A community, an anchor institution, and a developer partner to provide launchpads for small retail businesses
Since we began working in the neighborhood of Remington in 2007, we’ve seen time and again how it is an incubator for homegrown ideas and businesses, and also how it has become a destination for artists, entrepreneurs, and makers looking to get their start. That’s why in 2019, we partnered with a number of local organizations and community members to launch the Remington Storefront Challenge, a city-wide competition focused on providing a launchpad for the city’s most creative and entrepreneurial retail ideas through providing rent-free and fully outfitted spaces to the two winning applicants.
In partnership with the Greater Remington Improvement Association (GRIA) and Johns Hopkins University, we identified two potential retail spaces in the neighborhood (one in our Remington Row project) that would be prime spots for burgeoning businesses. We assembled a community review and selection panel made up of local small business owners, community stakeholders, and Remington residents who reviewed the over 100 applications we received. After narrowing it down to 10 finalists, the panel selected two winning groups, the codex club and the Cahoots Brothers. These two amazing businesses have since become a part of the fabric of Remington while growing their concepts in spaces outfitted for them by the Challenge.
The codex club opened in September of 2019 in their space in the Remington Row project; owned by Andrea McKinnon (Chen), codex club sells locally made products and designs, specializing in custom digital and printed products. After more than a year of operation, Andrea will be taking her business back online after a successful stint in the retail space. In addition, she is a member of Innovation Works Baltimore’s Online Accelerator program.
The Cahoots Brothers were the second winners and opened in October 2020 at 300 W. 29th St. on one of the busiest corners in Remington. The Cahoots Brothers consists of five local makers and artists: Greg Morton, businessman, art collector and owner of The Historic Frederick Douglass House; Warner Blak, the shop’s general manager; Arvay Adams, an embroiderer and screen printer; Alex Bell, a ceramicist; and Kyle Johnson, owner of Bluestone Goldsmithing. Their 1,200-square-foot space is custom built so each of them has workshop space centered around shared retail and gathering space.
The spirit of the Remington Storefront Challenge, one of collaboration, creativity, and entrepreneurship, lives on, and we can’t wait to see what happens next.
I can’t say enough good things about the Remington Storefront Challenge experience and opportunity.
Ceramicist and photographer, Cahoots Brothers team member
The Cahoots Brothers team is a collaborative, multidisciplinary group of artists, makers, and doers. When they opened their doors at their new space on 29th Street in Remington, it was the culmination of years of idea-sharing and visioning. Now, with their studio and shop space up and running, all of us living and working in Remington get to enjoy and participate in the fruits of their collaboration.
Tell us more about how you heard of the Remington Storefront Challenge. How did you all decide to apply as the Cahoots Brothers?
Well, once I heard about it [the Remington Storefront Challenge], I started telling all my artist friends about it. We all have mutual friends among us and have worked in proximity on different projects. Kyle [Johnson, another Cahoots Brothers member] had the idea of coming together to make something, and a bunch of us started building on that idea. What we came up with was a space that was an interactive art gallery and studio space.
And so what was that process like to have all five members of the group work together to form your vision and plan for the storefront space?
We are five artists, so it’s amazing to have that group of energy all pointing in the same direction; it can be a challenge meshing all the processes and energies, but we’ve been able to navigate that process really well together and end up with an idea and space that serves us all.
Now that the space is complete, how has it been for you all to work and sell your products from it?
As much as we wanted it to be a retail space, and studio, and gallery - we wanted it to be a community space where people could gather. So, it’s engineered for community, for people to come and be comfortable. With the COVID-19 pandemic, that vision creates a different set of challenges, but we’re creating and making it work.
Any final thoughts or takeaways you want to share from your Remington Storefront Challenge experience?
First of all, seeing more storefront challenges in Baltimore would be amazing! And coming into this community of small businesses in Remington has been great; we all had worked in surrounding neighborhoods but now we’re fully here and look forward to diving into more collaborative projects. The small business community in Baltimore is eager and willing to work together, to collaborate. That’s one of the best things about Baltimore, and we’re glad to be a part of it.