At Ponce City Market on a Saturday evening, it’s hard to miss the tiny store that’s designed as a living room. Warm hues of brown abound. Art, magazines, and Ghia — a brand of non-alcoholic drinks — fill the back of the store. Speakers, incense, clothes and other items compose the front. Stacks of vinyl records and a sofa encompass the middle. Erykah Badu’s “Time’s a Wastin’” blares in the background.
There’s a lot going on in the small yet inviting space. And, upon a first glance, it’s tough to decipher what exactly is going on. But the store’s appeal is rooted in its mystique and its soothing atmosphere.
“We wanted it to be kind of homey in a sense … but everything is for sale,” said Kim Alex Hall, co-founder of Console by 2ndbdrm.
Located within Ponce City Market’s Citizen Supply, Console by 2ndbdrm is a new vinyl listening bar that also sells furniture, incense, non-alcoholic spirits and other items. The space had a soft launch on Nov. 25 and 26, but it officially opened on Sat, Dec. 3.
Hall and her best friend/business partner Kei Henderson conceived the idea for the space after forming their online furniture retail company 2ndbdrm last year. The business also offers interior design services. Console was created as an extension of 2ndbdrm.
“I was thinking about a way to sort of evolve the business because you don’t make a bunch of money from furniture,” Henderson said. “You can sit on a chair for months before you’re gonna sell it depending on price points, which a lot of the stuff is authentic, mid-century modern stuff, and it tends to be expensive, so I was like how do I bring in the music piece, which is what I’ve been doing for years? I was like, ‘Oh, I love vinyl.’ I love listening to vinyl records, and then that’s just how it came together. Then, we added a clothing piece to it because Kim has a background in being a buyer and creative direction in retail, so it just all came together.”
Henderson, who’s from Cleveland, Ohio, but raised in the Lawrenceville/Suwanee area, previously served as a manager for 21 Savage. She currently runs Third & Hayden — a record label, management and publishing company. Henderson manages artists like R&B singer and songwriter Asiahn and Atlanta-based lyricist Ben Reilly. Hall is a former creative director and buyer for Wish Atlanta Boutique. The New York City native recently acted on the television series “Boomerang,” which aired on BET. She’s worked for brands like Complex, Adidas, Neiman Marcus and more.
The pair met through a mutual friend in 2006 when they both worked for former Atlanta-based lifestyle and entertainment blog Lavish Life Social Club.
“Because we do know each other, and we know how to work with each other, I also think Kei is very creative, but people see her in this one way — in music, but she’s actually very creative,” said Hall. “For me, it’s like I’ve been in so many different creative things. I’ve acted, I’ve written, I’ve styled, so for me it’s just dope to jump into this thing, and I think it’s dope for her to jump in and see her creativity and I think it’s dope for people to see mine and be able to fuse everything together.”
Hall said she hopes their multi-disciplinary interests make Console by 2ndbdrm feel more like a hub for creativity instead of an actual store.
“Yes, it’s this space, but it’s also we can have a lot of things we want to do in the city through that space,” said Hall, 38. “I think that’s really important because I think for a long time people in Atlanta especially were like oh we don’t have this, oh we don’t have that and it’s like ok let’s do it. (It’s also about) connecting people from other cities to come here to do thing because Atlanta is a bustling city and people should be experiencing it in not just in one way. Not just music. I think Atlanta has a lot to offer.”
During last week’s soft opening, Mifland, an apparel brand based in Atlanta and New York City, partnered with Console to sell their clothing. Mifland founder Tobi Egberongbe said understanding Henderson and Hall’s commitment to building a space that can be a source of creativity in Atlanta is part of what made the collaboration a logical decision for his company.
“It’s good for so many reasons,” Egberongbe said. “You get to test out the project to see how they’re responding to it in person. You get to connect with your already existing audience and a space like this here in Ponce specifically (where) there’s so much traffic, where people are eating and stuff like that, and you get a lot of free-flowing traffic. And that alone, when you’re walking into all of these different areas, it draws people in, especially with the music.”
At the vinyl station, there are loads of records ( some priced as low as $2) that’ll entice both neophytes and those familiar with crate-digging. It’s easy to get lost in looking at the artwork for albums and singles by the likes of Roberta Flack, Gladys Knight, Sister Sledge and more. Most of the records on display are by woman artists, which Henderson said was intentional.
“A lot of the concepts are outside of Atlanta, so that’s a big reason why I wanna do it in Atlanta to kind of expand the palette for the city and give (people) other options things to do. The discovery piece is big for sure,” said Henderson, 38. “Discover visual art. Discover new magazines and books, new music a new way to consume music. Because everything is so digital now, it’s disconnecting a lot of people from really learning about the music and what’s going into it.”
Console by 2ndbdrm will be housed at Ponce City Market for about a year. Henderson and Hall plan to eventually have an actual storefront for the space, possibly including a full bar and a café. But for now, the owners are focused on making comfortable atmosphere that’ll not only foster collaboration among Atlanta’s creative community but be the source of discovering the many art forms that the city provides
“(It’s) not (about) just coming in the store, buy something and get out of it,” Hall said. “It’s about coming in and discovering. Maybe you don’t know that much about design, but you have a certain taste level and you’re just interested. I think we can also learn something from our customers, too. They can also tell us, ‘Yo, y’all ever thought about doing this?’ And we can actually do it, so I think that’s important too. It’s a mutual kind of thing.”
This story comes to Atlanta Intown + Reporter Newspapers through a partnership with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.