New to the Neighborhood: T-Dubs Mercantile Takes On BTC

Caught between the waves of the First Coast and the putting green in Ponte Vedra, the Beaches have often found themselves at the crux of a fashion-based identity crisis. If you don’t fall into either of those categories, it can often be difficult finding a place to shop. Recognizing a dire need in the local market, husband and wife duo Julie and Tom Weber made quick work of filling in the gaps and thus, T-Dubs Mercantile was born. Part effortlessly cool retail space, part speakeasy dive bar, the store is the hip place you dream of finding yourself in - a space where you can shop for a shirt and mingle with local legends over a drink, all at the same time.
 
To welcome them to the neighborhood, we chatted with the owners about everything T-Dubs below:
 
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WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE ON BEACHES TOWN CENTER FOR YOUR BUSINESS VENTURE?
Beaches Town Center is the heart of our local business and entertainment district. We have a variety of restaurants, shops, and hotels all within walking distance. This is a place where both locals and visitors from near and far come. There are a number of events that take place in the Beaches Town Center such as a monthly Art Walk. T-Dub's is a good compliment to the area. We feature premium men's apparel, skin care and accessories. We also have gift items for the men in your life who 'have everything' and appreciate quality. There are not many shopping options for men in our area. In addition, all of our art is for sale and features local artists. Finally, the icing on the cake is our bar in the back. You can come sip and shop in a beautiful environment or you can hang out, play some shuffleboard or other games and enjoy a chilled afternoon or evening at 'the corner' with friends.
 
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WHAT KIND OF FOLKS DOES T-DUBS CATER TO? T-Dub's caters to men and women who appreciate quality and style. We carry premium brands that are a match for our casual, coastal lifestyle. Our clothing ranges from perfect apparel for a day on the beach, boat, or links to business casual or a night on the town. We have selected labels that you don't have broad distribution locally and we prefer to carry brands that focus on style, comfort and performance as well as have some sort of social or environmental commitment be it restoring oyster beds or cleaning the ocean or generating local employment as examples. We want our customers first impression to be "Wow! This place is unique and beautiful. I feel welcome and want to explore the merchandise to find the perfect match for me".
 
Our products are more on the premium end and are stylish in a way that is lasting. Our merchandise caters to professionals at work in a business casual environment and at play. People that want to look good, feel good, have functional accessories and appreciate fine art will feel right at home in T-Dub's.
 
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WHAT KIND OF HURDLES DID YOU HAVE TO JUMP WHILE BUILDING AND OPENING T-DUBS?
One of the main challenges that we had was how to use the space. The previous tenant had a kitchen and prep area in the back. As a nature of the physical layout it wasn't conducive to completely reconfigure the walls and layout. That's when we had the idea of adding the bar. While sip and shop is not a unique concept, we think our model is relatively uncommon. We serve beer, wine and canned cocktails. You can sip and shop any time the retail space is open, and the bar stays open later than the retails as we close off the retail with subway gates. When the retail is closed and the bar is open, you enter through the back door speakeasy style. The bar component has been well received, so we feel like our 'experiment' of combining bar and retail has so far been successful. We have a contest going to name the bar, so stay tuned for that…
 
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WHERE DID THE DRIVE TO OPEN T-DUBS EMERGE FROM? WHAT KEEPS YOU BELIEVING IN SUCCESS?
We wanted to open T-Dub's as we saw an unmet need relative to the Beaches Town Center and the Beaches overall. There are many choices for women's clothing and accessories and not that many for men. We thought that if we could provide desirable ambiance for both men and women to shop and provide a selection of products geared toward men at the beach that it would fill a niche and be a welcome addition to Beaches Town Center. Every new business owner enters their new venture committed to it being a success. Prior to opening we had focus groups, pop-ups and other events to solicit feedback and give us a sense of confidence that we were heading in the right direction. We love hearing from our customers about what products in our existing assortment that they like as well as what other brands or products that they would like to see. Humility is one of our core operating principles -- while we have a certain aesthetic we are trying to achieve, we know that good ideas come from many different sources. We are here to serve and provide a unique shopping experience.
 
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WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST PART ABOUT RUNNING THE STORE SO FAR? HOW HAS THE PUBLIC RECEIVED T-DUBS?
Our favorite part has been our clients. People are discovering T-Dub's and what it has to offer in totality. We have not had a heavy advertising push yet as we were getting off the ground. While social media and word of mouth has been positive for us we have the benefit of capturing the natural foot traffic that is in the area. It has been great meeting people from the Beaches community as well as visitors. People like to share their story and visitors can take back a reminder of the great time that they had on the First Coast with some T-Dub's merchandise. The reception has been great. We took over the space in September 2018 and opened in June 2019, so people were wondering what was coming. We had a teaser campaign during construction which was fun and now that we are open, we are humbled and grateful by the outpouring of well-wishes and support from our business neighbors, customers and visitors alike. Now our mission is to spread the word and keep people coming back by providing exceptional products and services.
 
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WHAT PLANS DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR YOUR SPACE? WHAT CAN FOLKS LOOK FORWARD TO? We have a lot of plans for T-Dub's. On the retail side, we are looking forward to doing trunk shows, fashion shows in conjunction with some of the other local stores, and having unique events featuring our brands in conjunction with other events in the area such as The Donna Marathon or TPC as examples. We are going to have artist pop-ups and receptions. As far as the bar goes, we are looking at starting a shuffleboard league, hosting game nights, renting the space for private events, and looking for other ways to create a community oriented space to come for an evening or afternoon of fun, relaxation and camaraderie.
 
Check out our website here and our social media for details and schedule of events.

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