The couple behind several well-known stores in the region opens a new one in Leesburg, which seeks to bring you back to old-fashioned, brick-and-mortar shopping.
Rugged. Bohemian. Masculine, with a feminine touch. These are the adjectives that come to mind when you walk into Brick and Mortar, a downtown Leesburg shop, created by Ben and Tara Wegdam, that opened its doors in late spring.
The husband-and-wife team knows a thing or two about retail. They’re the masterminds behind West Federal Retail, the parent company of Lou Lou Boutiques, Crème de la Crème and Zest, totaling 35 stores across the East Coast (with a second Brick and Mortar opening in Frederick, Maryland in October).
Brick and Mortar is the newest addition to the company’s lineup, located on King Street. “It’s an entertainment store,” says Ben. “It’s not a store where you go to buy 12 of something that are the cheapest. But if you want to see something fun, you have to come to the store.”
At Brick and Mortar, the entertainment the Wegdams are promoting comes in the form of interactive experiences. There’s a piano, propped open to encourage guests to play, a record player (feel free to bring in your own vinyl), a leather bracelet-making station where you can create phrases on the bracelet, and, if you come in at the right time on a Friday night, a beer upon entry.
“Everybody’s on their computers, their phones, but after a while they close them and say, ‘Let me go somewhere,’” Ben says. “We needed to be where people are, in the entertainment district, and we couldn’t have a boring store to fit that demographic.”
Ben and Tara choose each item in the store (which sells none of its products online—a true brick-and-mortar) themselves to ensure that none of them are mundane. “Our products are just fun,” Ben says. “They’re American-made, some are international, some are local, some are name brands people recognize. And it’s always rotating.”
At the local level, the store hosts trunk shows each week where a vendor comes and sells their products, with Brick and Mortar typically taking none of the profits, but, “if the response is good from people, we will consider carrying their product in the store,” Ben says.
Products at Brick and Mortar range from your typical home decor (candles, signs with fun phrases on them, artwork) to unique finds you likely won’t see elsewhere, like speakers made out of guitar cases, leather koozies, whiskey-flavored toothpicks and funny books with titles like, Why Do Men Have Nipples?.
“We try to bring high energy into the store,” says Ben. “Every item, Tara and I bought ourselves. For us to select products, it has to be good quality, it has to give back to charity or it has to have a unique aspect. It’s also about the packaging. It’s my intention to put things that we think are cool, that we think are worth buying.”
And, after finding those cool items to take home, don’t be startled if you hear a little tweet when checking out at the register. That’s just “Brick” and “Mortar,” the store’s pet parakeets, giving you one more fun experience before you go. // 34 S. King St., Leesburg
This One’s For The Boys
Although all products available at Brick and Mortar can be gender neutral, the store definitely has a man’s touch. Here are our top picks for incorporating its masculine energy into your own space.
Besides country music, there’s usually one other thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Willie Nelson. His coffee, Willie’s Remedy, is reminiscent of that, infused with certified organic, full-spectrum hemp oil grown in Colorado. // Willie Nelson “Willie’s Remedy” organic hemp-derived CBD whole bean coffee $30; CBD double-strength whole bean coffee; $35
The peace sign? Fingers crossed? One not-so-classy finger in the air? Whatever your vibe, these intricate candles, which come in a multitude of colors and hand signals, are a sure way to add a unique aesthetic to your home. // Candle Hand; $49
Ben is originally from The Netherlands, and it’s also where Ben and Tara spent time together when she was living there in her 20s. This bracelet pays respect to their roots, as it’s made in Holland and comes packaged in small cigar boxes well-recognized by the Dutch. // Pig & Hen Amsterdam sailor bracelet; $89
We know, we know … another candle? Really, you can never have too many, especially when they are handcrafted grenade oil lamps. // Piet Houtenbos grenade oil lamps; $75