If you’ve strolled through Covington’s Mainstrasse Village lately, you may have stumbled upon a fun new shop—Earth to Kentucky. It opened at the corner of Ninth and Main in September of 2020 and sells an eclectic array of toys, art, t-shirts, and a lot more to thrill your inner child and outer geek.
We recently talked with Dustin Benzing, co-owner of Earth to Kentucky, about the shop. Of its unusual (and awesome) name, he says, “My wife, kids, and I [have] had the idea (and the name!) for the store for a long time.” It's a labor of love for Benzing and his wife, who still work their regular jobs in addition to curating and selling the amazing stuff in the shop. All four members of the Benzing family are artists.
What can you expect to find at Earth to Kentucky? Benzing says, “We carry designer, vintage, and bootleg toys as well as prints, paintings, and t-shirts designed for our shop by some of our favorite artists. We stick to a general theme of pulp sci-fi and old monster movies, but the main theme is just anything we like. We're fans of outsider/folk art, so there's some of that in the store and of course we have some Kentucky-themed merchandise. Colonel Sanders is our patron saint.” (Earth to Kentucky also carries works by Spencer van der Zee, who we recently profiled.)
When it comes to opening a new shop during these unprecedented times, Benzing says, “Lots of folks were excited to see something new.... especially a weirdo, niche shop open in this bizarre time. People have happy memories attached to toys. Several customers have commented that the store looks like ‘the childhood bedroom of their dreams.’” Earth to Kentucky has experienced a warm welcome from its neighborhood and the community of toy of collectors. “People seem to love the store, and many artists are excited to be a part of it,” Benzing assures. “The toy community, especially, is such a supportive one, and that enthusiasm is contagious.”
Benzing and his family have big plans for the shop going forward. He says, “We've been discovering some bizarre foreign knock-off toys that we're hoping to add to the shop. More t-shirt designs and more straight-up art will be added soon. We're planning to have one curated show per quarter. The first one will be in February called, Toy Division: Art and Toys Inspired by New Wave. The artist line-up for that show is next level.”
Check out the gallery for a peek at just some of the fun finds you'll see at Earth to Kentucky. We’re betting you could find some awesome holiday gifts there. If you want to shop in person, mask up and head over Thursday through Saturday from 11:30 AM to 6:30 PM and Sunday from noon to 5 PM.
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