Idea Hatchery Brings Small Businesses Out of Their Shells
When it comes to witnessing the swell of creative energy in East Nashville, Meg and Bret MacFadyen have a prime view. For the past 11 years, their Art & Invention Gallery has perched at the epicenter of the neighborhood’s resurgence, smack in the middle of Five Points.
This summer, the couple unleashed their signature artistic and inventive style on Five Points Collaborative (An Idea Hatchery), a project designed to foster entrepreneurial growth in the district. Bret, who conceived of and constructed the quirky VW-bus-turned-hot-dog-vendor I Dream of Weenie — which he recently sold — dreamed up a series of eight colorful modular structures to fit in the vacant space between the gallery and Wonders on Woodland.
“Bret wanted to build a little community of retail spaces to incubate small businesses,” says Meg, who curates the eclectic collection of art, crafts, jewelry, glassworks and textiles at Art & Invention and is the brains behind the eight-year-old Tomato Art Fest.
“It all grew out of the idea that while we’ve been watching restaurants and bars thriving here, there didn’t seem to be enough retail.”
The key to the project is a combination of high visibility and low rent, with short-term leases available, Meg says. Entrepreneurs who want to start small and get their footing without committing to expensive long-term rental contracts can dip their toes in and see if their business plans have legs. If businesses outgrow the Hatchery, then it’s time to fly the modular coops, which range between 168 and 320 square feet, and make room for other fledgling enterprises.
Furthermore, the grouping of eight likeminded entrepreneurs lining a central courtyard provides an immediate sense of community. Sole proprietors avoid isolation by talking to kindred enterprising spirits on a daily basis and can take advantage of group marketing projects and planned events. For example, on Dec. 3, the Idea Hatchery and its retail neighbors will host an open house along the lines of an art crawl, with wine and hors d’oeuvres in the stores.
As the holiday shopping season opens, the Five Points Collaborative (An Idea Hatchery) will offer a target-rich destination for gift-gathering among its retail and business residents:
Alegria: Long known for its edgy inventory of East Nashville-boosting bumper stickers and T-shirts, Bil Breyer’s boutique stocks high-end leather goods — including custom belts and guitar straps — jewelry, soaps and candles. alegriagifts.com • 615-227-8566
Bizen: East Nashville resident Jackson Miller’s firm provides business intelligence tools that integrate with the point-of-sale systems of franchises and independent restaurants. bizen.com • 615-852-5296
East Garden: Founded in 2004, East Garden provides fresh flowers, gifts and vintage home items, as well as floral designs for weddings and large events. theeastgarden.net • 615-226-6670
5 Points Digital Imaging: Servicing commercial accounts, the fine art community and end users, the digital print service provider launched a storefront in the Idea Hatchery to showcase print products, such as stretched canvas, high-definition aluminum prints, digital wallpaper, and environmentally friendly exhibit products.
5pdi.com • 615-591-1557
Glen Miller: A partner and general manager of L2M, which operates two Plato’s Closet stores and is opening a third in the near future, Miller also sits on the board of Bizen, helps other small businesses and occasionally teaches business and marketing classes. It remains to be seen how he will use his new space in the Hatchery.
Goodbuy Girls: Tanya Montana Coe and Kimberly Davison specialize in contemporary and vintage pieces for all occasions. Their extensive selection of used cowboy boots has already helped catapult the year-old store into the ranks of local favorites. goodbuygirlsnashville.com • 615-281-9447
Moss: Opened this fall, Melita Osheowitz Snider’s contemporary clothing boutique for women features eclectic styles with a little something for everyone. mossclothes.com • 615-973-3440
This Oktipus Printing Company: Artist and printer Brandon Morgan offers an array of fine stationery, pens and inks, nostalgic ephemera, as well as custom invitations, posters, and stationery made on an antique Vandercook letterpress.
thisoktipusprinting.storenvy.com • 615-713-0241
Photo by Eric England