There are a lot of places to go for gifts that say “Nashville”. You can buy any number of tchotchkes from hotel gift shops or souvenir stands. Or you could head over to the accidental retail empire that Todd Reynolds and Travis Brown are building in Fatherland District in East Nashville and find gifts that don’t just say Nashville, they are Nashville.
I say accidental because they never planned on being retailers. They never really planned on being entrepreneurs either. The duo, one a former commercial lender and the other a former accounts receivable manager, got their entrepreneurial bug after they adopted their first dog Baxter. Not satisfied with the dog treats available in local stores they started making their own using local and organic ingredients. Dog owning friends and family members were soon knocking on their door asking to buy the tasty and healthy treats. Baxter Bites, as they called their new creation, became the hit of local festivals and soon became available online. When their second dog Bailey joined the family, ill fitting collars and harnesses prompted them to start designing and manufacturing their own and they launched Baxter Bailey & Company to sell them wholesale. The combination of quality and style was a big hit with dog owners.
Although the pair had no intention to get into the retail business, a short term lease and encouragement of their local retail partners convinced them to give it a try. Baxter Bailey & Company’s retail location was soon open for business. Todd and Travis quickly found that they loved being in the retail business. Interacting with customers had been a significant driver of the launch of Baxter Bailey & Company and having a retail location gave them all the more opportunity to talk to people who not only bought their products but who shared their love of dogs and their appreciation of well made and well designed accessories. And there were plenty of those in dog-friendly East Nashville. Plenty of customers from around the city as well as word of their quality products, unique style, and friendly and supportive atmosphere traveled. Baxter Bailey & Company’s retail outpost thrived.
But these intrepid entrepreneurs weren’t finished. They had been bitten hard by the entrepreneurial bug and were looking for their next opportunity. An idea began percolating — applying their passion for decor with their commitment to quality local products in a unique shopping environment. Prime space in the growing Fatherland District serendipitously opened up and in only thirty days Abode Mercantile went from concept to grand opening.
Abode Mercantile isn’t a particularly large store. It spans a double storefront in a retail building at the corner of Fatherland and South 10th. But it’s shelves and tables pack a wealth of carefully curated local products. I can’t possibly do their selection justice, but that won’t stop me from trying. Their original concept was about food and entertaining and you can see that today. Their pantry includes Sourdough bread mixes and seasonings from the East Nashville Spice Company; Olive & Sinclair chocolate bars sit next to gourmet brittle from the Brittle Brothers and the requisite boxes of GooGoo clusters; as well as cocktail mixers from Walkers and Eli Mason. Abode Mercantile is one of only a handful of retail locations in Nashville selected by the iconic Loveless Cafe to carry their products including the signature baking mixes and preserves. An array of barware and glassware and serving ware help carry those delights from pantry to guests.
But customers wanted more. They wanted not only to be able to stock their pantries but to decorate their homes. So now you will find a huge variety of unique decor items; most made here in Nashville by some of the city’s talented designers and artisans. Whether you are in need of pillows or picture frames, candles or coasters, or just something different to enhance your living room, bedroom, or kitchen, you will find it at Abode Mercantile.
Customers also wanted bath and body products that reflected the same quality and artisan aesthetic. Of course, you’ll find a complete selection of Thistle Farms products. You will also find Soak Body Company, Todd and Travis’s most recent venture. The Soak line includes personal grooming products for both men and women including handmade soaps, lotions, natural deodorants, bath salts, and more.
So who are these customers? If you expected them to be the people who live and work in East Nashville you would be partly right. But a surprising number of visitors to Nashville find their way to Abode. They come at the recommendation of their hotel concierge, their Uber driver or their Airbnb hosts. Many of the Airbnb guest rooms in Nashville are decorated from the shelves of Abode Mercantile or provide Soak products in their bathrooms. And those guests, in turn, visit the store looking to bring a little bit of what makes Nashville unique home with them. Abode Mercantile’s reputation is also going international. Todd and Travis related the story of the Nashville residents who are moving abroad and who’s house hunting search will be featured on the HGTV program House Hunters International; including a segment filmed at Abode Mercantile.
Those far-flung visitors are partly responsible for Abode Mercantile going online. There has always been an online presence for the store, but with a growing customer base that isn’t a short drive away, more of the many products that they sell need to be available online. You’ll find an excellent and growing selection of their products at www.abodemercantile.com, including featured and seasonal collections.
So now you know where to go for gifts that don’t just say Nashville but that are Nashville. Whether you are looking for something for a friend, a relative, someone who has never experienced Nashville or who aches for that reminder of home, or even for yourself, you should wander over to the Fatherland District in East Nashville and explore Abode Mercantile. Oh, and feel free to bring your dog.
Written By: James Szuch