ST. GEORGE —As the curtain falls on the much-loved Modern Farm and Artisan Co-op (MoFACo), a promising new chapter begins.

Audra Thompson, her Husband Troy Thompson and their daughter Emma Thompson prepare to open their new store Nature’s Edge in downtown St. George, Utah, Jan. 29, 2024 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

The location’s new store – Nature’s Edge: Where Nature and Art Collide – is dedicated to illuminating and celebrating the diverse creations of Southern Utah’s talented artistic community.

And for the owners, local artists matter in a big way. That’s because one of them is a local artist herself.

“Local artists — that’s the backbone of the community,” owner Audra Thompson said. “I love being able to bring things together under one place. Whether you’re local or from a different state, you can come and see local art and local rocks and things that come from the area that the community has created, and take a little piece of that home with you.”

When St. George News last caught up with Audra Thompson, she was busy with her family’s silversmithing and lapidary business Dandelion Studios

Jewelry by Dandelion Studios includes silversmithing and lapidary work, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Audra Thompson, St. George News

She, her husband Troy and their 22-year-old daughter Emma have built and run the business together. Each of them plays a different role: Thompson leads the creativity, her daughter cuts the stones and her husband manages the business and scales for growth.

While Dandelion Studios is a predominately online business, it also had a display inside MoFACo for over two years. Thompson knows the importance of having local art on Main Street that allows artists to shine because that’s exactly what MoFACo did for her.

After having showcased Dandelion Studios at a rock show, the family realized how much they enjoyed the personable, face-to-face interaction that in-person sales offered in comparison to online sales. 

“It was so fun talking to people at a show about the things that we love and that they love and just that human interaction that I felt like is missing,” she said.

They decided to open a brick-and-mortar business and loved the spot MoFACo had on Main Street. Unavailable, they were in the middle of looking for storefronts in Springdale when they heard the news that the co-op would not be renewing its lease. 

Nature’s Edge: Where Earth and Art Collide showcases work by local artisans, St. George, Utah, Jan. 29, 2024 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

It was a bittersweet moment. While Thompson was sad the store was closing, she also wanted to continue the legacy of celebrating local artists. She said former MoFACo owner Kat Puzey created a beautiful thing that the community needed, and it’s an honor to take over the space.

Puzey, who personally owns four pieces from Dandelion Studios, said from the first time she met Thompson she was struck by her open and playful nature which she also implements into her jewelry.

“She is extremely passionate about her work and collaborating with other locals,” Puzey said. “I think her and Troy are the perfect people to continue being the voice of local on Main.”

Jewelry by Dandelion Studios is for sale inside the store, and the lapidary side of the business includes real dinosaur bones and dinosaur waste. Thompson also turned the 700-square-foot area upstairs into her jewelry studio. 

A private consultation room is set up downstairs for those who seek custom-commissioned jewelry pieces. Inside the consulting room, customers are greeted by the exposed brick on the back wall, creating a historic yet urban feel. To the left of the brick lies a vibrant skull mural framed in gold. The mural was created by Thompson, and it’s something she adores.

A mural by Audra Thompson is on display inside her private consultation room at Nature’s Edge, St. George, Utah, Jan. 29, 2024 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

While the new store does feature local artists, Thompson emphasized that it is not an artist co-op like the previous store. No volunteer hours are required for featured artists, and the store takes a flat percentage of the artist’s commission on each sale.

“We checked all around the state, and we come in lower than average,” she said about the percentage. “And we feel like that’s super fair.”

Nature’s Edge is currently full for creators of wall art, but they are looking for a woodworker, leatherworker, sculptor, glass blower and more. They plan to limit the types of artwork they accept so similar artists aren’t competing under the same roof.

As for the uniquely historic building, the family’s quirky personalities are the perfect fit. Thompson said the boarded, barred and brick-filled windows of the store were created during the Prohibition era, creating an interesting dynamic.

“It’s just a really cool old building,” she said. “Quirky, with all the weird little things. It’s super fun. And we’re weird. We’re such square-pegged people. We just never have fit in the mold.” 

Husband Troy Thompson said what he’s most excited about is overall growth. Growth for the business while watching St. George grow, growth in the art community and the ability to help other artists grow their brand and gain exposure.

Nature’s Edge: Where Earth and Art Collide showcases work by local artisans, St. George, Utah, Jan. 29, 2024 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

“I’m not an artist,” he said, laughing. “I couldn’t draw a stick figure. But I’m good at helping things grow, seeing the opportunity and seeing the talent.”

“We’re so excited,” Audra Thompson added. “This store is going to be a compilation of so many things.”

The couple hopes to implement a first Friday open house with hors d’euvres and champagne every month while utilizing the outdoor space behind the building. They also plan to have an “apothecary” in the back of the store that will feature homemade food such as candy, jam and jelly, homemade dog treats, soaps and more.

Nature’s Edge: Where Earth and Art Collide is located at 55 N Main Street in St. George. Join the store’s grand opening on Friday, Feb. 2, at 10 a.m. See the event link for more information.

Store hours are Monday-Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays, from noon to 4 p.m. For more information on Nature’s Edge, visit them on Facebook and Instagram.

Photo Gallery

Lapidary work with dinosaur bones by Dandelion Wishes lines a shelf inside Nature’s Edge: Where Earth and Art Collide, St. George, Utah, Jan. 29, 2024 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

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