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Letters from the Founder: Launching the Store

BY Xan Hood Journal 10 Year Anniversary
BY Xan Hood

As a boy, I would take yearly visits with my parents to the small town of Martinsville, Indiana. My grandparents were the owners of an appliance and mower store in the downtown area. It was a part of that nostalgic time of small two-story brick buildings that thrived in small-town America, prior to online and big box stores.

With washers and dryers on display in the front windows and a mower repair shop in the back, they welcomed folks with a friendly greeting. I would visit and look for the glass jars of butterscotch candy. I walked around the store in curiosity as customers came in for a blender or mower repair. What I remember most is that everyone was always a friend. There were no strangers. Their store was a fixture of the community as much as the gas station, library, and church.

It was that experience I had as a child that became part of my vision and dream of opening a store for Buffalo Jackson. There was something about a store that made the brand complete, whole, and real.

After our move to Matthews, NC, the dream of opening a store began to awaken more and more in me. While we had been an online business, there was something about that longing to reconnect the human part of a relationship with our customer that resonated within. I wanted people to experience the ambiance of the brand and rich leather smell.

Since I had first envisioned the brand, there was always a store. The products were set in the context of a place: one-part museum of the past, one-part heritage of the west. The experience of meandering through a store knowing you were welcomed into a world of well-made leather goods would give you a little different perspective and wonder.

Once my wife and I moved to Matthews in 2013, I began to search for a brick-and-mortar home for Buffalo Jackson. Within about a year, we found a location right in the heart of this small downtown that resembled my grandparents’ home in Indiana. Buffalo Jackson had found a home!

And so, as we worked out a lease for our store in Matthews we put everything into motion. The space required some work to make the vision a reality. Again, we didn’t have much money. We had to find other ways to raise the funds to build out the store. We found customers were willing to help our cause, so we began to sell special edition neckties and bowties to raise money for the paint and the flooring. Our friends and family across the country rallied together to help us and with the support of our customers, little by little, we began to build.

With weeks of hard labor, my father-in-law, brother-in-law, and myself renovated the entire space; repainting the walls, adding shelves built from local wood found in an old barn and added metal rods for apparel. We outfitted the space with my growing collection of antiques that would drop you in the middle of Colorado the second you walked through the door.

After adding the full-size buffalo — a story for another day, which includes the removal of a door — the store was finished. With the support of our customers, friends, and family, the Buffalo Jackson flagship store opened for business.

That was seven years ago. We think of the store now as an opportunity to know and engage our local community. It is part of who we are and provides the setting and inspiration of what we do — a place for youngsters to experience a buffalo with wonder and amazement and customers shop and acquaint themselves with the elements of the brand, the smell of rich leather and engaging conversation.

If you are ever in the Charlotte area, visit the small railroad town of Matthews just a few miles south. It is my hope Buffalo Jackson becomes a destination and a fixture of the community that my grandparents and customers would be proud of.


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