If the future of brick and mortar retail is local and regional, Jacks of Knoxville is hitting all the right notes. Located at 133 South Gay Street, the new store owned and operated by downtown residents Katherine and Logan Higgins, opens today with a wide range of products from Knoxville and a bit further out. You’ll find the store on the 100 block of Gay Street, just across from Sterchi Lofts.
The couple didn’t start in Knoxville and Katherine didn’t start as an artist. She grew up in Dunwoody, Georgia in a family of architects and when she enrolled at UT, she began studying the family business. She eventually shifted to journalism, graduating in 2016.
While she didn’t see many options in her new field, she did know that she wanted to stay in Knoxville, so she got a job at a pre-school and, eventually, as a nanny. She says she’d always been a creative person and it was a summer back in Georgia working for her uncle and father’s architecture firm that helped her find her passion in watercolors as she spent the summer painting elevations on architectural drawings.
She also began work as a portrait photographer and has shot a couple of weddings and couples. For the couple’s art, which they brand as Jacks Avenue (named after their home on Jackson Avenue), she does the watercolor and lettering. She also provides the social media presence for the new business.
Logan is from Unicoi County, Tennessee and says that he grew up living in the woods, making things and knowing that he wanted to be an architect. His family lived in an A-frame house and he loved looking at the plans his father (a school teacher) had drawn for it. By age eleven he was making candles and at age fourteen he got his first table saw. He says he built elaborate forts in the woods.
As he prepared for attending UT to study architecture, he began to learn more about design and found he loved it. The two met in architecture school. He interned in Georgia with her family. The two friends eventually married and he began looking for a business opportunity, wanting to open his own business. He worked with Dollar and Ewers and Bill Andrews and still plans to pursue licensure as an architect.
The two merged their arts with her painting and lettering and his drawing and began to market it under the Jacks Avenue brand. They intend their art to celebrate local design and the work includes drawings of local buildings. As they decided to open a business, they chose the name Jacks of Knoxville to celebrate small-scale makers and businesses.
And that’s what you’ll find in the store that opens at 5:30 today with a ribbon cutting. The products are overwhelmingly local, though there are vendors from Johnson City, north Georgia and North Carolina. They will have a total of seventeen vendors to start and all products are handcrafted.
Katherine pointed out that this gives local artisans (and this couple) a chance to sell their products without the hassle of setting up and breaking down at markets. The emphasis will be on consumable and useful products.
Vendors will include Savannah Pannell who owns the Flourish flower truck. She’ll have three different sized bouquets in the store offered at $10, $15 and $20. She’ll also offer a subscription delivery to the store for people who might want weekly flowers delivered to downtown. The arrangements will be seasonal.
Meg Edwards will have her Flora Wellness natural products in the store. Her products are all plant-based and she forages for the raw materials and converts them into the products she sells, which includes skin-care products, teas, sore throat spray. She also has a line of rose and lavender hot chocolates which will be for sale. Logan and Katherine spoke very highly of it.
There will be a line of Scruffy Knox products by Elizabeth Willien and this will be the only store where these products are available. She offers local landmarks screen printed on t-shirts, napkins and stickers, as well as other products similarly branded.
The store has a grand opening tonight after the ribbon cutting. Meg will be offering free hot chocolate samples. High Line Coffee Cart will be inside the store selling local coffee. You should see a large balloon display to set your course to the store. They plan to continue First Friday events, hopefully opening up the back porch for the functions.
After today’s grand opening, the store will settle into normal hours which will initially be: Monday through Wednesday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM and Thursday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM. You can find them on Facebook (give them a “like”). You can also check out their website, where you have an opportunity to get on their mailing list for product and business updates.