'Heart' of St. Elmo adds men's store, more tenants

'Heart' of St. Elmo adds men's store, more tenants

July 11th, 2018 by Allison Shirk Collins in Business Around the Region

The ribbon cutting for the new Refinery store at 3800 St. Elmo Ave. on Wednesday morning. From left to right: Sen. Bo Watson; Plus Coffee Owner Matthew Park; City councilmember Erskine Oglesby Jr.; Juli-Ann Morgan from SouthEast Bank; Robin Parker from SouthEast Bank; Keith Wooten, Refinery owner; Carl Greene, Refinery owner; and Brian Davis, lead pastor at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in the North Shore.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Gallery: 'Heart' of St. Elmo adds men's store, more tenants

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Friday, July 13: Happy hour and local DJ from 3 to 6 p.m. and SLATE Denim & Co. pop-up shop from 3 to 8 p.m.

Saturday, July 14: Whiskey from the barrel tasting, Hoff and Pepper hot sauce tasting, food trucks and block party from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Refinery men's store opened in St. Elmo this week, joining other tenants in the "heart" of the historic neighborhood as the area's popularity continues to grow among locals and tourists.

Refinery owners and partners Carl Greene and Keith Wooten moved from a 500-square-foot space in a train car at the Chattanooga Choo Choo to a 1,400-square-foot-store at 3800 St. Elmo Ave., adding another new business to the converted warehouse space that has added a number of local businesses a few years ago. Some of the building's new tenants include Plus Coffee, The Tap House, Peace. Strength. Yoga, Jonesy Wood Designs, and just last week, Kickstand Bicycles moved in.

Tennessee Bouldering Authority has been in the warehouse for the past 18 years.

Chattanooga City Council Member Erskine Oglesby Jr., who lives in St. Elmo and represents the district, attended Refinery's ribbon cutting Wednesday morning, which kicked off a week of grand reopening events for the store. Oglesby said he appreciates how the building's owners and local businesses have invested in it to help keep it's historic nature. The building's owners could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

"It's the heart and pulse of downtown St. Elmo," Oglesby said. "Businesses like this reflect what we are all about in St. Elmo. It contributes to the quality of life in the area and just increases the number of reasons why someone would want to come to here and spend a Saturday."

Refinery started in 2015 as a small, pop-up shop at Merchants on Main antiques mall in the Southside before moving to the Choo Choo in 2016. When deciding on the next place to expand, Wooten said they looked in the North Shore and Southside but landed on the St. Elmo location because of the proximity to both tourists at the Incline Railway and the historic neighborhood's residents.

Greene said they like being in a building with several other local businesses.

"St. Elmo has always been kind of like the next thing," Greene. "It's hip and eclectic, and I think it's growing in popularity."

Although they are leaving the Choo Choo behind, they are bringing a piece of it with them. They took a bar counter from the Victorian lounge at the historic hotel and refurbished it to make a cashier's counter at the new Refinery store.

The shop caters solely to men with a curated collection of exclusive apparel lines, apothecary and gifts. Wooten said the apparel lines and gifts are all inspired by their travels in and out of the country. Wooten is the primary owner who watches over the shop, and Greene is a full-time financial advisor.

"I always liked the idea of a shop that catered just to men," Wooten said. "Most stores you go to cater to both men and women, and there's not a lot in Chattanooga – with us there's only about four."

Some chosen clothing brands include Vince, SLATE Denim & Co. and Nifty Genius, and most men could find something they like in the store within their price range. Items include shave cream and "beard balm" for under $10 or on the higher-priced end customers can purchase a Vince, long-sleeved shirt for $245 or swim trunks for about $100. The store also carries bow ties, wallets, bags, socks, hats, notebooks and more with several items on sale.

Although the store features items customers can't find anywhere else in Chattanooga, Wooten and Greene said they also carry several Chattanooga brands, like Hoff and Pepper hot sauce and SMITH Underwear Co.

"We like to support local businesses, too," Wooten said.

Refinery is hosting events Friday, July 13, and Saturday, July 14, to celebrate their grand reopening from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The normal business hours for the store will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Plus Coffee owner Matthew Park also attended the ribbon cutting Wednesday. Plus Coffee's St. Elmo location is expanding to the space next door, making it over 1,100 square feet now. Park said they are adding more common seating areas and a small kitchen in the space as well as storage.

Plus Coffee was the first, commercial tenant in the building, he said. This Saturday, Plus Coffee is celebrating their second anniversary with a block party.

"It was a slow start but now it's picking up," Park said. "We are just happy to be here."

Contact staff writer Allison Shirk at ashirk@timesfreepress.com, @Allison_Shirk or 423-757-6651.