Just a few blocks north of Bates on Virginia, you’ll find one of the coolest boutiques in St Louis. Urban Matter is a must if you are looking for a unique gift for any of your family or friends. Whether you need a house warming gift, a token of appreciation to get you out of the dog house, or something for that person who already has everything, this is the place. Mary and Amy are getting ready to celebrate the store’s third anniversary and we decided to ask a few questions to allow the neighbors to get to know them better.
Q: How did you come up with the name Urban Matter?
We thought the first word in our name “Urban” was fitting because we live in a social/economically diverse city neighborhood and the second word “Matter” meant a couple of things to us – first, we thoughtfully curate and offer items of physical substance (matter) and secondly, we believe that our customers, artisans/makers, city and neighborhood truly do “Matter” to us.
Q: When did you and Amy open the store?
Amy and I opened the store September, 20, 2014 which thoughtfully coincided with a Better Block event (betterblock.org) that was co-sponsored by Trailnet (trailnet.org). Both of these organizations help promote neighborhood stabilization and growth, something we care very much about.
Q: Why did you select Dutchtown as the place to have your business?
We own a mixed use building and had space on our first floor to create something, so thought why not start a business. It made economical sense and we saw the benefit of not having to pay exorbitant rent some place else. By doing so, this meant having more control over our wholesale/retail prices. It was very important to us to be able to offer varied price points and offer a good value for the items we sell. The other equally important reason is that we care about our neighborhood growing and thriving with the hopes that Dutchtown is becoming an increasingly unified business district with more shops, eateries and other services that not only people who live in Dutchtown enjoy but people from all over want to visit and support. Together we’re stronger!
Q: What is the most unique product you offer?
I would say our jewelry is probably the most unique but in all honesty we offer many unique and fantastic home goods and gifts to be able to list just one or even a few. Our merchandise changes and grows on a regular basis, partially because we feature so many one of a kind made-by-hand goods. I also like to mention, when possible, we try to offer customization and the ability for our customers to special order things – this is especially true for our leather bags and the lights we make in house.
Q: Do you have a favorite product or favorites that you carry?
You’ll have to come into the store so I can tell you about them! But in all seriousness, many of our personal favorites tend to be associated with some of our favorite makers and the relationships we’ve made over the last 2.5 years we’ve been open. Additionally, we try to offer items we love and think our customers will appreciate based on craftsmanship, uniqueness and value. We’re always thriving to improve our product offerings. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to have the things our customers want, accommodate their requests and exceed their expectations. This is probably a good time to mention that we offer many great gifts for men – ties, cologne, shaving supplies, wallets, socks, bags, etc.
Q: What percentage of products would you say is local?
70% of our merchandise are items made in Missouri and the other 30% comes largely from makers, artisans and independently designed goods in other parts of the US, in addition to a small quantity of apparel and accessories made in Greece, Cambodia, and a couple of fair trade organizations, in addition to the wonderful smelling Palo Santo incense wood from Ecuador. We love supporting locally made goods and believe this is very important to our local economy but we also realize we are a global society and prefer to not be limited in bringing things to St. Louis from other parts of the world as long as they are ethically sourced.
Q: Do you plan to expand the store, or open another location?
When we first opened the store it was approximately 500 sq ft. Upon completely our second holiday season and using what we call the “back room” to accommodate an increase in merchandise, we decided to renovate, expand and increase the size of our store by utilizing this space. starting in May 2016 we grew to just under a 1,000 sq ft. We’d love to have a larger store so we could offer larger furniture pieces among other items, but for now we’ve reached spacial capacity in this location. At this time, we do not have plans to open another store. We hope that being in this location brings awareness to folks that maybe wouldn’t venture over this direction and also inspires other entrepreneurs to open a business in this area. We’d love for Dutchtown to be as popular as South Grand, The Grove and Cherokee Street – wouldn’t that be awesome?!
Q: Are there any product lines you would like to expand into?
Because we offer locally roasted coffee by Stringbean Coffee Company, we would also like to offer our customers quality local tea. We also plan to expand into making customized leather bags for both men and women and possibly adding some locally made clothing. We also have our eyes on some of the best all natural aromatherapy laundry soap and cleaners. The long and short of is, we are always looking at new products because that keeps in new and interesting for us and the customers we serve.
Q: Do you have any upcoming events for Summer and Fall?
We do! Our favorite time of year to have events is from late Spring through early Fall. We have a large and amazing outdoor space that includes a 20 ft x 20 ft covered pergola. It’s a lovely space that feels really good, can accommodate a good sized crowd and we love sharing it with people! We also rent out this unique venue for just about any kind of event or party you can dream up; weddings, receptions, bridal showers, work parties, book clubs, private dinners & meetings, maker events, etc. So far we have one non profit organization hosting a private picnic and two weddings in June and September. Please contact Mary 314-456-6941 for more details and pricing.
Here’s what we have on our calendar so far:
Saturday, July 29 / 4 – 8 pm
We will be at Manmade Presents East Meets West Pop-Up
Old Bakery Beer (400 Landmarks Blvd. Alton, IL 62002)
Saturday, September 30 / 5 – 9 pm (or until the party ends!)
Our 3rd Anniversary Party – come help us celebrate!
Details to follow but we know we’ll have tasty libations and food
* The store will be open from 11 am to 9 pm this day
Q: Where can I find updates on your special events and details about your
On our website: http://www.urbanmatterstl.com/
Or call for details: Mary, 314-456-6941
Q: What do you love most about your building and/or location?
Amy has owned this building for nearly 15 years and our home is upstairs from our shop. This isn’t necessarily an important detail but it definitely helps us explain why we care so much about our store, out door space, neighborhood and customers. Our space will most likely always be a work in progress but we hope it conveys an interesting, welcoming and comfortable atmosphere. For us, it’s just as much about creating community as it is about offering unique and well made merchandise.
Q: What do you love most about the Dutchtown neighborhood?
Even though Dutchtown is one of the largest neighborhoods in the city of St. Louis, there is a growing diverse community of people that sincerely seem to care about helping and supporting each other. We are lucky to call several of our neighbors and customers friends and this truly has been the best thing we’ve gained from opening Urban Matter!
Urban Matter is located at 4704 Virginia Avenue, St Louis, MO 63111. For more information, photos and stay current on their upcoming events, please visit their website www.urbanmatterstl.com, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/urbanmatterstl/, and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/urbanmatterstl/ .
Thank you to Mary for taking the time to take part in our blog. Looking forward to seeing you and Amy very soon!