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Eclectic outdoor furnishings fill Redstone store

Dan Bischoff, Of the Record staff

The eclectic mix of products found in Mountain Ambiance, in a way, reflects owner Janet Townsley’s life.

The store, which opened its doors Dec. 16, offers customers paintings, wildlife and nature photography, handmade jewelry, all kinds of hand-crafted wood bed frames, couches, stools, antler adorned lamps, chandeliers, coat hangers and even toilet seats.

"It’s a lot of things you don’t see anywhere," Townsley said.

She opened the store for various reasons; one of them is because she couldn’t find the merchandise she was looking for.

"I moved here a year-and-a-half ago and couldn’t find what I wanted, and what I could find was beyond my budget," Townsley said. "I wanted to have unique, handcrafted items for my home."

Townsley grew up in North Carolina where her father customized furniture.

"I guess that’s where it started," Townsley said.

Making the circle back to furniture, though, took her awhile. She studied theater arts then became a chef. Her 14-year career as a private chef took her around the world. She lived by the motto "Just fall in where life takes you."

Her travels are where she developed her passion for jewelry. She makes much of the jewelry sold in her store.

"My jewelry comes from China, France and India. It’s what I saw and liked when I traveled the world," she said.

After she moved to Utah, opening a jewelry store germinated in her mind.

"I considered opening a jewelry store for about a year," Townsley said. "It was a personal passion of mine, I saw styles I liked and I put different jewelry together at parties and people always loved what I put together, so I started a home business."

What she gained from her travels wasn’t limited to jewelry, however.

"I’ve been creative all my life," she said. "I’ve enjoyed food, art and I’ve really enjoyed photography."

On the walls of her store are scenic outdoor photographs of herds of elk and antelope, alligators, waterfalls and barns, all of them shot by Townlsey.

Townlsey eventually settled down in California for 25 years. Catering, Townsley said, wasn’t a good career move for her family so she and her husband dabbled in real estate, the seafood business and developed a successful roofing company. Throughout that time, her family would travel to Park City to ski. Ultimately, they decided to move here.

"It’s a better life for my family," Townsley said. "For a dozen years we’ve been coming here to ski, so one day we moved here. The schools here are great, the horseback riding, there are happy people and a great environment."

Townsley said one of the most enjoyable aspects of living here is the amount of photography options available because of the scenery. The first day her family moved here, she traveled to Provo Canyon and snapped a shot of Bridal Veil Falls. A framed, enlarged photo of the falls hangs on the store wall.

The store’s concept was born when she and her husband Jonathan took a trip to Bear Lake recently. They found and bought a house in the area that was two-thirds finished. The builder, Tom Bashford, owned a furnishings store with a western mountain theme.

"I thought, this would be great in Park City," Townsley said. "He wanted a store in Park City for years."

So, they joined forces along with Marty Phipps, whose sons handcraft most of the beds and furniture, and started planning Mountain Ambiance.

"We didn’t have the idea until November."

They searched for a prime and found it in the Redstone area on Ute Blvd.

"Location and finding the right place and making sure its affordable is huge," she said. "I feel like I got real fortunate."

She advertised her opening day and said 135 people came to visit the store on a night with temperatures below zero. The location brings many curious eyes, she said.

"People still come by here a lot," Townsley said. "It’s a good location near the (Redstone) center and the post office."

After teaming with her husband on other entrepreneurial ventures, she said advertising is important. She learned her lesson from doing the marketing with their other businesses. The ones that fail, she said, don’t advertise.

The space she is renting used to be home to a health food store, she said. It was vacant for a significant time and there had to be some work done in a short period.

Townsley gives Bashford most of the credit for preparing the store.

"He did all of the remodel," Townsley said. "The roof was leaking, the carpet was nasty. He came up with three guys and stayed in Park City for three days. They installed the fireplace and cleaned up this space in three weeks."

About 75 percent of the products are handmade by local and regional artists. A lot of the hickory wood furniture is handcrafted by Amish craftsmen in Pennsylvania. If customers have an idea, they can request a design and Mountain Ambiance can provide custom-made furniture, jewelry or whatever the customer wants.

Aside from the antler lamps and the western theme, there are also leather couches and items that could belong in many homes.

"I was trying to keep it in a mountain theme, not necessarily country and cabin," Townsley said.

The store at this time has become her next passion in life.

"I can’t put my heart and soul into something I don’t enjoy. I offer something unique, creative and affordable," Townsley said.

Townsley didn’t merely open the store because of a financial need.

"It’s not specifically for money," she said. "It’s to be creative and I like to do different things. That’s why I don’t do something for more than 10 years. I always like creating and having something to do. I can only ski and play tennis so much."

Mountain Ambience is located at 1680 Ute Blvd. For more information, call 645-9300.


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