Humble Beginnings

Wickenburg Sun announcement of Dirt Road Art & Collective

Chris Thompson

8/8/20223 min read

In case you missed it I just wanted to share the Wickenburg Sun's shout out about our new adventure here at Dirt Road. Here is the link to the article

Or you can read it below!

Dirt Road co-op to open 4th of July weekend.

Jun 22, 2022 12:00

By Kirk McKnight Staff Writer

For some time, many in town have looked across to the area between Hassayampa BBQ and Kwikprint and wondered, “What’s going to happen there?”One morning, a couple asked the same question and a passing Chris Thompson answered, “I’m going to happen there.”Thompson, who will be opening her Dirt Road Art & Collective co-op over the July 4 weekend, has sold western art as far north as Estes Park, Colo. and throughout various parts of Arizona, including Snowflake and Pinetop.“I make cowboy boot purses, and I ‘cowgirl up’ rescue furniture,” Thompson said. “I’ve been doing art shows for several years. I did the Gold Rush Days before COVID, and I thought what a great little town to have a storefront, so I started looking for storefronts pretty much as soon as I got here.”Much like the residential real estate market of Wickenburg, the commercial market proved quickly elusive for Thompson.“Every time I thought, ‘That would be a good one. I’ll sleep on it,’ it would be gone,” she said. “I saw some construction going on next to Hassayampa BBQ, so I poked my head and asked if I could have the owner’s contact information. I called her and asked if they were going to expand the barbecue or if they were renovating it to rent out. When she said they were going to rent it out, I said, ‘I have to have it.’”With the renovated storefront space in hand, Thompson found herself facing a completely new hurdle.“It was too big for just me, so a girlfriend who is another artist and collector and I decided to turn it into a co-op,” Thompson said. “I put feelers out a couple of months on Facebook for local artists and collectors, and I got great response. I have a handful of local artists and western memorabilia collectors. It’s a cool conglomeration. I knew there was some local talent here because I’ve done Gold Rush Days. I just wanted to tap into that and help me fill the space.”Thompson wouldn’t wait long before her “tapping” yielded results.“When I was talking to people who were interested in doing the co-op, I found out there was a place here in town that had gone out of business that was a western antique and collectible co-op,” she said. “These people didn’t have any place to go. There was such a need, and I end up getting a couple of her vendors. They have marvelous collections. They were going to help me along, but I really feel the store itself is helping them along. There’s so much talent here and really fun collectors. I wish the store were twice as big as it is.”With the co-op’s storefront located at 177 E. Wickenburg Way or, in other words, along U.S. Highway 60, Thompson hopes for more than just the foot traffic local businesses in the vicinity attract.“When I had done shows before in the Valley and people asked me, ‘Where do you live,’ and I answered, ‘Wickenburg,’ they offered that they would come into town, because they heard it was a great place to shop,” Thompson said. “But they only saw a couple of restaurants and an antique store. They’re talking about that little strip right there. Most people who aren’t familiar with Wickenburg don’t know you have to turn on Tegner to go to the shopping, so I’m going to capture all the people coming into town who don’t know to do that. I love the location. I prefer it over what’s on Tegner. All the restaurants are right there, too.”With two spots still remaining for interested vendors, the only question remaining prior to the co-op’s July 4 weekend opening is why the name?“People ask me why I named it Dirt Road,” Thompson said. “I want people to feel like they just stumbled across the coolest little place like at the end of a dirt road. I want people to come in and find things they didn’t expect to find. To travel down that dirt road in their mind and maybe make a friend, too. I’m an old romantic, I guess, so I really want it to be a special place for people to come and shop and also have that opportunity for local artists to make a living and not just squeak it out at an art show every once in a while.”