Photos Andy Calvert
How did Southern Cove get started?
Jayson: In 2018, I decided to quit my corporate retail job and he (Buddy) quit his IT job. We figured we would to do something together that wasn’t working for somebody else. So we began buying pallets of Amazon returns and would piece the items out and sell on them on Facebook Marketplace under the page Whata Deal. That’s really how it began. What we soon discovered was that these items didn’t display well, and we looked a bit like a flea market at our first location. A year into the business, we decided to rebrand and relocate. We looked to specify our product lines and that was really the beginning of Southern Cove.
What was your inspiration for the new image?
Buddy: Growing up in California, I had a friend whose dad ran a bar called Pirate’s Cove. I always thought it was the coolest place and coolest name. So I really wanted to incorporate it somehow into our name. We sell a lot of merchandise that is Georgia or southern-centric, so it was really fitting to have our brand Southern Cove. Everything, from the details of our Ship Faced Pub here in the store to the lighthouse logo, was carefully thought out and executed to represent our family and the quality of merchandise we now sell at the shop.
How would you describe your approach to product selection?
Jayson: We wanted to have control of where our apparel comes from, what it looks like, how it feels, and the way it is made. This is really what motivated us to launch our own apparel line. We didn’t want to simply flip through a product catalog, we wanted to be selective and have a say in the items that bear our name.
So while we do carry popular brands such as Simply Southern, Vera Bradley, and Duke Cannon, many of our products are made in house or for us specifically. Take our candles for example, we make them here in the shop. We specially designed them with the highest quality soy candle wax with wooden wicks. Why? Because as the wick burns it crackles; it’s a little detail that creates a higher-end product. Aesthetically, they’re really cool to watch burn.
Buddy: We first started with t-shirts, then soon moved to designing a winter line. From there it quickly evolved to what you see now. You will see a lot of our branded merchandise will bear the bar name Ship Faced Pub. We make sure when people put on our apparel they don’t want to take it off. We didn’t want to put anything out there that is mediocre.
In the beginning, we noticed it kind of felt like a ladies store. The women would walk right in and the men would just kind of stop at the front mat. We had to change that. Our store is half and half, we cater to everyone. In fact, we are one of the nation’s top retailers of Duke Cannon, a men’s grooming line. We have candy, toys, and even serve a Marietta-made root beer for the kids at the pub. These are the details that set us apart.
Where does this cheeky personality for the store come from?
Jayson: laughing. It’s absolutely my personality, but the humor definitely comes from both of us. When I look at a product that has something on it that doesn’t belong I am entertained. So, if I see an oven mitt that says “I love my a–hole kids.” That really should not be on an oven mitt. It’s great. That’s really funny, and I can do something with that. When we put in the pub, once again, we wanted to deliver something unique. “Come in and have a beer or glass of wine while you shop.”
At first there were a few community leaders that hesitated in their support, saying they wouldn’t let their teenagers in our shop because we have alcohol on the premises. My response was: grocery stores and restaurants also have alcohol, do your teens ever go to Kroger or out to dinner with the family? They came around. But most of our support and loyalty is generated by our commitment to local sources and businesses.
We don’t order any products that will be shipped over on a boat or container. I personally am not outsourcing outside of the country. My store is here, and I want to keep money here, as local as possible. For example, our Southern Cove leather wallets made with top-grade leather are hand-stitched by a father and son operation right here in Cartersville
What inspires you to give back to the community?
Jayson: It’s the right thing to do, you know? We try to support companies that support others. For example, the manufacturers of the humorous oven mitts and dish towels donate a percentage of their proceeds to various hunger charities, our socks support Doctors Without Borders and the LipScHITZ lip balm company employs people with disabilities. So a lot of the things we choose to sell in our shop are designed to give back. Locally, we are big supporters for Advocates for Children and the Good Neighbor homeless shelter.
When we are blessed, we try to pass it on. It wasn’t too long ago, when Covid hit in March, that no one was out shopping, and our business was going down. We were doing everything we could think of to stay afloat, but needless to say I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. So we decided to design a T-shirt, offer preorders to the public, and give one hundred percent of the proceeds to local businesses who were struggling.
We created the design Georgia Strong, they sold for twenty dollars, and we had hundreds of orders coming in. In the end, we were able to donate thousands of dollars to help keep eight local businesses going. It gave us something to do other than sit around and worry about going broke. Here we were raising thousands of dollars for other businesses and we had sixteen dollars in our bank account.
How is business shaping up in 2021?
Buddy: We have been very fortunate, and I am amazed to think that less than a year ago we were unsure if we were going to make it. I look around and see how far we’ve come, and I know that we have so many people to thank for it. Customer experience is extremely important to us. Jayson or myself will always greet the customers at the door, we want them to know how much we appreciate them.
Jayson: That goes to our employees as well. In fact, I’ve always had the opinion that of the top three important elements of retail: customers, store presentation, and employees; employees are number one. The reason being when you put your employees first, they will in turn put your customers first. You create a culture of treating people well.
Our staff is non-expendable. Their input is important to us, we want to empower them to contribute and make decisions that benefit the customer. We are always striving to deliver something unique, and we have an exciting addition coming to the store this spring that is guaranteed to be a big hit for all our customers young and old alike. Expect to find the unexpected.
39 S Public Square, Cartersville, GA 30120
Fri 10am-9pm | Sat 10am-9pm