The Closing Bell: 2016 Retail Edition

Welcome to The Closing Bell. Given the holiday shopping season is officially upon us — like it or not — we’re providing you with a roundup of local retail stories from the past year. When the weekend shopping frenzy has subsided, check out our Monday Business Briefing for the usual biz scoops and big news.

By Caitlin Bowling, Melissa Chipman and Sara Havens


New Butchertown shop opened just in time for the holiday shopping season

Louabull sells uniquely Louisville T-shirts, gifts and ornaments | Courtesy of Louabull

Louabull sells uniquely Louisville T-shirts, gifts and ornaments. | Courtesy of Louabull

The new store called Louabull — a play on the city’s name — opened its doors this month, fortuitous for a shop that stocks its shelves with small gifts such as Dope on a Rope hemp soap and a specially commissioned “scent of Butchertown” candle. Prices at Louabull range from $5 to $250.

The shop took over the space vacated by FoodCraft in the Butcherblock development.

5-0-Lou keeps it local on Frankfort Avenue

The new year brought a new hyper local gift shop and boutique to Frankfort Avenue, filling the gap the WHY Louisville stores left in town. 5-0-Lou‘s tagline is “gift local,” and that’s exactly what its 1,600 square feet of space offers up. From locally pressed T-shirts to Red Hot Roasters coffee, it’s a one-stop-shop for anyone striving to spend their money locally this year.

“We tried really hard to offer things we haven’t seen yet in the city,” co-owner Laura Bailey told Insider in February. “Everything we have is either 100 percent regionally or locally handmade.”

5-0-Lou is at 2235 Frankfort Ave., next to The Hub.

Total Wine & More debuts first superstore in Kentucky 

We've got spirits, yes we do. | Courtesy of Total Wine & More

We’ve got spirits, yes we do. | Courtesy of Total Wine & More

The city was buzzed, so to speak. A 25,000-square-foot superstore that promised low, low prices on Louisvillians’ favorite wines and spirits? In early October, the Paddock Shops welcomed Total Wine & More, a Maryland-based company that has similar stores in 18 states.

The inventory is enormous, with more than 8,000 wines, 3,000 spirits, 2,500 beers and a growler-filling station. We were pleased as pie to find our favorite Friday evening wine, 7 Deadly Zins, for a mere $10 when other stores offer it for $15.99-$18.99.

Although we’re not sure what this will do to locally owned liquor stores that might not be able to compete with such prices, it’s fun to make a trek every once in a while when the wine rack is nearing empty.

Darling State of Mind boutique finds a home in Westport Village

Darling State of Mind Fashion and Gift Boutique opened at Westport Village just in time for Derby, offering up its fair share of hats, fascinators, dresses and jewelry. But there’s much more to the clothing and gift shop than just Derby, and fans of the store’s Facebook page know why.

Knickknacks, scarves, bracelets, hoodies and even their own Louisville-inspired attire — Darling State of Mind continues to keep us trendy and looking good.

Two Louisville residents bring ‘highly curated’ record store to Highlands

The record store Surface Noise hosted its grand opening celebration at 600 Baxter Ave. recently. Following a rush of business, the store has restocked its shelves with hundreds of new records for customers to peruse through.

Owners Bill Barriger and Brett Ralph said they hope the store would become a neighborhood hot spot for music lovers looking for “higher quality” and “heavily curated” records. In addition to records, Surface Noise also sells books.

Jeffersontown store serves gardening and emergency preparedness communities

For the prepper in your life, look no further than Jefferson’s Outpost, which opened this summer at 2001 Production Drive.

The store sells solar-powered cookers, water-purification systems, freeze-dried foods and other necessities for those who don’t want to rely on government services or want to be prepared for various possible disasters. To not limit itself, Jefferson’s Outpost also carries items the average gardener may need, including seeds and soil.

Jefferson’s Outpost occasionally hosts classes, including a coming introduction to blacksmithing.

Imported furniture retailer fills Clifton property

Susan Straub has brought European Splendor back to Louisville.

The furniture and accessories store took over 2232 Frankfort Ave. earlier this year after Straub bought the property from Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen owner Adam Burckle. The store is stocked with Polish pottery, French soaps and other imported goods. Straub also plans to reconstitute European Splendor’s online store in the future as well.

The store sells clothes that fit men and women. | Courtesy of

The store sells clothes that fit men and women.

BLōFISH adds a pop-up store in Oxmoor Mall

Following in the footsteps of other local retailers like Misc. Goods Co., unisex clothing designer BLōFISH has opened a pop-up store at Oxmoor Mall. BLōFISH’s flagship store in NuLu is nearly a year old.

