VOL. 130 | NO. 240 | Thursday, December 10, 2015
SMALL BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT
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S.Y. Wilson and Co. Enters New Era in Arlington
By LANCE WIEDOWER
Kim Winstead found retirement boring.
After owning Stockyard Horticultural Supply on U.S. 70 in Arlington for 25 years, she sold it in the fall of 2014 and thought that she’d moved on from business ownership. But after two months of retirement, she realized she needed a new challenge.
S.Y. Wilson and Co. manager Robert Winstead is the son of owner Kim Winstead, who purchased the historic Arlington business last year and recently reopened it with a new twist.
(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)
Enter a family-run institution in Arlington, a business that has called the town’s Depot Square home since 1893.
Winstead approached Susan Wilson Hoggard in November 2014 about buying S.Y. Wilson and Co., an antiques market that has been in the same family since its founding as a general store for the Arlington community.
“She hadn’t thought about selling it but the more we talked, the more at ease she was,” Winstead said.
The purchase went through in May and the antiques mall continued operation until August. Renovations to the historic building have been underway since the purchase, and in earnest since the August closing.
Still under the S.Y. Wilson and Co. name, the business reopened Nov. 19 with a new twist as an outdoors apparel store.
The renovations weren’t necessary to continue the retail operation at 12020 Walker St., but it did enhance the space, Winstead said. There were cracks in some of the bricks, mortar that was giving out, necessary improvements to the ceiling and the electrical, heating and air conditioning.
“We could’ve moved in and not done anything to the building but we felt it needed some repair,” she said. “We needed to get it up to what we needed it to do. It has turned out beautiful.”
There wasn’t necessarily a rush to open, but having a soft opening before the Christmas season was important, Winstead said.
“We’ve had a great couple of weeks,” she said. “People seem to be excited about it. There should be a jump-start for the historic area.”
The early customers have been locals who wanted to see how the space had changed. Winstead said there have been customers who were sad the business was no longer an antiques mall, but in general there has been excitement about the new offering.
Though the business continues in the same space with its time-tested name, its focus now is on all types of active wear for people who enjoy the outdoors.
Winstead and her daughter barrel race so there is a wide selection of horse-riding attire. But her husband hunts and their son is an exercise enthusiast. So in sticking to all of the family members’ interests, there is a wide range of hunting and exercise clothing and footwear, as well.
Winstead said there is a strong market in the Arlington area for what her store offers. Prior to opening, she said horse enthusiasts had to go east to Jackson or south to Mississippi to find retailers that specialize in much of the gear she now sells.
“Everything that goes on in Arlington starts and stops at the doors of S.Y. Wilson.”
S.Y. Wilson and Co.
And while there is plenty of exercise and hunting gear at the larger big-box retailers in the Memphis area, she takes pride in being a local business owner offering the products in an historic, small-town setting in northeast Shelby County.
The target audience is an active person, typically younger than 40. Customers looking for yoga pants, Merrill shoes, Yeti coolers, kayaks or compression apparel will find it at S.Y. Wilson and Co.
As the business works to figure out what customers want, there will be products that roll off the shelves as quickly as they rolled on.
“I’m seeing right now a couple of brands that aren’t working so we’ll put them on clearance and move on,” Winstead said. “It’s a learning experience.”
While the business primarily sells outdoors products, it also focuses on the history and heritage of Arlington and the Wilson family.
Many of the old artifacts of the business remain and soon will be on display around the store’s mezzanine. The store’s old saying was that it had everything “from the cradle to the grave,” and customers will have the opportunity to see many of those items on display.
“Everything that goes on in Arlington starts and stops at the doors of S.Y. Wilson,” Winstead said. “It all stops and starts at Depot Square. It’s an historic area. We appreciate the history. We’ve tried to keep it true to what it can be. We’re the general store for the active life.”
But while the business is a traditional brick-and-mortar business, there also will be a big focus on online shopping.
“We knew you have to have something beyond brick and mortar or it’s not going to work,” Winstead said. “Some of my vendors, I can offer the entire line that I can’t do in the store.”