Quite a bit has changed since Lisa Sorensen and Scott Schimmel first opened Bliss at 24 Market Square in 2003. Back then people could be forgiven for guessing their little venture might not last. Few retail outlets were succeeding in a downtown that seemed to have been forgotten. But they succeeded. That store is going strong thirteen years later and in those years they also opened Bliss Home at 29 Market Square in 2005, a west Knoxville store in 2008 and they expanded the Bliss Home brand to Nashville in 2014.
The couple continues to evolve their businesses and have now decided to transition the original Bliss Home at 29 Market Square into Tori Mason Shoes. Lisa said, “I’ve felt for a long time downtown needed a shoe store,” and they’ve decided the space at 29 Market Square is more suited to that purpose at this time. The couple feels that Bliss Home would really benefit from a larger space and they also noted there are several other furniture stores downtown, including not only the traditional stores, Vine Furniture and O.P. Jenkins, but also Adorn in the Old City and Nest Knoxville, which opens today on the 100 block of Gay Street. But there isn’t a shoe store.
Saying the home store has been great, they acknowledge people want a bigger selection and it felt right to transition the downtown location to something new. They’ve also added shoes to Bliss, but there isn’t really enough room to display and store them properly there, so they decided a focus on footwear made sense. Noting that they love the landlord and the space at 29, they never considered letting it go, only re-purposing it.
While it will mean the couple will have to travel to additional markets each year to select styles, they are excited about the new possibilities. The shoe store will feature only women’s shoes, but they plan to offer a range of price points. From there they intend to let the market dictate which kinds of shoes and which price points are given more space in the store.
Plans call for closing the current store around August 1 with an interim of about two to four weeks before reopening as Tori Mason Shoes. (The name, a suggestion from friend Ben Barton, contains references to the names of each of their children, daughter Victoria and their son, whose middle name is Mason, a family name.) In the meantime, you’ll find some mark-downs and good deals in Bliss Home as they begin the transition.
The couple told me as we concluded the interview that they see a thread that connects furniture and shoes, as well as other products they offer. They are drawn to the story, the style and the fashion of it all. A few minutes with the two of them makes clear that the passion is still alive and that they will continue to innovate and make downtown Knoxville a better place to live. So, catch some sales at Bliss Home while you can and watch for the opening of Tori Mason shoes in the next few weeks. Like their Facebook page to follow updates as the opening approaches.