Aspen’s Two Old Hippies gets expansion fever
September 25, 2011
ASPEN – Two Old Hippies, an Aspen bastion of acoustic guitars, flower-power threads and just about all things groovy, has taken its act on the road.
Owners Tom and Molly Bedell have opened a 8,000-square-foot outlet in the Gulch, a recently redeveloped retail, office and residential district near downtown Nashville, Tenn. Monday marks the one-week anniversary of the launch in the artsy mixed-uses district.
It’s an extension of the Aspen shop, albeit one that is eight times larger than the sister store, with much more room to navigate. There, you’ll find the same types of items: expensive Breedlove-brand acoustic guitars, novelty items with some sort of ’60s connection, even clothing inspired “by the art of John Lennon.” Only there’s a lot more of it in the sprawling store, which also features a Volkswagen van painted in trippy colors.
Molly Bedell said she and her husband realized a year and a half ago that it might be time to take their business concept elsewhere.
“You know the nature of (retail) in Aspen; it’s just short-lived in terms of tourism and all the shoulder seasons,” she said. “We said, ‘It’d be really nice to test this concept that we have in a year-round market.’ “
They thought of New York or California, but had friends in Nashville, so they visited the Tennessee capital about a year ago and started scouting potential locations. Bedell found the right spot in March and began negotiating what would be a 10-year lease with an option to renew.
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“This (property) was an old print shop. Then it was a bakery before us. It’s in a very old building with a long rectangular space. We almost completely gutted it and started fresh. We kept a few rooms. It has a lot more of everything because it’s so much larger but it still has the same feel and flavor of the Aspen store. It’s very eclectic; just think ‘a lot more guitars.’ “
Two years ago, Two Old Hippies took over the Monarch Street space formerly held by guitar shop The Great Divide. The Great Divide line is still sold at Two Old Hippies and is slowly being phased out.
The Nashville shop features a room they call “The Vault,” which Bedell describes as home for Breedlove and Bedell guitars where customers can try out the various styles.
“It’s been great. People are absolutely loving it. They’ve never seen anything like it,” she said of the new location.
Bedell said she enlisted the help of Nashville designer Leah Sohr to get the building ready. “We both think and see things the same. We had so much fun, with everything from making custom jewelry cases and fixtures to all the paint selections,” she said.
The company’s website holds that Two Old Hippies not only is about retail and business, but also a philosophy. “Two Old Hippies is inspired by the values of our generation, steeped in the beliefs that we are one human race, that all living things have equal value and purpose, that we have stewardship responsibility for our Mother Earth, and that the more love we give – the more we get!”
Further, the unique enterprise represents “a lifestyle – an attitude – a connectivity among how we live, work and treat one another.”
An expansion of that lifestyle and attitude in another city is possible, she said, but her next venture may be something a bit different: a shoe store in Nashville, across the street from Two Old Hippies. She’s got her business plan together, and plans to call it Two Old Soles.
By the way, the Aspen store, despite the rollercoaster tourism seasons, is doing well, Bedell said, and still figures prominently in the company’s plans. The local store employs five workers, and the Nashville store has 11.
Bedell said she’s lived in Aspen for 30 years and will remain a resident here.