VOL. 130 | NO. 97 | Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Oxn Retail Shop Prepares to Open in South Main
By Andy Meek
As part of his preparations for the new men’s clothing and lifestyle store he will soon open Downtown, Zac Woolfolk was captivated by the idea of auxin, a growth hormone in plants.
It was a straight line from there to his interest in doing something that helps Memphis itself to grow. The word is pronounced like the animal oxen, but Woolfolk – an Internet marketing strategist with Rocketfuel – decided to drop the ‘E.’ The result: a more search-friendly name for his shop Oxn and the completion of one of many steps on the road to opening behind Central BBQ in the South Main neighborhood, possibly by the end of this month.
His motivations for the store are straightforward and fueled in part by the rise of a community of homegrown Memphis entrepreneurs focused on quality, premium, artisanal and handmade goods. He cites as specific examples retailer City & State and ceramics maker Paper & Clay among his inspirations.
“There’s at least two things you do every single day – eat and get dressed,” Woolfolk said. “So why not care about those? I really try to care about not just how I look but how you feel when you get dressed. You’re more confident, you’re more comfortable, so I just kind of want to introduce people – not just to a new retail store – to a community of things that I love and that I think are really cool.”
Brands he says will have a presence on his shelves include Los Angeles-based Rogue Territory, which focuses on handmade, high-quality denim goods and apparel. Other brands include Apolis out of Los Angeles and Juneau, Alaska-based Ewing Dry Goods, which specializes in handmade leather accessories and personal carry items.
Woolfolk’s enthusiasm for his new venture via recent social media posts has been palpable. On Facebook earlier this month, for example, he told friends he’s excited, nervous and busier than he’s ever felt before.
“I’m taking a lot of risks to open this store,” he wrote, “and most days it still feels like I’m doing a senior project about creating a faux business. But no, this is real.”
Woolfolk’s shop is one of three retailers coming to Downtown as part of the MEMShop program’s new focus on the Downtown area known as Heritage Trail.
That area is bordered by Beale Street on the north, Main Street on the west, Crump Boulevard on the South and Manassas Street on the east. The other ventures joining Oxn are Makeda’s Homemade Butter Cookies and the Circuitous Succession art gallery.
MEMShop’s goal is to work with entrepreneurs to transform vacant storefronts into vibrant destinations that also increase a neighborhood’s vitality. As part of the six-week program, MEMShop participants get benefits like rental assistance, managerial training, marketing services and more.
At the end of the six weeks, the ventures will take what they've learned through the program and possibly remain in their MEMShop locations or move elsewhere, as their respective plans dictate.
A launch event for the new trio of MEMShop ventures is planned to coincide with this month’s South Main Trolley Night May 29.
In thinking about his own business, Woolfolk said he might eventually do collaborations with small makers from Memphis and nationwide.
“The idea here is made in America, quality goods and brands that are doing positive things,” he said. “I want to take the idea of these quality goods by makers from here and across the country and introduce them to the city of Memphis.”