Opening a new business during a pandemic is hard enough. Add a climate of protests and tensions following George Floyd’s death, and it’s that much more difficult.
“It’s been tough,” said Rodney Horton, whose new Standard Issue men’s shop opens Saturday.
Earlier in the week, Horton was shooting a video for the store.
“People were standing in the background with their signs up in our intersection,” he said of Douglas and Washington downtown.
The store is several doors east of Larkspur.
Horton also owns Shift Auto Society and Cana Wine & Cocktails downtown. Cana is at the Petroleum Building, where Horton said there was arson at another business earlier this week that resulted in some smoke at Cana.
“It’s a little hair raising,” Horton said of everything going on. “I worry about it every night now.”
He’s regularly checking on his businesses, which Horton calls “kind of sentry duty.”
Horton is opening Standard Issue with former FNL Denim co-owner Levi Fitzmier.
“Not unlike Shift or Cana, it’s another thing I believe Wichita needs,” Horton said.
He said there are men’s essentials, such as clothing, accessories and other items guys might like.
“Everything from custom knives to candles. . . . It’s all masculine stuff.”
A lot of local artisans have created items that will be sold in the store.
“It’s really pretty cool, and it’s really high-quality stuff,” Horton said. “We’re really trying to help everybody.”
Fitzmier said a lot of the vendors work out of their houses.
“This actually gives them a platform now.”
In addition to having a lot of local products, Horton said he’ll also have Wind Surge gear and other locally focused T-shirts.
Local artisans also did a lot of custom building in the space. For instance, there’s an old front of an orange Chevrolet and an old sewing machine, both of which have been turned into bars.
There’s a lot of heavy steel in the space.
“There’s a very military feel,” Horton said. “It’s just kind of a manly deal.”
Local art is in the space as well, and Horton plans to participate in art crawls.
As Horton spent more time downtown with Shift and Cana, he said he realized he had to drive outside of the area or order online if he needed clothes or accessories.
“There is really nowhere to get anything downtown,” he said of items for men.
The store will have a range of price points.
“It’s possible in the near future we’ll have a barber shop in here,” Fitzmier said. “It’s set up for that.”
There’s also a pinball machine for shoppers to hang out at and play.
The store will be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, though the hours could be later depending on interest.
After getting the new shop open, Horton said he’s not planning any other new businesses anytime soon.
“I’m just taking a breath, honestly.”