The historic past has inspired the future of many business owners in Spokane Garland, including local artist Chris Bovey, who opened a store in Garland earlier this month.
His new store, Vintage Print + Neon, is located at 914 W. Garland Ave., between Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle and the Garland Theater. For Bovey, the location is ideal.
“There’s a lot of history here,” Bovey said. “I’ve done a lot of landmark prints, and I’m sandwiched between the two.”
Bovey looks at the quirks and features that make Spokane special. His silkscreen prints have a vibrant retro look and feature iconic local landmarks – including the Dick’s Hamburger, Donut Parade and Riverfront Park’s “Trash Goat”.
Although he’s been selling the prints on Etsy for years, Bovey recently decided it was time to expand.
“I wanted to do more than just print,” Bovey said. “Now people can print their own shirts; that’s something I couldn’t do until I had my place.”
Vintage prints are widely welcomed at the garage door entrance, and neon arrows guide customers in.
Bovie’s prints, rusted license plates and refurbished neon signs are scattered on the interior walls. With Bruce Springsteen playing overhead and Donkey Kong arcade cabinets leaning against the wall, the store gives customers a sense of nostalgia. Customers can print their own silk-screened T-shirts in-store or purchase a range of merchandise featuring Bovey’s work.
Shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, water bottles and more can now be found at Vintage Print, but the selection keeps growing.
“The socks and pillows are new, and I want to wear an apron later,” Bovey said.
Currently, neon lights are only used as decorations in the store.
“I’m still learning my skills with neon,” Bovey said. “Soon we’ll have more neon signs for sale here.”
The store doubles as Bovey’s studio and storefront. When a customer is shopping, he prints to keep up – the silkscreen process is all done by hand. Though laborious, Bovey plans to pass on his skills to others. He will soon be hosting a print pint night at Vintage Print, inviting community members to enjoy drinks and create their own silkscreen art.
In Garland, this kind of community building is key, as the area is made up of local businesses that now have to compete with chain stores and online stores to stay afloat.
The Garland Theatre has agreed to partner with Vintage Print for upcoming movie screenings, encouraging customers to purchase certain prints in exchange for free movie tickets.
Giant Nerd Books is another business that has recently started calling the Garland District home. Owner Nathan Huston stopped by Bovey’s store on opening weekend to show his support.
“Chris is a good guy,” Houston said. “He’s perfect for honoring a lot of Spokane history that might otherwise be overlooked.”
Bovey’s ability to commemorate Spokane’s history gives viewers of his work a glimpse into the past.
The White Elephant, a locally owned sporting goods store that closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, is the latest example of a defunct landmark that Bovey has managed to preserve in his art. Others that disappeared include the Manito Park Zoo and the Hastings Bookstore. Thanks to Bovey, the legacy of these places lives on.
Bovey has a series of prints depicting vintage signs for Spokane area high schools and colleges.
His designs at Gonzaga University, featuring a retro rendition of the Spike Bulldog, are currently sold in in-store prints, apparel and engraved ThermoFlask water bottles. A few other prints also reference GU, such as the “Home Cookin'” print, which pays homage to Zags basketball.
Although the Spokane area is his main focus, Bovey has begun to occupy other positions in his art. He now offers prints of National Parks, the Oregon Coast, and Puget Sound. There seems to be no end to Bovey, and Vintage Print + Neon just opens the door for new projects to arrive.