Barbara Densley and Sloane Solanto refer to themselves as “makers.” These artists met on the show circuit and eventually found themselves in business together. Since 2013, their Hilltop shop, The Creative Wedge: An Artisan Market, has celebrated the handmade from here, there and everywhere, including more than 100 Virginia vendors, many of whom the co-owners know personally.
Solanto, with a twinkly-eyed reference to her “side hustles,” happens to be one of those vendors, making their ever-popular cheese dips, printed tea towels, soy candles and small prints. Her 25 years printing T-shirts and working at the erstwhile beloved Fresh Market Deli and Fresh Fare Café have served her well. Barbara, too, is a vendor of sorts: her one-of-a-kind large mermaids often grace the front window.
Originally, this creative pair of shopkeepers-and-more assumed that cheeses would make up a larger percentage of their business, and the name “Creative Wedge” was born. But, fortunately, not wanting to pigeonhole themselves at the time, they chose a moniker that encompasses the wide cross-section of merchandise that has come to characterize the store.
Barbara typically takes the lead on merchandising where she puts to fine use the five years she managed Simply Selma’s, now closed. The displays at Creative Wedge are a wonderland of re-imagined antique store finds and repurposed furnishings, even a former rabbit hutch. Against a backdrop of fiesta-colored walls, the layout is arranged thematically. So despite the number of goods, finding one’s way is a piece of cake. Or, perhaps, wedge of cheese.
In addition to the cheeses, dips, candles and tea towels, this groaning board of a gift boutique offers other edibles like peanuts, hot sauces, Bloody Mary mix and jams, along with “lifestyle” wines, tabletop accoutrements for wine lovers (napkins, wine glasses, bottle stoppers, etc.), and Virginia ciders. But that’s not all: prints by other artists, ceramics, jewelry, global fair trade goods like baskets, sweet-and-snarky “girlfriend” items, socks, baby paraphernalia, nightlights, cards, and coastal, seasonal and holiday pieces are tucked into every nook and cranny with most priced under $50. I was particularly drawn to Kenn Young’s wood-turned wine stoppers and bottle openers, some with tasteful military insignia. I also walked out with a pair of silver earrings by Joyce Gollogly.
Creative Wedge owners Sloane Solanto and Barbara Densley.
The co-owners’ future plans include a back room studio for them to share … and (they hope) time to actually work in it. But what is unlikely to change is the market’s warm, open-minded and inclusive vibe where stories flow. And if you love dogs, even better.
Creative Wedge is located at 630 Hilltop West, Virginia Beach. Learn more by calling 757-965-9030 or visiting TheCreativeWedge.com.