a carwash and now from a carwash to a modern storefront, working long hours during the days. He oversaw these projects while I worked my day job. He utilized his knowledge and contacts to hire some of the better residential construction workers in the area and he was instrumental in the design and conceptualization of the use of the materials.
My mother and I are fans of all forms of art. We are basically fans of human creativity, in general. She was completely on board with this from the get go and I couldn’t have made The Hearty Artisan happen without my mother’s willingness to volunteer her time. She is what makes the day-to-day operations of this endeavor possible. She spends many hours working the counter and entertaining patrons with interesting conversation and an upbeat personality.
My wife and I are fortunate to have the support of a wonderful community. Hardy and the surrounding area has always embraced us and has given us years of support, through both the carwash and my wife’s hair salon, Angie’s Hair Creations, which is located next door to the shop. The Hearty Artisan, in its essence, is a small way for us to give back to our community, the community that we love.
The Hearty Artisan is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10:00 a.m – 7:00 p.m. You can also find the business on Facebook. Take time to visit this shop and view the offerings of 35 local artisans. This isn’t just a great place for a tourist to buy a souvenir. This shop offers unique gift ideas and many things you’ll fall in love with and want to keep for yourself. Personally, I recognized the names of some of the artisans but I didn’t realize what artistic talents they possessed.
Shop artisans change from time to time but currently in the shop is works from:
Artisans: Jay Clark, Felicia Briceno, Verna Phillips, Thomas Dotson, Stone Heritage, Dave Pierce, Debbie Bowen, Jim Hall, Pattie Blackburn, Elmer Ray Hatfield, John Worley, Barb Hurley, Vera Kay Hankins, Walker’s Pumpkin Patch, James Honaker, Debbie Abshire, Sharon Grimmett, Olivia Sturgill, Lonnie Bowen, Neal Fraley, Linda Tackett,Doug and Tara Barath, The Stone Pansy, Arthur Pegg, Roman’s Farms – Donna Romans, Charles Reed, Zander Whalen, John Hall, Denise Alley, Madonna Shapiro, Wanda Hunt, Angela Sosebee, Larry McKnight, Denise Gannon and Tiffany Rodriguez.