Damon Waxler was led into the world of memorabilia by collecting as a child. It would eventually lead to opening the store Dixie Pickers in October 2012 on Main Street in Collierville’s Town Square.
And it would be his son Dylan, a senior at Christian Brothers High School, who would lead him into the world of lacrosse.
Waxler and his wife, Dawn, opened Battleground Lacrosse, an equipment and supplies store for the sport, just across the square from Dixie Pickers on Nov. 1.
Damon Waxler and his wife, Dawn, have opened Battleground Lacrosse on Main Street in Collierville’s Town Square.
(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)
Dylan plays for CBHS and with the traveling team No-Excuse, and on trips to the Northeast, the family would stop in at lacrosse stores, a common site in that region. In Memphis, though, Battleground is the only such store. When Damon began to consider it, he was introduced to Rhett Douglas, who owns a shop in Nashville and was looking at coming to West Tennessee, and the two would become business partners.
“I knew nothing about it,” says Waxler, a former high school football player and shot-putter, of his knowledge of the sport before his son strapped on a helmet and took up the stick. “I’d love to say I had a passion for it my whole life, but I didn’t know that much about it.”
Lacrosse is a newer sport in the South, its popularity gaining purchase in the past decade or so with teams in area schools such as Collierville High School, Memphis University School, Houston High School and White Station High School. Rhodes College has had a men’s lacrosse team for years and has added a women’s NCAA team only this school year.
Being the only specialty lacrosse store in the area – a previous store, Stickhead Lacrosse, has since closed – Battleground has become a destination for those interested in the sport. Of the schools that offer the sport, and the youth-oriented Collierville Lacrosse Club, Waxler says, “All of those programs are big, they’re very big … so from a numbers standpoint, as far as how many people are playing lacrosse right now, the majority is on this end” of the city.
In opening as a destination in a historic setting, Waxler hopes customers who might not have been to the square before will spend time there and frequent the other shops and restaurants the quaint village has to offer.
“We’re bringing in new people to the square, both of my businesses are,” he said. “We’re bringing a customer that a lot of them have never even heard of the Collierville Town Square. … Every week it picks up in sales.”
Waxler wanted something he hadn’t seen on those visits to the Northeast. He eschewed the gleaming chrome, white slat walls and neon that seemed typical in those stores and, taking a style cue from Dixie Pickers, and in recognition of the historic site on the Town Square, the 3,000-square-foot store has a more rustic feel and look with its natural age and cedar wood.
“It’s a different vibe when you walk in,” he said.
Battleground currently has six employees, including manager Jason Rudolph with his background as a lacrosse player for Limestone College in South Carolina. Dawn Waxler splits her time between the family’s two stores and she and her husband both have retail experience from earlier days.
When Damon and his cousins sold the three-generation family business, the barge company Waxler Transportation, seven years ago, the husband and wife team were casting about for new opportunities. They’d done a lot of traveling and, naturally, shopped on those trips. The idea of Dixie Pickers began to form.
“There was nothing like this here,” he said. They looked at different towns around Tennessee for the store but Collierville, he said, “just felt right.” In the site of McGinnis Hardware Store which occupied the building for 146 years, Waxler describes the shop as a “mantique” shop, a men’s store with items of clothing, hunting wear and accessories, sports memorabilia and vintage collectibles like old metal gas station and advertising signs.
“We love sports,” Waxler says of his family, a fact on display in the rustic memorabilia of Dixie Pickers and the sticks, pads, balls and face masks of Battleground Lacrosse.