"If it's not going to be fun for me, I'm not interested in doing it," says Danni Iosello. She can usually be found performing in Sin Ropas, the Marshall-based/world-touring indie-rock duo (Iosello plays percussion, her husband Tim Hurley plays guitar and sings), but, after an especially potent dinner of garden-grown pesto, Iosello went to sleep and dreamed up a new project: A store called Foreverland.
A week and a half later, she'd rented the space, lined up her suppliers and set an opening date. "I enjoy being completely immersed in something," says Iosello.
Though Foreverland — located in a low, concrete block building across from Warren Ponder Auto Supply on Marshall's Main Street — will open its doors on Friday, Aug. 13, the shop promises to be a long-term work in progress. And that's not because Iosello doesn't know what she wants.
The musician, who moved to WNC from Chicago (first in the late '80s, when she worked for local designer Pattiy Torno and again in 2004, when she and Hurley set up their home base in Madison County), dreamed as a teenager of running a boutique. "In Chicago, there were these giant supermarket-sized thrift stores. I was really into punk rock and into dressing in clothes that you couldn't find in a regular store, so I just started buying [at thrift stores], and found that I really liked it, and really had a knack for picking out things that other people wanted."
That's still true today: Iosello — whose Bohemian-cool personal style is at least partly informed by a couple decades in bands — occasionally holds wildly successful yard sales of her own collected garments. Foreverland will operate along similar lines: Iosello will carry clothing, house wares, gifts, artwork and even specialty musical instruments from designers and makers she's hand-picked. To set the mood, the store's sign and accompanying mural on the sliding doors were both painted by Asheville artist Luca Dipierro, whose delicate and fanciful work will be represented in the store.
Other offerings include apparel from The Red Heart (by Natasha Shealy), FARM (Olivia Shealy) and Simbach Design (Lois Simbach); jewelry, cards and prints by Kelly Kelbel; paper art (including bells) by Earthly Bellz (Anne Schneider) and pottery from Suzanne Kraman.
The musical instruments include found-object pieces by Hurley ("handmade, quirky instruments including hurdy gurdies, thumb pianos, stick banjos," explains Iosello), synthesizer modules from Tony Rolando of Make Noise and "little horns" stereo speakers from Specimen, the creations of luthier Ian Schneller (composer/musician Andrew Bird works with these speakers).
"And whatever else evolves, whatever people seem to want," Iosello adds. "I'm really excited to see what people approach me with, and I'm open to looking at all that stuff." Hence the work in progress. Part of that is because Marshall — with its growing arts community, increasing tourist population and referendum approving beer and wine sales — is a bit of a work in progress itself.
Take Good Stuff Grocery, which began a few years ago as a natural foods seller but has evolved into a stop-off for sandwiches, wine and live music. The town itself, with its small but tight-knit group of residents (840 according to the 2000 Census) supports an anything-goes atmosphere. (The town has an annual mermaid parade and was the setting for indie film All The Real Girls, among other claims to fame.)
"There's a sense of freedom," says Iosello. "We used to have roller skating on Monday nights on Main Street." That no longer happens — too much traffic — but still, "I think there's a sense of adventure."
That's why, in addition to selling unique gifts and handmade items at Foreverland, "We're putting a screen up and we're going to do outdoor movies and themed-movie nights," says Iosello. "Luca's going to do an Italian movie night. As much as we feel like it, we can do whatever we want there."
The first movie will screen at Foreverland's grand opening around 9:30 p.m. That night coincides with Marshall's monthly "French Broad Friday" — a themed street fest of sorts that takes place the second Friday of the month, June through September. "Open stores, studios and galleries. Music, dining and more," reads the event's website (madfbf.blogspot.com). Foreverland's opening will also include music and locally-brewed beer, perfect for an auspicious (if, perhaps, unpredictable) beginning.
Alli Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
where: Main Street, Marshall
when: Grand opening Friday, Aug. 13 (part of French Broad Fridays in Marshall, 5 to 9 p.m.; Outdoor movie screening at 9:30 p.m.)