While Hot Horse has been open in the Old City at 108 E. Jackson since 2010, Ian Lawrence only recently took the reins. He purchased the store from Jason Boardman in March and has slowly made changes to the inventory and layout since. While some readers may know Ian as the person who helped start Nama and worked there for ten years, he’s always been involved in music.
He’s collected records since age twelve and already had an extensive knowledge of that end of the business before he made the purchase. He’s also a practicing musician, having been in the Malignmen in the 1990s and The Cheat in the 2000s. He’s currently a member of Burnin’ Itch and tours with them, but less than has been the case in the past.
As for changes to the store, the reduced clutter is immediately obvious. Many of the vintage items once lying about the store are gone and the first impression on walking in the door is that you’ve entered a music store. That wasn’t as clear in the past. Records sit to the left and guitars, drums and gear to the right.
Ian says that most any gear you need is available in the store from replacement parts on drums to guitar strings. The emphasis seems to be more on rock and roll – there are no fiddles, banjos or mandolins visible – though there were a good acoustic guitars. All the instruments are used, but in good condition. The store can see to it that your instrument is repaired (by Bolt Electric) and serve most of your musical needs. He said they even get in the occasional keyboard and amps, but not so much in the area of digital recording equipment.
Records, previously sold only on consignment, are now increasingly purchased directly and owned by Ian. He’s passionate about building this part of the business as vinyl currently holds renewed appeal to many people. I noticed several of my favorites among the records in the cases.
He currently opens a new artist exhibition each First Friday and carries the work through the month. This month’s artist is Roxann Febbo and you’ll find her drawings and paintings in the store. Ian has plans to add books to the mix eventually, and perhaps band t-shirts on consignment.
He acknowledges the music is his passion and says one of the coolest parts of the job is working with musicians who drop in – which has included some who are well known. He mentions that many of the Big Ears musicians found their way into the store and that Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top dropped in when the band had a show in town.
Another very significant change in recent months is the fact that the vendor who was providing clothing to the store moved out-of-state and took their inventory. Into that breach stepped veteran fashionista Brianna Lamberson. Many of you may know her from her long-term stint at Reruns Boutique at both its Market Square and Union Avenue locations.
Brianna has wanted her own fashion shop since she was ten-years-old and now manages the pop-up shop in the back of Hot Horse. She’s excited to have the chance to give it a try. What you’ll find in her collection is “well curated vintage and used clothing.” She hand-selects each piece and has held some for a while, but has more recently purchased other pieces on buying trips. She’s excited to utilize her life-long passion for fashion – which also extends to art and music – and she sees them all as interconnected.
She’s also determined to keep it affordable, insisting good fashion doesn’t have to be expensive. Nothing in the store is priced above $100 and prices start as low as $7. Most items range between $10 and $30. She’s had fun taking this first step and connecting to the people who have bought her clothes.
Her fashion sense is probably best understood by taking a look at her Pinterest page where she collects images that appeal to her style. Her recently updated website is also helpful. She cites Robin Richman in Chicago as an influence – she once worked there. She said the city of Chicago in general and the The School of the Art Institute, particularly, had a big impact on her view of fashion and design.
She also describes elements of Parisian fashion as well as southwestern (notices the white top and turquoise necklace) fashion. Then she mentioned the vintage era of the early twentieth century. And then there was the style icon, Bob Dylan, as well as 70’s style. So, there are lots of disparate elements that feed into her sensibility.
Brianna is bright and effusive and it shows in the fashion she has assembled as well as any conversation. I noticed some unusual items on a table and she said the items – sage from Montana and tiles from Rome were gifts from her friend KK who she met via Reruns. Brianna feels it’s important that businesswomen support one another.
Hot Horse is open seven days a week from 2:00 PM – 10:00 PM. Ian’s always there and Brianna often is, but her shop is always open in the back. Drop in and be sure to follow Hot Horse on Facebook and Instagram.