Urban Outfitters Pauses in Knoxville

Cool, but friendly Urban Outfitters, Knoxville, October 2011

It was an odd sight at the corner of Church and Gay earlier this week. A make-shift barricade segmented a portion of the parking lot which was thereby pronounced a retail establishment open for business. A small sign on the sidewalk beside Gay Street declared that Urban Outfitters, after an unrequited flirtation with a permanent presence in the city opted inside for a drive-by.

Sign on Gay Street Sidewalk, Knoxville

Uber Cool Stuff for Uber Cool People

I clearly didn’t fit the demographic for which the display was so finely arrayed, so the fact that some of the way-cooler-than-I’ll-ever-be people on the premises were friendly enough to talk to me was a bonus. My primary question, however, was whether this brief foray constituted a market probe of any sort, and to that I got a clear non-response.

Dishing out the Goods, Urban Outfitters Mobile Lab

The merchandise offered by the variously tattooed, pierced and totally awesome young people was out of the extreme reaches of my fashion world. Sunglasses and clothing were strewn about as were oddities like Instamatic cameras and headphones. The entire experience was a bit surreal, but the young people were upbeat and pronounced the visit a “success!” The tour includes college towns not otherwise served by the company.

Urban Outfitters’ Mobile Home, Knoxville, October 2011

Shoppers at Urban Outfitters Mobile Fashion Response Unit

I spoke to a policeman who assured me there had been no incidents of concern. He specializes in that sort of thing, as his regular gig is the East Tennessee History Center where he only  need be concerned with occasional visits from that scruffy citizen Jack Neely. He did mention that he sometimes works at the public library which has seen a recent influx of trouble-making students from the STEM Academy waving their Ipods all about. I could only shudder to think.

Get your lavender soda on the way out!

The tour is sponsored by the Dry Soda Company, which seemed odd for a corporation to have a corporate sponsor. The drink flavors offered didn’t make me particularly thirsty, with their rhubarb, cucumber and blood orange blends.

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