So next time you visit the mall, you can get your local on times two— BLōFISH is right outside of Yang Kee Noodle, the popular local stir fry chain that also expanded this year to a third location in the heart of the Highlands where Baxter Ave. and Bardstown Road meet.

BLōFISH offers hats, T-shirts, tanks, underwear and pants. It also donates to a different charity each month. By the end of the year, it says it will have donated around $20,000 to various charities, both local and national. 

Forage boutique opens in Clifton

Forage will sell plants in artisan pots. | Courtesy of Forage

Forage sells plants in artisan pots. | Courtesy of Forage

Indoor plants, curated goods, workshops and events— that’s what Forage offers, according to its Instagram page. The very photogenic boutique offers loads of hipster essentials like succulents, terrariums and botanical prints.

Jamie Fairman, who owns wedding and floral design business State & Arrow Design Co., is the owner and the store also serves as the HQ for her floral design business.

The boutique’s workshops for the holidays include how to make your own terrariums, ornaments and wreaths. You can search for dates and times for events and order goods on its website.

Jason Cohen, wood artisan, moves to NuLu

Jason Cohen, who crafts home goods out of bourbon barrels, relocated his shop just a few blocks this summer— from E. Main St. to Shelby in NuLu— and gained a much greater visibility for his wares. The new shop is right around the corner from Please and Thank You and next door to RedeApp’s HQ.

His wares were featured in Garden & Gun’s 2011 “Best of the South” issue. He also does custom cabinetry and furniture orders.

Cohen’s designs range from a $15 votive holder to a $2,100 12-light chandelier.

The Highlands finds its Sweet Spot with a candy shop

The Sweet Spot Candy Shoppe | Courtesy of David Carney

The Sweet Spot Candy Shoppe | Courtesy of David Carney

Because the market for coffee, pizza and ice cream has been cornered in the Highlands, why not open a candy store? Seems like a smart idea, with all the foot traffic that area of Bardstown Road attracts year-round.

Highlands residents David Carney and Brian Wigginton thought so, and they opened The Sweet Spot Candy Shoppe in the building that formerly housed WHY Louisville in mid-May to much fanfare. The bright green exterior is attractive and fun, welcoming guests of all ages into a store with more than 120 varieties of candy.

“I wanted it to be the neighborhood candy store where kids can grow up,” Carney told Insider in May. “Growing up going to the candy store with my grandfather, it was a huge deal. No one’s in a bad mood buying candy.”

Children’s T-shirt store settles into NuLu

Taking a (baby) step toward filling the void that WHY Louisville left behind, OSO Goods started selling quirky, largely locally themed, T-shirts for children in NuLu this spring. The store is in the front of Magnolia Photo Booth. It was started by Magnolia Photo Booth co-owner Peter Tower and his wife, Emily Tower, who is a teacher.

There are a few things for the grownups in stock, but this place is mainly for the children. Get your wee one their “K is for Kentucky” tee for the holidays.


Consignment store owner closed business to focus on family

The consignment store closed on Nov. 15. | Courtesy of Urban Attic

The consignment store closed on Nov. 15. | Courtesy of Urban Attic

This closure hurt a bit, but Urban Attic owner and new mother Amy Schuler Cundiff said she needed to do what was best for her family and for her employees.

Cundiff closed the upscale consignment store earlier this month after seven years in business. While Insider Louisville hasn’t heard about anything talking over the storefront, it is only a matter of time before the prime Bardstown Road real estate is snatched up.

Three Kmart stores closed in Louisville

Amid the decline of some department store companies nationwide, it came as little surprise when Sears Holdings announced plans to shut 68 Kmart stores and 10 Sears stores in the United States. No Sears locations in Louisville closed, but three Kmarts in Louisville and one in Southern Indiana made the cut list, leaving on the Kmart on Outer Loop open.

Sears Holdings, Kohl’s, Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Dillard’s have closed 700 stores since 2013, which made up about 20 percent those chains’ total stores, Fortune reported.

‘Lower profit margins’ forced local beauty shop to shut down

National retail chains aren’t the only ones hurting, however.

Independently owned beauty shop and store Beauty First announced this past spring that is would close both of its locations before June.  “A variety of factors led to the closures, including increased competition from online retailers, rent increases and lower profit margins,” according to an announcement.

Beauty First operated in Louisville for more than 20 years.

