Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes Opens at 445 South Gay Street

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

I was prepared for the new store on Gay Street to be appealing and an improvement over the offices previously at that address. Familiar with what has been offered at Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, I knew the merchandise would be attractive and appealing. I was in no way prepared for my first impression when I walked through the door: This is a good-sized department store.

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

Scott Schimmel and Lisa Sorensen first opened Bliss at 24 Market Square in 2003. That original store, was later joined by Bliss Home at 29 Market Square, a concept which they still maintain in west Knoxville. The couple changed the 29 Market Square location to Tori Mason shoes a bit over a year ago, mostly stocking it with shoes that had been crammed together in the back of Bliss.

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

In moving to the new Gay Street location, the stores gained significant square footage. Tori Mason Shoes had about 1,800 square feet of retail space, while Bliss had about 2,800. The new location has about 7,000 square feet devoted to retail space, providing about a fifty percent increase over the previous locations. That increase, plus the consolidation makes the new store seem like a much larger enterprise.

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

Certain they had added a significant amount of merchandise, I was told it isn’t the case. While there has been a small increase, the effect may simply be that the merchandise, previously crowded into a smaller space, is now visible. Urban Woman’s first read was that she found a lot of items she’d never noticed before, saying that when the old store was crowded, just navigating the aisles, particularly if the store was crowded, prevented her from seeing some of the products.

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

In addition to the increased square footage, the fact that the ceiling is so high and the natural light so prevalent, has to play a part in the feeling of spaciousness. The windows which were previously darkened, are now clear and the store is quite well illuminated in the daylight without much need of artificial lighting.

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

The move marks a return to retail for a building built for that purpose. The building we now commonly call the Miller’s Building (though I’ve heard some recently calling it the KUB Building – which will forever be down the street, for us older timers – in what will soon be called the Tombras Building – Got that?) is actually three buildings built in stages in 1905, 1911 and 1935. Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes assumes the most recently constructed portion.

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, 445 South Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

Miller’s Department store left the location in the 1950s and its recent history has included little, if any retail. KUB owns the building and seems to recognize its best use in the current resurgence of downtown Knoxville to be retail. Hats off to them for making way for this transformation and return to the building’s roots. There are several other high-profile spots along the western side of Gay Street that would do well to follow suit.

Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes, South 445 Gay Street, Knoxville, November 2017

If you haven’t already experienced the new store, do so. If you remember the old stores, you’ll be surprised. In any case, you’ll find a large selection of shoes, women’s clothing, gifts, children’s items, Knoxville-related items and much more. The store is open 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM Monday through Saturday and from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM on Sundays.

Comments

  1. A few years ago, we bought our dining table with a carved border from Bliss. Made from beautiful, dark Sheesham Wood (Rosewood) from India. We love the grain and the sturdy elegance. All the best to the new store on Gay Street.

  2. Gail Jarvis says:

    Wow oh wow! As a former County Judge who watched in despair as stores left downtown, this makes me so happy. Finally.!!! I have always felt that a town without a heart cannot grow and thrive !!! What a wonderful addition to a budding retail sector in downtown!

  3. Patricia White says:

    What a fantastic shopping experience this would be for me! If only I lived in Knoxville instead of Florida, I would enjoy browsing & shopping every nook & cranny of this amazing store. So very proud for Lisa (my niece) & Scott. I know this move will be advantageous & I wish them great success in this endeavor which is the result of much planning & hard work on their part. Congratulations, Lisa & Scott!

  4. Can’t wait to see the new spot.

    Urban Woman was correct, the store in Market Square was tight and if crowded it was hard to shop.

    I hope this is a sign of more retail coming to downtown.

  5. Great folks doing great things! Hats off to Scott & Lisa!

  6. Alan,
    Just a suggestion, but it might be wise to indicate 445 SOUTH Gay Street (vs NORTH Gay Street). Many folks have no idea there’s a difference…

  7. Christine Johnson says:

    This is fantastic!!!!

  8. Wow!!! That looks fantastic. Props to Scott and Lisa, as well as KUB for making this happen. I suppose I would be correct in assuming they still do not have a men’s selection, but I’m sure I’d still like the furniture and home decor. Seriously, I think this makes this the second-biggest retail store in Downtown Knoxville next to Mast.

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