I had not much time on a brief pre-Christmas trip to Jackson, Mississippi but I did manage to run into Kinkade’s to check on how Keith Kinkade bravely launched a new retail venture two years ago as the economy was tanking. And in 1,700 square feet on the second floor of an unpretentious but charming little shopping center, Kinkade (formerly of The Rogue) has managed to create a beautiful, rustic, warm and friendly environment (rough cut cypress walls, imported brick fireplace) for his mix of traditional and updated men’s clothing and sportswear. It’s the kind of place where people want to come in and hang out and on this particular pre-Christmas Saturday, that’s just what they were doing!
“It helps that we’re in a great upscale neighborhood at the junction of two highways (51 and 55) where 25,000 cars pass each day,” he explains. But it’s obviously more than that: not only does Kinkade have a strong customer following but he’s created numerous events and promotions (a book signing that day, Ladies Day on December 9th where a $25 gift card went toward the purchase of a guy’s gift) and a general atmosphere that’s upscale but approachable. Coppley is the number one suit vendor and they’ve sold more than 200 custom suits to date. Pant business ($195-
and-under) is strong with Ballin a key resource generating more than 1000 units this year. Denim assortments feature WORN (a huge seller at $125 retail), Agave and AG. Other hot brands include Tommy Bahama, Bobby Jones (sportshirts at $145 and knit vests at $98-$115 were blowing out), and Woolrich (fleece pullovers at $35 and $45 retail were hot holiday gifts.) Another strong seller: Trafalgar’s monogram rhodium belt buckles ($75) sold with leather straps ranging from $75 to $375 for the Louisiana ‘gator.
“It’s almost an old-fashioned approach to the business,” Kinkade explains. “Yes we have a website and e-mail blasts and digital slide shows of key items on flatscreens in the store. But it’s more about comfortable seating and hand-wrapped gifts and personal notes and wonderful sales associates like Ryan Jones and David Robinson. I’ve been very lucky.”
In addition to holiday shopping at Kinkades (my husband loved the Bobby Jones vest and shirt), three other things I enjoyed in Jackson: their wonderful art museum, going to Sunday morning services at the Wells United Methodist Church with menswear veteran Billy Neville and eating at Babalu, Bill Latham’s very cool new restaurant and tapas bar on Duling Avenue. (Check out the I Love Lucy reruns on their huge flatscreen and whatever you do: don’t miss the short ribs!)
Jackson Mississippi: a city with soul…