Alchemy’s NuLu location doesn’t turn to gold

alchemyBack in March, the E. Market St. interminable construction project claimed Alchemy as a victim. Online reviews said that the quirky boutique was a must-visit for all fans of Harry Potter, steam punk and goth. Certainly, Louisville doesn’t have any other store that could be considered a “Magical Olde World Emporium.” And we’re lesser for that.

In February IL reported: “While it’s indisputable that bridge construction has temporarily harmed at least some businesses along the East Market/Main Street area, the location of Alchemy was always a bit of a head-scratcher. It existed as a little retail island at 415 E. Market. A quick poll of the IL editorial team reveals we all ‘always meant to check it out’ but never did.”

Hopefully another store will fill our gap in “Magical Olde World Emporiums” in 2017. 

Mind the Gap: Oxmoor Mall store closing amid nationwide cuts

Nationwide, The Gap expects to close around 65 stores this fiscal year, according to The Wall Street Journal, and the Oxmoor Mall Gap is one of the casualties. This leaves the only area Gap store at the Paddock Shoppes, along with a Gap outlet in Simpsonville.

If you’re of a certain age, it’s hard to imagine a Time Before The Gap. The Gap was founded in San Francisco in 1969. If you were a child of the ’90s, Gap clothing was either a staple of your wardrobe, or you wished it was.

It is the umbrella company to additional brands: Banana Republic, Old Navy, Intermix and Athleta. No word on area Banana Republics or Old Navys closing.

Good news/bad news for Good Garbage

Bad news first: The storefront for the unique Good Garbage closed on Frankfort Ave. The store sold up-cycled craft supplies that were gently used or surplus that would otherwise be thrown out, largely to crafters and educators. There was some indication that owner Lynn Quire and her board were going to find a new route for GG. When asked about this and here’s what she said via email:

“Nothing is in the works currently. I’ve decided to take the rest of the year off GG, while working my new for-profit, Reuse & Baby Lou. Well, not completely off. We are hosting Story Time Tuesday and a Winter Break Camp, plus I still do talks with scouts, students and adults. After the first of the year, I will be trying to figure out what direction GG will go.”

The good news is Reuse & Baby Lou is an online store that offers really cute housewares and baby goods made from environmentally sustainable materials. You can get everything from diaper covers to reusable coffee filters on the site.

Odds and Ends

Fleet Feet Sports fled to new Louisville location

Following pressure to pay a higher rental rate, athletic store Fleet Feet Sports decided to take its talents to a different neighborhood. Everything remains the same, except the store now operates at 3900 Shelbyville Road in Saint Matthews Station.

Fleet Feet Sports, which locally is run by Andy and Natalie Fenton, has one of more than 150 locations in the United States.

The New Blak sees changes, has a hefty Blak Friday discount

This year Amanda Dare and her co-founders of The New Blak line of clothing parted ways, and she closed the brick and mortar in Clifton in favor of a mobile boutique a.k.a. “Betty the Bust.” The New Blak started as a “little black dress” company, but under Dare it has grown to be a general lifestyle brand.

Turns out those were just the beginning of the changes to the company. Dare told IL that she has decided to switch the material for the LBDs from an organic cotton to a bamboo product, which does require tweaking the dresses’ designs. The company also has a permanent display at 5-0-Lou, 2235 Frankfort Ave.

Eyedia gets new owners and a new home

Shortly after the first of the year, Eyedia, Design It Again vacated its popular storefront on Mellwood Avenue, selling it to Mint Julep Tours, and announced new ownership and a new home base. Founders Martha Neal Cooke and Diane Stege decided to turn it over to employees Misha Meinhold and Connie Roitman, and they opened an even bigger furniture consignment shop at 926 Baxter Ave. this spring.

Business appears to be booming, as the new owners tease a few Black Friday sales on their Facebook page and boast over 4,000 fans.

The Baxter Avenue space is larger than the Mellwood location, which allows them to showcase more goods.

Crescent Hill Trading Co. welcomes new owners as well

Kathy Schmitt | Photo by Sara Havens

Kathy Schmitt | Photo by Sara Havens

The venerable Crescent Hill antique store that has sat near the corner of Bayly and Frankfort avenues for more than 14 years has been sold, but thankfully, its new owners plan to keep it just the way it is. Neighborhood residents Mark Gaff and Jack Tindal recently purchased Crescent Hill Trading Co. from Kathy Schmitt, who has owned it for about six years.

“Both buyer and seller recognize that our customers and the community are important in this deal,” wrote Schmitt in a Facebook post. “Our customer base is savvy and understand that nothing can replace a locally owned and operated business.”

A hello and goodbye party is planned for Friday, Nov. 25, beginning at 6 p.m.