'Emporium of fun and funk': Tripp's Store brings creatives, community together
Along the winding Mt. Carmel Church Road in Chapel Hill, situated in the vibrantly painted building of an old gas station, is a hidden hub for the arts: Tripp’s Store.
Described as an “emporium of fun and funk” by its founders, Tracy Kilpatrick and Danielle Lyn, Tripp's is a safe space for everything under the sun.
The store hosts acting workshops, writing classes and jams in the parking lot. It also sells art, as well as vintage and hand-stitched clothes. It offers a free library and a new free food pantry.
Through all of these projects, Kilpatrick and Lyn have one simple mission: to create community.
“People need people, and people need connection,” Lyn said. “And it’s something that we see all the time – that there’s a lot of people who are just reaching and hoping that someone sees them and interacts with them as a person.”
For many who visit Tripp's, this mission is apparent.
“When I did the class, given how relaxed and comfortable it was and how collaborative it felt, I left knowing I had made a strong connection with Tracy and Danielle, but also with everybody else in the class," Ellie Plourde, an actor who attended the Connecting the Actor to Truth studio at Tripp’s Store, said.
Another actor who attended CTATT, Siobhan Hsu, said she felt very comfortable being vulnerable as a performer with Kilpatrick and Lyn, who both have experience in the film industry.
The crowd at Tripp’s is varied. People of all ages and backgrounds visit – some looking to purchase, and some just looking for a conversation.
“We just want to have a good place with good vibes and we have the coolest people that come by here and hang out with us,” Kilpatrick said. “Some people come and buy, some people bought, and now they come back just to hang out with us and so it's pretty wonderful."
The welcoming environment can be attributed to the dynamic of its hosts. Kilpatrick and Lyn are an unlikely pairing, but they work in colorful harmony.
“She’s the kid I never had,” Kilpatrick said.
The two met when Lyn, an actor, auditioned for Kilpatrick, who is an Emmy award-winning casting director. They opened the store together in 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The store — which cannot be described simply as a store — is a space for Kilpatrick and Lyn's long list of passions.
One such project is their line of hand-stitched, upcycled clothes: “Authentissimo."
“We wanted to repurpose fabrics and items that were being discarded,” Lyn said. “We wanted to really try to push sustainability because there’s so much waste in the fashion industry.”
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The line is essentially wearable art, according to the store's website, with brightly colored stitching and painted designs.
Art is everywhere at Tripp’s, from the illustrations covering the exterior walls to the sizable collection of paintings, posters and mixed media creations within.
Their art collection includes pieces Kilpatrick created herself, works she found at auctions and art from her own personal collection of folk art, acquired over 25 years.
They also engage the community in creativity and provide a space for people to recycle their old items for art.
“We’ve got spaces in the back of the smokehouse for recycling, for art projects and things like that, so that people in the neighborhood can bring broken dishes and all that sort of stuff, and at some point we’ll do a big mosaic piece,” Kilpatrick said.
Above the art, the clothes, the music — above everything — Kilpatrick and Lyn opened Tripp’s Store for the people.
“My favorite is the people who return to us, and they come regularly, and then their faces beam when they round the corner and it just makes me so happy because they’re the fibers of why we do it,” Lyn said.
Tripp’s Store is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 12-5 p.m. for any shopping, dancing, singing, painting and conversing needs.