Honeymouth to Leave Old City Location

Honeymouth, 125 South Central, Knoxville, February 2024
Honeymouth, 125 South Central, Knoxville, February 2024

After about three-and-a-half years at 125 South Central Street in the Old City, Honeymouth will close operations there this Friday as owner Georgia Vogel searches for a new location. When the location opened in September 2020 the business was already more than two years old, as Georgia had built the business first through Instagram and then through her own website.

When she opened the storefront, she also worked as a teacher for Knox County Schools, a position she left as the business grew. Starting during the worst of the pandemic brought its challenges, but she said that Thomas Boyd (her landlord) generously gave her the time she needed to get up and running. Georgia’s mother, Bebe, said that people were very supportive of local businesses during those early months, and it helped them get off to a solid start.

Georgia said, “The whole landscape of retail has changed dramatically since we first opened our business . . . People just don’t shop in-store as much as they used to . . . There is so much buying online — and I do it too!” She said while their workshops still sell out, other public events don’t attract as many people as was true prior to the pandemic.

She said even First Friday is quieter than it used to be. “We have a large number of clients around Knoxville who still have us ship their bags to them.” She said online sales have continued to be a driver for the business and they’ve sold bags all over the world — though they are waiting for their first sale in Africa (anybody out there want to step into that breech?).

Honeymouth, 125 South Central, Knoxville, February 2024

She said the fact that some people find coming downtown and parking to be difficult contributed to wondering about another location. She said so much is packed into First Fridays that there are fewer people for each event as they compete for interest, and she’d like to see events spread out more throughout the month. She said they also do “a lot of corporate gifts for businesses, menus for a lot of companies, and it’s projects like those that allow us more time for the creative side of the business.

Originally the location at 125 South Central held both manufacturing, which was all done by hand at that time, and retail. Eventually manufacturing moved elsewhere as they grew and purchased large machinery to do more of the work. Georgia said that changed the feel of the business. “That was such a big part of the draw for our business — people making that immediate connection that the products were made here.”

She said the foot traffic changed when people could no longer walk in and see the process. “I think what makes us unique and special and our relationship with our clients special is that they can see us making it, they know where we get our materials, they know what our faces look like and who we are.” That led them to wanting to re-unite the manufacturing and retail, but they can’t functionally do that in their current building due to the size of the machinery and their accompanying power demands. Their team has also expanded.

She said they also need a location without residences overhead since they sometimes work odd hours, and the machinery can be very loud. “We really need a space that’s more industrial, but where people can still come in and see what we’re doing and enjoy the space.” The new location will also not have full retail hours but will focus more on manufacturing and online or by-appointment sales. It’s what works better for her family (her husband will be away doing his medical residency) and, she feels, for the business.

Owner Georgia and her Mother Bebe, Honeymouth, 125 South Central, Knoxville, February 2024

They are currently looking in South Knoxville and are hopeful of finding a space. She wants to stay near downtown, if possible because she feels it fits their brand. She’s open to ideas if you know of a great space. You can reach her at 865-235-1681.

She wants to be sure to be clear that they are still a Knoxville business, “even though we are going online for the time being.” They will continue to have a local pick-up site for leather goods, and their website is up, functioning and waiting for your order. “We are still completely present, and we intend to do pop-ups around town. It’s been the most incredible three years, this location has served us well, and we’re excited to see where we land.”

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