By Kevin Collison
Volume 1ne is relocating from Westport to the Crossroads Arts District, tapping into the creative spirit of the neighborhood to inform and expand its lifestyle streetwear clothing line.
Founder Justin Ji plans to open his new shop at 1919 Wyandotte next month, and looks forward to contributing to the fledgling retail scene in the nearby area.
“I have an artist background, art is in me,” he said. “We have more creators and makers here in the Crossroads. They weren’t at Westport.”
While there some shops around the corner in the 18th Street Alley, along West 18th and the immediate vicinity, Ji said the area has a way to go before becoming a shopping destination.
“It will take some time for people to have enough courage to get into retail right now,” he said. “Specialty retail can thrive, people who can cut and sew and make something out of an idea.
“If you can’t create and are a retailer just in it for the money, I think that model is out.”
Ironically, Ji and his store manager Darius Hubbard met each other five years ago while working at one of the ultimate corporate retailers, Foot Locker–in the Oak Park Mall to boot.
Ji already had a plan to start his own store and wanted to learn the ropes of retailing by working at Foot Locker. He was pretty cocky about his sales skills until he went up against Hubbard.
“He was the only person i couldn’t beat on sales,” Ji recalled. “I approached him and asked if he’d like to join me.”
The first Volume 1ne opened in 2013 at 427 Westport Rd.
“I was into street culture, skateboarding and sportswear, that was my focus Ji said. “Modern, contemporary, many men’s clothing.”
After five years in Westport, the Ji and Hubbard decided to look for a more compatible environment. That’s when they found the two-story, 6,000 square-foot building on Wyandotte in the Crossroads.
“Now, the attention has shifted to the Crossroads,” Hubbard said.
The retail floor space of the new building is about the same at the Westport shop, Ji plans to lease the upper floors to startups or other entrepreneurial businesses.
“We are looking to do a little more here,” Ji said. “Since we’re in the art district, we want to do more artist collaborations and there’s more pop-up opportunities for retail.”
Their target market is anyone who enjoys their clothing designs.
“We have no demographic,” Ji said. “We sell to anybody, people from the suburbs or city.
“Our inspiration draws from a multitude of styles.”
The hours of the new shop should be similar to the Westport store, which in late August: Tuesdays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays, noon to 6 p.m. Closed Mondays.
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