I’ve talked recently about the shift happening in the Old City. Long thought of for its night life, there’s some day life emerging. Last summer, for example, I wrote about the Basement Community Art Studio located just below Lox Salon. Basement Community Art Studio, a place where children and adults can make art, is co-owned by Jennifer MacIsaac and Brynn Crowell. Brynn also owns Lox Salon and she’s about to open White Buffalo.
I met Brynn and husband Gabriel at 108 E. Jackson Avenue, the home to the new business. He’s from Buffalo, NY and the name is a tip of the hat to his hometown. The couple is expecting a baby in about four weeks and when I asked Brynn, “Why now?,” she said, “Probably because I’m pregnant.”
She went on to explain that she was pregnant ten years ago when she spotted the original space for Lox, found the owner receptive and launched the business. It has since moved and is doing well and she felt the urge to start something new. She’s believed for a long time the Old City needs more shopping and more family-friendly businesses.
She also said she knew she wouldn’t be able to work as many hours at Lox with a new baby in tow, so she decided this would be a place for young children and she’ll split her time between the two, keeping her new daughter with her when she’s at White Buffalo. Gabriel put it differently. Noting that she’s reading a biography of Teddy Roosevelt, he said the two share a tremendous work ethic, saying that Brynn doesn’t nest when she’s pregnant, she un-nests.
Brynn has seen the changes for the better in the Old City over the last decade and wants the momentum to continue. She pointed out that people stop in the salon and ask for directions to shops and she reluctantly sends them up the hill toward Gay Street and Market Square. She wants to build retail in the Old City and the new store is a step toward that goal.
She was attracted to her new address because it was essentially move-in ready (it is located at the home of the former Knoxville Pearl which closed earlier this year) and the rent was affordable. She’s concerned that the rent being charged elsewhere in the Old City is so high it will be difficult for retail to gain a footing.
What you’ll find in the new business is new and gently used children’s boutique clothing, toys and books. She’s had a significant amount of donations to get started and has a major shipment from a wholesaler coming in on Friday. The vibe throughout the shop is simple, good quality. The toys, for example, will not be plastic, Disney or cartoon-themed. What you will find are good toys for childhood development. She is open to buying, selling and trading.
She wants it to be a place parents are comfortable hanging out and where the children can be themselves, removing the false dichotomy of children’s places and adult places. She has a story area in the front where you’ll find the books and she has a great back room for which she has major plans. She’s planning story-time for toddlers and Theresa Melloy, Assistant Director at Mead Montessori Schoo,l will offer classes on early childhood development and parenting. She also hopes to offer children’s yoga and more.
The store will start with limited hours, opening on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM. It opens its doors this Saturday for the first time. Go by and see them and do some buying, trading or selling. Tell them I sent you and they’ll give you a big handshake and a “welcome” to the store, which, of course, they’ll give you anyway. And, for goodness sake, give them a “like” on their Facebook Page. As of yesterday Brynn posted the page and last night I became the first person to “like” it. Surely we can get her to 100 by the end of the day. Seriously.
Your next chance to check out the store will be Sunday. I know – it’s not a day they are open. But it is Open Streets from 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM and you’ll find Jennifer and Brynn at the corner of Jackson and Central beside the salon. You’ll be able to sign up for summer art camps or birthday parties through the Community Basement Art Studio and decorate your bike with the art supplies. The salon will be providing nail decals and their new masseuse will offer chair massages. But wait, there’s more . . . you can walk a few feet down Jackson and take a look at the new store which will be open especially for Open Streets.