Shop Local: Blue Skies

Blue Skies has branded itself as “the place for the perfect little gift.” An independent shop in Chattanooga’s Northshore district, the inventory is whimsical, imaginative, and always changing: A ceramic whale vase for small succulent plants. Paper star lanterns. Keychains made out of recycled license plates. Silver lithograph necklaces. Tote bags and coin purses rocking the likeness of Dolly Parton and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. And, a long-time Chattanooga favorite, handmade ceramic flowers by Blue Skies employee Denise Shropshire.

In 2022, the most sought after items at Blue Skies seem to be bronze botanical artisan jewelry by Michael Michaud and Chattanooga-inspired stickers, says inventory manager Denise Shropshire. An artist herself, Shropshire creates handmade ceramic flowers for the store.

“I know exactly how many I’ve made,” she says with a gentle giggle, reflecting on a decade of partnership with Blue Skies. “I’ve made over 4,000 flowers.

Shropshire became an artist at age 35 when she received pottery lessons from a local artist as a birthday gift. Now 61, she’s created a collector’s item that has gone home with thousands of Chattanooga visitors. For Shropshire, each ceramics session begins with three pounds of clay and a flat roller. She textures the clay with lace and leaves before cutting, drying, and firing. Each flower is a standard daisy and varies by color and size.

Shropshire says many of her stoneware daisies are purchased by customers annually as a birthday gift for themselves or a friend. Others use the flowers as an alternative to fresh flowers, displaying them in small vases or glasses, or adding them to flower pots as an accent at home.

Located on Frazier Avenue adjacent to Coolidge Park, Blue Skies is also known for its window displays. In October, you can find the store’s iconic Halloween skeletons posed with a message specific to something significant to the community. One year, the skeletons promoted voter turnout in elections. Another year, they championed saving the nearby post office from closure. 

 Shropshire says Blue Skies aims to offer items no one else is selling in town, establishing relationships with artists and vendors who will agree to only contract with their store in Chattanooga. This means the items you’ll find in the store cannot be found anywhere else in the Scenic City. For hours of operation, call Blue Skies at 423-266-8010.

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