The Attic in Overton Square gives micro-retailers a brick-and-mortar trial run

The Attic, a women’s boutique in Overton Square, will close at the end of 2017 on an innovative note.

Owner Alexandra Scharff has dedicated the shop’s final month to boosting brand identity and sales for microenterprises that haven’t yet had access to physical space.

The Attic, which sells makeup, women's clothing and gifts, will not renew its lease in the 1,200 square-foot space at the corner of Cooper Street and Madison Avenue. Scharff will instead focus her energy on her other businesses — Adel Amor Cosmetics, Ellen Anchor Clothing Brand, and The Ivory Closet — a retail clothing store targeting young professional women and stylish mothers, with locations in Overton Square and Germantown.

Scharff, a 31-year-old native Memphian, also runs City Chic Living, a fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog offering fashion and makeup tips and ideas focused on décor, healthy living and motherhood.

Through the end of December at The Attic, seven small business vendors are selling everything from clothing and accessories to handmade housewares and gifts and displaying materials to promote their unique local brands.

Each entrepreneur pays $500 per month to display their goods in a section of The Attic, which differs from the consignment store model in which the co-signer receives a portion of the vendor’s profits. The Attic will return 100 percent of the proceeds from each vendor's sales at the end of the month.

“I really wanted to give other local retailers and small businesses a chance to be in a high-traffic area like Overton Square around the holidays,” said Sharff, who was the first retail shop proprietor to sign on after Loeb’s Overton Square renovation.

Colorful Mexican-inspired clothing, ceramics, clutches and other items from Mucho, one of the vendors whose items are available through the month of December at The Attic in Overton Square.

Current vendors at The Attic include Black Tape Designer Fashion, Branigan Brooke, Custom Memphis Graphics, Denim and Pearls Apparel, and Found and Fitted Gifts, which is a gift recommendation service that acts as a personal shopper, sending the giver a Q and A about themselves and the recipient.

Found and Fitted Gifts is serving as a sponsor for The Attic’s holiday concept store.

"Growing up, my family owned a small business, a gift shop, of course,  and I'm an avid supporter of shopping small,” said Found and Fitted owner Penelope Fisher. “I thought this was a great opportunity to spread the word about Found and Fitted Gifts and also add more gift ideas from local makers, artists and entrepreneurs to my recommendations going forward.”

Another vendor, Angelique Sloan, is owner of Mucho, an online retailer that blends contemporary fashions and trends with traditional Mexican and Southwest-style clothing, accessories and home decor.

The native Texan and graduate of Memphis College of Art was heavily influenced by her Mexican-American family’s traditions and culture as well as the Mexican markets she often visited growing up in the Lone Star State.

“I grew up going to markets in San Antonio and other places in Texas and I’ve always loved it – the beautiful colors. This is something I really like to do,” said Sloan, who, until now, has sold her goods only online and at festivals and popup shops.

She said The Attic’s holiday store is her first experience operating inside a brick-and-mortar retail space.

“Because of the location, I was intrigued right away,” Sloan said. “Overton Square is a really happening place. So, right away when I heard about it, I was interested."

Sloan said she hopes to open a physical location for Mucho by the summer of 2018 but is “still very early in the planning stages, so this is kind of a way for me to test it out.”

Scharff said that although The Attic is closing after the holidays, she might consider replicating the retail model in some form in another space, depending on the outcome of the temporary concept shop

“We’re going to see how it goes,” she said. “If it goes well, we might do something similar in another space – possibly at The Ivory Closet."

Read more articles by Aisling Maki.

Aisling Maki is a writer and editor with awards from The Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists and Public Relations Society of America. Her work has appeared in publications in more than 20 countries and she has written locally for more than a dozen publications, including The Commercial Appeal, Memphis Flyer and Memphis Parent Magazine. She previously worked as a digital producer and weekend reporter for Action News 5, Memphis correspondent for the Agence France-Presse (AFP) and staff reporter for Memphis Daily News.