story and photos by Robin Beaudoin Ownby (she/her)
Partners both in business and in life, Shane Waldroup and Scott Barnes found each other and followed their passions to create a uniquely Memphis shopping and decorating experience in Cotton Row Uniques.
“We’ve been together since 2014, we met through mutual friends. We both had houses and had to combine them into one, and we had a lot of duplication in furniture pieces, so we opened a booth at La Maison. That’s kind of how we got into this business. We both had corporate jobs and went from one booth to five over two years before we left.” Waldroup was working for a pharmaceutical company, and friends consistently complimented his decorating style.
“We opened the store on Poplar and Perkins (we had a record December and January) in September of 2018. We’ve been able to use the store as a platform to help some nonprofits. We have served on the board of Friends for Life and have helped Special Olympics. We do special wine and cheese events and “night of shopping” events. We also helped Susan G. Komen. When you shop local, 33% on average, stays in the community.” The stores, which boast a timeless French farmhouse feel, carries a variety of lines as well as one-of-a-kind antiques. Gifts are available ranging from men’s and women’s beauty care to handbags, jewelry, and local specialties.
Form following pandemic function, this spring’s décor brings the inside outdoors, and vice versa, incorporating pieces like storage trunks to hold blankets and pillows, plants and candles that encapsulate organic flow. Socially distant wine on the patio can be as beautiful as indoors with some careful arranging. “On an indoor-outdoor table you love, a fresh potted plant, some fun books that you like, and citronella candles come in an array of vessels,” suggests Waldroup. The duo has created their own luxury line of multi-wick candles and scent in glass jars and large wooden dough bowls. “Everyone’s been sitting at home, and candle sales have gone up by 500%,” says Waldroup.
When making a purchase, Waldroup suggests making sure the piece serves a dual purpose. “People often buy disposable pieces, but I think if you have some good anchor pieces (see photo) such as this coffee table, which is indoor/ outdoor, but it also can be purposed for storing toys or blankets.” Self-serve and buffet-style dining are easy and self-serve- place plates, napkins, and flatware on a long buffet or etagere on a patio. What is new or popular is not necessarily for every person. Pantone’s colors of the year for 2021 are gray and yellow, but Waldroup insists on using colors that make the shopper happy. “If you have a lot of blues, use the blues and rearrange things you already have and love.” You know your style best.
Cotton Row’s slogan is “Unique gifts for you and your home.” Cotton Row Uniques, at 4615 Poplar Avenue Suite 3, is open Tuesday through Sunday, closed Mondays. Cotton Row Weekends, at 174 Collins Street, is open every other/select weekends or by appointment.
Connect at 901-590-3647 or www.cottonrowuniques.com.