In 1994 my sister, Donna Mercer, and I were brainstorming ways to support our 1934 family mountain house in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and also preserve traditional arts. We came up with the Dan Springs Collection, named for a cool mountain spring just down the road from the house, with a teaching initiative component, Traditional Arts Preservation Program. We make and sell finely crafted dolls and gift items and offer various art appreciation and sewing classes. My daughter, Julia Boltz, joined us in 2010. She contributes her charmingly crocheted items and a musician’s perspective. As part of our focus on heritage preservation, we offer children a opportunity to power a hand crank sewing machine to make their own rice bag. For the past couple of summers, the greatest challenge at South of the James Market has been keeping up with demand for our story dolls, particularly Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. Talking and visiting with customers and other vendors at South of the James is an important part of our product development. We’ve added goats, unicorns, owls, and dragons as a result of those conversations. Three words that describe our products? “Whimsy, Creativity, TrAdition (with a capital A for Art).” Dan Springs Collection items are available at the South of the James Market throughout the summer and at occasional Christmas markets.