If Winslet & Rhys is like shopping an art museum, Open Shop Woodlawn is retail as modern art installation. From the irony of its exterior design to the studied androgyny of its wares, there’s something incredibly cerebral about the Open Shop shopping experience.
Owner Armand Margjeka also owns personal care/coffee supply offshoot Public Office and co-owns Woodlawn Cycle Cafe, yet he’s opted against an obvious common brand. Where the cafe’s interior is a window-lined white, Open Shop’s is deliberately dark and devoid of natural light.
But instead of a goth-inspired den of depression, the darkness is an interesting shift in focus. Like shopping an artist’s closet rather than a standard boutique. It also adds an air of gritty masculinity to the atmosphere.
Items range from minimalist backpacks to art books, collarless blazers to chunky wool sweaters. It’s technically menswear, but the simple lines and classic motifs of the button downs and sweaters could just as easily attract female customers. In fact, that was the conversation we overheard at the cash register–that female customers end up with some of the store’s thick wool sweaters.
And it’d be hard not to envy the wonderfully sculptural approach to clothing display. There’s no making your way through strategically scattered clothing racks. Instead, large oriental rugs and a sofa in the perfect shade of chartreuse occupy the shop’s center. The hanging racks and shelving along the walls are so stripped down you can’t help but focus on an individual item’s artistry.
If anything’s emblematic of Woodlawn’s hip business energy, it might be Open Shop. Because this burgeoning district is about a shift in focus. About a viscerally different, yet wonderfully charming, idea of how development can look. In a way, in might be the most personally artistic neighborhood in the city, because it’s so full of individually unique visions.
This is part II of our weekend in Woodlawn series. Check out Monday’s post on Woodlawn Cycle Cafe brunch, and check back Saturday for our final post on Public Office.