The Edge District

BOXLOT showing early success, gearing up for holiday season

BOXLOT opened September 20 as the eye-catching latest addition to The Edge District.

Located at 607 Monroe Avenue, BOXLOT is home a micro-retail shops and a music lounge housed in repurposed shipping containers. It features both indoor and outdoor spaces.

Its colorful exterior features a mural with a larger mural located on Riverdeep Church in their shared parking area. That mural has a postcard-style design and the words 'With Love from Memphis, TN.' It's a popular spot for photo ops.

"People are going to the space, they're taking pictures there. It's enticing them to stop and ask question," said Chris Porter, owner of Memphis-based Creative Punch which drove BOXLOT's design, branding, marketing and launch event. 

"Whether it's the mural or BOXLOT's facade, both projects are tied together in a unique way."

Porter noted he frequently sees large groups move between the retail and art components. He's encouraged to see crossover and activation of a larger area beyond just BOXLOT. 

BOXLOT's partners said that in addition to increased foot traffic, the space is showing other early signs of success.

BOXLOT is managed by the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, which has spearheaded much of The Edge's growth in recent years.

Porter said BOXLOT has seen a significant increase in social media traffic, and MMDC said attendance has been strong and growing at its unique events. At the September launch, they held an IKEA furniture assembly competition. On October 9, they hosted a National Sneaker Day event with 75 to 100 attendees. 

Next up is the BOXLOT Holiday Market November 22 and 23. The free event will include BOXLOT's retailers, local vendors, food trucks, live music and a tree lighting. 

Porter said BOXLOT's retailers and neighboring businesses have also provided feedback and are pleased with the progression.

"Success is the small business owners having a lot of praise for the space and neighborhood partners being really excited about how it looks and how it's progressing," he said.

BOXLOT is technically a temporary activation, but MMDC said they have no specified ending. Instead, they hope the success of BOXLOT will attract a developer for permanent investment.
 

GOING MICRO 

BOXLOT is based on a concept called micro-retailing. Retailers utilize smaller physical locations and shared space to serve customer needs while reducing overhead for the business. It's especially well-suited to startups and local businesses producing on a small scale.

Auston Freeman, Owner of Majik & Co., shows off some pieces from his collection of vintage concert t-shirts and sports gear. As a BOXLOT tenant, he hopes the Edge District will become a destination for all Memphians. (Chris Jones) The space current includes two local retailers, one international retailer and space for pop-up shops, live music and other events.

Majik & Co. offers vintage sneakers, concert t-shirts and sports memorabilia from the 1980s and early 90s. KickSpins is a pair of shops focusing on vintage vinyl records and classic sneakers. Retail giant IKEA provides home furnishings showcased in the IKEA Lounge.

The lounge also serves as a venue for live music performances that are broadcast by Memphis-based DittyTV.

For Majik & Company and Kickspins, BOXLOT provides space to introduce themselves to the public and refine their business models with a significantly lower risk than striking out entirely on their own. Meanwhile, IKEA can supplement its Cordova location and online shop with a store specifically geared to residents of Midtown, Downtown and the Medical District.


The Edge NOT EDGY

BOXLOT also hopes to both embody and promote Memphis and The Edge alongside retailers.

“BOXLOT has its own brand personality and ambiance that is fun, expressive and heavily influenced by Memphis culture,” says Porter. 

Porter brought in Memphis-based PKM Architects and Dwayne Jones Construction to help design a space that would be a destination point with a diversity of offerings. They also wanted a space that would be easy for groups to use for events with an emphasis on musical events.

He and his team made a concerted effort to ensure BOXLOT reflected The Edge, one of several distinct neighborhoods in the Medical District. They worked with Medical District artists including Khara Woods, Nick Pena and Anthony Lee.

“What makes this project so unique is that it has accomplished what several other shipping container projects have accomplished [but] in a new way that is Memphis-influenced rather than just trendy," said Porter.

The partners also think The Edge has just as much potential as BOXLOT itself. It's seen quite a bit of development in recent years in the area around BOXLOT, but there's still plenty of space for new and innovative developments. 

“The Edge District, like lots of Memphis, is a blank canvas.” says Austin Freeman, owner of Majik & Co. “There really isn’t anyone doing this sort of thing here.”

Near BOXLOT, the Orion Federal Credit Union finished renovations on the iconic Wonder Bread Factory and moved in. High Cotton's brewery and Edge Alley restaurant have become neighborhood favorites. The Marshall Arts gallery and Wonder / Cowork / Create moved in.

But there is still a lot of untapped potential and BOXLOT aims to capitalize on it.

“The Edge is very much an emerging district,” said Vonesha Mitchell, MMDC's community and economic development program manager.

She said the success of this project will be measured primarily by increases in traffic, vendor sales and business growth. They'd also like to see a permanent development attracted by BOXLOT's success.

Read more articles by Chris Jones.

Chris Jones is an attorney, community and non-profit strategist, and freelance writer.  Originally from Starkville, Mississippi, Chris has lived in Memphis for over 25 years.  In his spare time, he loves traveling, learning about history and society, and playing the guitar.
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