When Shab Chic Marketplace launched in the Edge neighborhood last year, it brought about a unique opportunity to showcase local small businesses while providing a gathering place that promoted the arts.
The shipping container venue is the literal foundation upon which BOXLOT was built. Now a fully-realized micro-retail and music lounge concept, BOXLOT opens to the public on Friday, September 20th.
The grand opening serves as the culmination of work by multiple parties to further energize the neighborhood, and Chris Porter has been eager to see all of their efforts come together. He’s the owner of Creative Punch, the branding and design agency that partnered with the Memphis Medical District Collaborative to bring BOXLOT to life.
Porter, who is originally from Flowood, MS and moved to Memphis in 2008 to play soccer at the University of Memphis, says that what he loves the most about the city is the different communities that it has to offer and how each neighborhood is unique. He jumped at his chance to add to the vitality of one of those distinct neighborhoods.
“We wanted to make something really unique that was not done before,” said Porter.
The idea of the micro-retail initiative came from the Memphis Medical District Collaborative who saw the potential to take what Shab Chic Marketplace started to greater heights. Porter teamed up with Vonesha Mitchell and Zaria Jones from MMDC to help them rebrand and resurface it. The MMDC already had a connection with IKEA for furniture, and Porter helped to make the spaces as welcoming as possible through color choices, branding, signage and other embellishments.
“I went and developed a brand identity and then we pieced it together from there. I pulled in PKM Architects to help with bringing the space to another level. Myself and PKM worked together to pull in a lot of visual elements and that includes the string lights, awning, and the decking,” said Porter.
Part of what makes BOXLOT unique is its focus on specialty retail tenants. There’s Majik & Co., which will sell vintage sneakers and apparel. The other shop, KickSpins, is owned by Memphis music champion, Tonya Dyson, and will feature custom sneakers, vinyl records, CDs, music-related books, DVDs & magazines, and related accessories.
Through BOXLOT, the retailers get to experiment with niche concepts and test their viability for permanent storefronts in the neighborhood once their lease term is up.
“I was really thrilled for the opportunity to work with them and bring this to life,” said Porter. “We wanted people that were really invested in the community [with] cool unique shop ideas and to also lean into the Memphis culture.”
This is not just an unboxing of BOXLOT. This is the unboxing of even more opportunities for people to connect, learn, and engage with a newly activated and energized pocket of town, and the grand opening will showcase the best of all of BOXLOT’s capabilities
“It’s going to be pretty exciting,” said Porter. “We’ve got two live performances—one from Kia Johnson and she’s going to have a live band, then also, The Privilege. They are going to perform within the Ikea lounge, so the IKEA lounge [is] not only going to be a showcase for IKEA furniture [but]it’s also meant to act as a musical stage. It’s got the deck, the overhead component to where we have the musicians stand in front and they can perform live music and it’s this cool backdrop of IKEA that’s never been done before. DittyTV will have a TV in there for when there is no musical performance, and people can sit in the lounge and watch TV and see music [shows].”
Additional vendors will be there for the opening festivities. Archd, which specializes in handmade wood and marble home accents as well as t-shirts will be on hand. DittyTV will bring their Vibe and Dime shop from South Main for a pop-up. TapBox and MemPops will be on site along with other food trucks.
Blue Note Bourbon and beer from High Cotton Brewery will be available as well. Up to 400 drinks will be complimentary.
“Our vision is to have a really successful launch and also set up shops for success long-term,” said Porter. “We have some events already on the calendar. We want to have holiday markets, pop-up shops, a national sneaker day event, and micro-events for our retailers allowing them to do Memphis Music Trivia. We want it to be something that people can look at and say wow, we can do something really cool in the neighborhood.”
Experience everything BOXLOT has to offer at the Grand Opening Party today, September 20th from 4 PM – 8 PM.