Marketplace: Indigo Highway heeds the call of the open road in Kimball Junction
November 4, 2016
Dean and Jen Tutor were young when wanderlust opened their eyes to the marvel of a wide-open world awaiting them. They still recall the sense of wonder when they first began discovering special places together far from home.
They've spent years traveling to more than 60 countries since, finding meaning and connection in places both remote and filled with the bustle of civilization. The experiences have left them acutely aware that all humans are in some way bonded together, and they brought that philosophy to Indigo Highway, a modern general store they recently opened in Kimball Junction.
"We might speak different languages or wear different clothes or believe different things, but at the heart of it, we're all connected," Jen Tutor said. "The more you travel, the more you realize that."
Indigo Highway, inspired by the Tutors' travels, aims to infuse Park City with the spirit of the open road. The shop features a mix of goods, ranging from men's and women's clothing to home décor items, curated from small merchants in places they have been. It all fits into a carefully designed aesthetic they only half-jokingly describe as "The Little House on the Prairie" meets 2016.
The modern general store concept allows them to bring in a variety of items they think are interesting or unique. Many of the goods are handcrafted and the type of offerings customers would have a hard time finding anywhere else in Park City, or even in Salt Lake City.
"They're loving it," said Jen Tutor, who honed her aesthetic sensibilities as a stylist and art director in Hollywood. "People are like, 'Where do you find all these things? I've never even seen them.' That's fun because that's what we're trying really hard to do."
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Regular customers can expect to find new items each time they visit. The Tutors previously spent years designing and opening stores for other people, and they're now finding happiness in hunting for goods that fit an atmosphere that draws on their own passions. They intend to offer as many of those items as they can.
"We want to stay as interested as everybody else," Dean Tutor said. "We don't want the place to become stagnant. We want to keep it fresh and always be inspired by places we go or experiences we have. It'll change all the time."
More than the items they carry, though, it was the people that inspired the Tutors to open Indigo Highway. Connecting with others, for five minutes or 50, gives them a satisfaction like the one they feel at the peak of a remote mountaintop or strolling the sidewalks of a European town. They have come to realize over the years that meeting new friends or catching up with old ones is itself a grand adventure.
That's why they opened the store in Newpark, an area filled mostly with local shoppers who may come to the store time and again. To foster an even stronger sense of community, they intend to hold monthly wine, spirit and food tastings at the shop.
"We want to get to know people by face or by name, hopefully," Dean Tutor said. "We did that in the past in the spa we owned down in Salt Lake. People came in time and time again. Tourists are great, don't get me wrong — but I might never see that person again. We'd rather establish the relationships with people and see them again and again. We're part of this community."
To tie in Indigo Highway's themes of travel and connecting with other people, the Tutors got creative. Near the front of the store hangs a map of the world, and they ask new customers to pick a dream location they'd like to be in. The Tutors then affix a string from the wall to the place on the map and have the customer sign their name at the bottom.
Months after Indigo Highway opened, strings now blanket the map, and the Tutors have a host of new bucket-list destinations they'd love to visit. More importantly, the responses nearly always reveal something unique about the customers.
"That has spurred conversation, debate, philosophical approaches to it," Dean Tutor said. "Some of it superficial, but a lot of it is philosophical. People take a step back and all of a sudden say, 'You know, hold on — that's a tougher question than I thought.'"
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