Trendsetter Jay Knox has a vision for how you want to shop, and he’s making it happen — starting right here in Charlotte.
The fashion guru knows you want local goods. He knows you want them to be hand-crafted. He knows you want coffee, and he knows shopping should be an experience.
Knox opened Outpost Mercantile in Elizabeth this past weekend. The coffee, tea and Belgian waffle outfit, Outpost Café, opens officially on Monday. The retail and coffee spot is located next to Hawthorne’s Pizza at 1707 E. 7th St. in a building owned and used for production by Colsen Keane Custom Leather Goods.
“There’s something new in Elizabeth to do. You’ve got an older building that’s been here for a while that has a cool, vintage vibe to it, and now you can come here and support local, support stuff that’s hand-made right here in Elizabeth,” Knox said.
Colsen Keane has been in the spot since May, hand-crafting leather products on-site and selling them to what has been a mostly e-commerce customer base. “Not only do we sell local, but we make it here as well,” said Colsen Keane owner Scott Hofert. “The idea of something leather or quality clothing — it’s all very visceral.”
Now, with the addition of Mercantile, Colsen Keane’s items are on display, retail-showroom style. While you’re there, check out the other micro-retail spots: Camp North End-based Prism Supply Co. offers T-shirts, stickers and other items. Glass blowing and pottery is available. Vintage and vintage-inspired designer clothes are for sale (men’s clothes are already there; women’s arrive next week). There’s even a therapist and a fine jeweler on site.
With Colsen Keane’s production still being done right behind the coffee counter while you watch, it’s all interactive. Add coffee and — boom — you’ve got yourself an experience. Stop by the cafe, order a latte served AeroPress style with Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters or a local roaster on rotation.
Then pick out a leather belt, journal or bag and have them emboss it right in front of you. Colsen Keane does a lot of custom work, so if you have an idea for a new desktop or a messenger bag, talk it out over some matcha tea or a cold-brew coffee.
If that’s not enough to sway you, Belgian waffles will be served with a custom Golden Cow Creamery ice cream flavor — charcoal honey crunch.
Fashion is Knox’s specialty, and his company supplies items to national retailers including Nordstrom and Foot Locker. Yet — shoppers want local, he said. “In fashion especially, styles are different based on geography.”
The e-commerce portion of Outpost Mercantile will allow people to shop locally all over the world. No matter where you live, you can still order a ring or necklace sold at Outpost Mercantile made from a North Carolina quarter. But if you’re in town, head on over to the brick-and-mortar spot for the in-person experience. “We don’t just open a retail store and hope people come,” Knox said. “We show retailers how to expand.”
Charlotte is serving as the first spot for Knox’s shopping concept. He’s already got locations in Asheville, Atlanta and Miami ready to gear up next.
“Jay is helping create this in here, in terms of culture,” Colsen Keane’s Hofert said. “Come in and grab a cup of coffee. Spend some time hanging out, shop some quality wares — and do it in your neighborhood.”