City & State: New Broad Avenue Coffee And Retail Shop Coming Soon
City & State will take the idea of a coffee shop + gift shop to the next level when it opens in early March on Broad Avenue. I recently went and got a behind-the-scenes look and interview with owner Lisa Toro.
The owners of City & State are a husband-and-wife team, Lisa and Luis Toro, who have always sought out handmade, unique items as gifts for their friends. In recent years, Lisa says she's been inspired by the maker movement (aka the rise of artisans making specialty items by hand or on a small scale) and wanted to bring that to Memphis.
While the original idea was to create an online store of curated goods, once the Toros saw the space in the Broad Avenue Arts District, they fell in love. "We've heard that it allegedly used to be a cobbler shop, but it's a bit of a mystery," Lisa said. "It has such character; we love the exposed brick and beams. Once we changed directions to a brick and mortar store, out of that also came the idea for a coffee house–who wouldn't want to have coffee where they worked?"
When I went, the space was under construction and mostly empty in preparation for inventory deliveries, so I asked Lisa to give me a virtual tour. She says says that when you walk in, you'll see a room full of retail with everything from skincare products to apparel to gifts to kids' items."We'll have an eclectic mix of makers and companies, all sustainable companies with stories that are inspiring," Lisa explained.
I asked her if City & State would carry local products, and the answer is yes and no. While City & State will have a few local makers like Memphis Mean Time, Shotwell Candy, and Paper and Clay, the whole concept seems to be that they want to bring handcrafted and well-made products that you currently can't get in Memphis to the shop.
One wall is slated to be an apothecary section with skincare and scents for both men and women from companies like Prospector Co., Juniper Ridge, Herbivore Botanicals, and Meow Meow Tweet. Lisa says they'll have apparel like the super-popular imogene + willie denim, kids' toys (she mentioned slingshots and Salemtown skateboards specifically), and home goods and housewares, like the Haand mugs that they'll also use for coffee service in the adjacent room.
Click through the album above to see a sampling of available products
Speaking of which, City & State is upping the Bluff City's coffee game by partnering with Intelligentsia Coffee out of Chicago. "What we love about Intelligentsia, beyond their coffee of course, is their 20 years of roasting experience and working directly with coffee farmers to help them, support them, and go above fair trade," Lisa told me. "We'll be the first coffee shop in Memphis to carry them."
She then told me about the specs of their equipment and how the baristas will be trained both onsite and at Intelligentsia's facility and how in the future, they hope to offer coffee flights where the same bean is prepared three different ways, and so forth.
Coffee contraption via @luistoro on Instagram.
She describes the second room (the coffee shop) as a "bright and airy space, with plants and string lights" that will have individual tables and 12-foot-long community tables, plus some more retail, like food items and magazines. We stopped to reminiscence about perusing the fancy magazines at Bookstar years ago (RIP) and talk about how they'll carry some of the same upscale periodicals Memphis has been missing. She assured me there will be plenty of outlets, and a nice patio as well. Her and her husband are working with local design company Collect and Curate for this space.
I like the concept of City & State as a sort of trading post, a term Lisa used toward the end of our tour. Of course we want to support local products and artisans, but Memphis is probably ready to embrace this kind of retail. There's a bit of an exchange of products and ideas, too, as the vendors Lisa works with learn more about Memphis and vice versa.
The whole building will be ADA accessible and will have designated parking in a lot on the south side of the building. There are bike racks nearby. The pourover coffees and teas will be about 3 bucks-ish and products will range from $5 to $200.
The hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m, and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
City & State
2625 Broad Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38112