Aundrea Owens came of age during the 1960s on Clinton Street in the former neighborhood known as the “Bottom.” Even though the decade was full of unrest and turmoil, as a young girl she said she was mostly oblivious to it.
“I remember coming up here to Maher’s shoe shop with my mom,” Aundrea said. “Then, we would go to Magee’s Bakery and get a meringue cup. Then we would go down St. Clair and stop at the Little Hawk restaurant. You could get hamburgers for a quarter. We would go to JC Penney and Horn Drug Store.
“My daddy (who is deceased) is thinking, ‘I can’t believe Aundrea owns a store on Main Street,’” she said.
Located at 228 W. Main St., is Aundrea’s store, The Drip Drop Shop, which she operates with her husband, Darnell Owens. The couple met in 2001 when Darnell went to Aundrea’s office at her state job for an interview.
“He said he saw me two years before that walking down the street in my neighborhood and he told his friend that I was the woman he was going to marry,” she said.
Darnell admitted that was the story. Darnell came to Frankfort in 1996 to attend Kentucky State University after he was discharged from the Army. He grew up in Rochester, New York.
The two married 18 years ago. They both worked several years for the state before Aundrea eventually started her own hospice care business. Darnell now works for Beam Suntory at the Old Grand-Dad plant in Frankfort. They lived a quiet life in the country for years. But, after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, they developed a new view on life.
“We were thinking about how (COVID-19) interrupted the world, not just our lives,” Darnell said. “As that fog came to clear, we were thinking ‘how do you stabilize your life?’ We wanted to be in control. Let’s invest in ourselves and lean on and stand with our community members. It just felt right.”
They sold their house and moved into the upstairs apartment at 228. W. Main St., above The Drip Drop Shop, and came up with the concept for the store.
“We offer a marketplace for independent sellers to sell their wares,” Darnell said. “It’s a unified boutique opportunity for local artists and designers to sell their products. We don’t charge booth rent or fees. We split the sales with the entrepreneur.”
About 70% of the store is goods being sold by the Owenses. Aundrea sells handmade jewelry and they sell clothing they source from American firms, Darnell said.
“We put an emphasis on clothing made in the USA,” he said.
Aundrea said she used to shop at Nitro when it was located at the corner of West Main and Lewis streets.
“We’re not trying to do the same thing, but she’s missing that,” Darnell said. “We hooked up with a couple of vendors Nitro used. We wanted to kind of replace that in downtown.”
Some products by local artists include books and crafts by Shannon McRoberts, Paparazzi Accessories by Robin A. Winkfield, candles by Crystal Scents, paintings by artists Michael Blake Nelson and Albert Harris, hand-painted ornaments and jewelry by Mary Anna Bennett Rogers, a clothing line called Lion Hearted by Amani Jones, a book by mother and daughter duo Renita Hudson and Re’Annah Ramirez of Lawrenceburg and more.
Darnell said Renita — the mother and author of the book “What Can I Be?” — and her daughter, Re’Annah, the illustrator, did a reading of the book during Candlelight Weekend.
“She did very well,” Darnell said. “She sold half of her inventory that night.”
Other products by young entrepreneurs include Violet’s lotion made by two girls, 9 and 11 years old, who go to Peaks Mill Elementary School.
“We like to support even that small bit of entrepreneurship,” Darnell said. “We want to sell unique things and offer unique opportunities. We want to showcase the fact that Frankfort has a lot to share.”
They also sell suits from W&W Fashions owned by William Morton who used to have a shop in the same storefront the Owenses currently occupy.
“W&W Fashions was one of the first Black shops that opened on Main Street,” Darnell said. “This is full circle. We are definitely happy to be connected to our history.”
But more than anything, Darnell said they are excited to give people a reason to come downtown.
“Downtown is making a comeback and we want to be part of the reason to come downtown,” he said. “I’m a Downtown Frankfort Inc. board member and we’re excited about the things Suzy Hosley is doing. She’s been a great partner.”
The Owenses mentioned the Witches Night Out event, Candlelight Weekend and the traveling Elf on the Shelf competition that has brought many people into their shop. They also credited the Frankfort/Franklin County Tourist and Convention Commission for its work to bring people to downtown Frankfort.
“One day I served a customer from Kansas, Austria, Texas, London and New York, all in one day,” Darnell said. “Hats off to tourism, the bourbon business and DFI. Hopefully, we’ll be a part of the reason people are coming back.”
The Owenses have enjoyed having their shop, but they don’t plan to stop there with their venture in entrepreneurship.
After the first of the year, they are planning to launch Vine Time Tours, a tour company that will lead groups on VIP tours of area wineries. Tourists will be able to do tastings and meet the owners of the wineries. They want the company to be geared toward women.
“We want to build an adventure and experience company for women,” Darnell said.
This isn’t Darnell’s first experience at entrepreneurship — he’s had the spirit his whole life.
“When I was a kid in my 20s, I tried to start a record company but that failed,” he said, “but, I did discover a guy. I have an eye for talent.”
He also at one point started an insurance company, but the company failed because he didn’t have the time needed to devote to it.
“Businesses take care and need feeding just like a child,” he said.
When asked what kind of advice he would give someone trying to start a business, he said, “have fun, do what you love, but do your homework.”
“Be prepared to fail and fall flat on your face, and if you can’t take that, don’t do it,” Darnell said. “Don’t go out there half cocked. Have a plan. Don’t go out and reproduce what someone else is doing. Be prepared to adapt. Don’t make it a love project. If you do, you’ll end up with a bunch of things you want, but you won’t have happy customers.”
Aundrea recommends that future entrepreneurs do their research and find out what is missing in the community.
“When Nitro left, there were no clothing stores down here at all,” Aundrea said. “You also need a lot of prayer and you have to step out on faith.”
Darnell is excited to see what the future holds for him and Aundrea.
“We can blossom and grow together,” he said. “I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit. I want to grow with someone and be a part of that ride. I talk it. She walks it. She loves people and loves animals. She has a really big heart. She’s Frankfort through and through.”
For more information, follow The Drip Drop Shop on Facebook. The store is open 1-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday.