Pivot Pays Plenty

Oct 12 2015

by Hamlin O'Kelley

This humble post describing a weekend of fun in Charlotte is dedicated to all our Friends and Family recovering from South Carolina’s catastrophic flooding.  We are thinking of you first and foremost.  I pray that there are fun-filled weekends in your near future.  We had the sense of fiddle playing while fires raged around us, but you should all know you’re in our thoughts and prayers.    To paraphrase badly from my new best friend from this weekend, Justin Townes Earle, the dirty water has covered us over, but we’re NOT going to drown.

For all of you alumni of the April 2015 Southern C Summit in Charleston, this update should come as no surprise.  Those in attendance will remember that I had the honor of interviewing my old friend Laura Vinroot Poole kicking off that great event.  Laura spoke to the Summit about lessons learned in business, including her ability to pivot when things did not work.  At the Summit, Laura announced that her men’s store, Tabor, would soon be opening in Charlotte. The store debuted this past Spring, but, this past weekend, Laura hosted Tabor’s grand opening in Charlotte.  Kindly, she invited my wife Mary Perrin, me, and our girls Margaret and Perrin, up for the festivities with a great crowd of creative, energetic, and talented designers, makers, taste-arbiters, artists, stylists, advertisers, and collectors.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 9.54.51 AM

Our hostess for the weekend, Laura Vinroot Poole and future intern, our daughter Margaret O’Kelley.

For all of those who weren’t at the Summit, Laura and I talked about her business successes, and, perhaps more importantly, her failures.   Laura is the owner of two successful ladies’ clothing stores, Capitol and Poole Shop, in Charlotte.  She has also launched House Account, her high-touch shopping app ready for you to download today.  Her latest pivot pays plenty if the Tabor opening weekend is any sign of things to come.

On Friday, our thoughts and hearts were with our flooded friends throughout South Carolina, as we tried to make up to Charlotte for the Friday night casual supper at Tabor.  The flooding shut down a huge chunk of Interstate 95 in South Carolina, slowing down travel all over the state.  Normally, what is a three hour trip turned into an almost five hour adventure with our girls in tow.  As we sat near Orangeburg, all I could think was that we had nothing to complain about compared to our Friends and Family in Columbia, Georgetown, Kingstree, Andrews, and the other hard-hit areas of my beloved Palmetto State.  This is what I26 toward Columbia looked like on Friday afternoon.

Oburg traffic

We were too late to make it to Tabor on Friday night. But we heard that the supper was a great one and may have spawned #tabordayweekend on social media. Check out Instagram to see more pictures from the weekend.  Had we been there, we would have been hosted by Laura and her talented husband, business partner, and in-house architect, Perry Poole. Perry designed Tabor and what an excellent job he did.  Perry  transformed a 20th Century bungalow into a post-modern hub.  He delighted in telling us that the dark exterior is painted in Sherwin Williams’ “Black Panther”  We were sorry to have not gotten the first-hand tour from Perry on Friday, but we did get to catch up on Sunday.  Perry also designed the Capitol and Poole Shop building, which are must see’s for the Patrick Blanc designed vertical garden in addition to the clothes and accessories.  The garden wall NEVER gets old.  Here’s a glimpse:

Garden wall


We hear that  there were a number of talented folks in attendance on Friday night: Alex Drexler, founder of Alex Mill; Alex Faherty of Faherty Brand; Mark McNairy of Mark McNairy New Amsterdam and Perry s one-time roommate; Chris Bray and Kirk Bray of Billykirk who were customizing designs all weekend; Michael Williams of A Continuous Lean; Justin Livingston of Scout Sixteen; Scott Newkirk, fashion stylist, and photographer Matthew Porter whose work was on exhibit at SOCO Gallery, whose space Tabor shares.  The party went on late into the night, or early into the morning.  We were crushed to have missed it, but, luckily our hostess certainly understood.


Just a little leatherwork by Billykirk.

Saturday dawned rainy and cool, which was the last thing we needed, more rain.  The Tabor festivities were to have continued that afternoon and evening with a trip to the Bank of America 500, but Mother Nature had different plans, cancelling the race due to the wet track.  Not to be undaunted, the Tabor crew headed out to the track anyway for cocktails in Taylor Swift’s old touring bus, of course.   Prior to her departure to the track, we were honored to be given a first-hand look at Tabor with Laura herself, after a stop at Capitol and Poole Shop.  If you’re ever in Charlotte, you now have a third must-see shopping experience behind Capitol and Poole Shop.  Laura and team were hosts with the most on Saturday.  In addition to the great space, our hostess and crew welcomed everyone to Tabor with a Bloody Mary bar, water, beer, health drinks, snacks, and desserts.  But, what good Southerner wouldn’t do that?  Tabor evokes the feeling of shopping in your cool Uncle’s house.

Bloody bar

Thirsty yet?

I did make a purchase, but if only I didn’t have children to educate, that Thom Browne raincoat would have headed back to Charleston.   Here are some pictures of the space in all of its streamlined beauty:

Reflections of Tabor

Mirror, mirror leaning on Mr. Poole’s carefully designed wall.


Tabor dummy

Check out the floors and the mirrors in the doorways. Cool, huh?


ON your feet

On your feet, Gentlemen.  On your feet.

well lit

Clean, spacious, gracious racks.

Even though it was dumping rain and cool, we could have hung out on the Tabor porch all afternoon.  Laura has gathered a great group who work there.  At the end of our vist Saturday afternoon, I ended up hugging more people goodbye than shaking hands, bro-hugs included.  Definitely will go back the next time I’m in Charlotte.  You should go, too.  Or, at least follow them on HouseAccount.

As compensation for Saturday, Sunday dawned bright and clear.  At 11:30, we headed back to Tabor for the main event of the weekend.  And, what an event  it was!  Guests from New York, Toronto, LA, Boston, and all over the South were there to celebrate the big day.  We ran into old friends, made new ones, and marveled at our friends’ entrepreneurship, creativity, and latest successful pivot.  At one point, the crowd inside Tabor was wall to wall.  Dan the Pig Man’s barbecue and lamb fed the hungry crowd.  Normally, I say that North Carolina barbecue is like eating a cotton boll, but Dan the Pig Man gave me an appreciation of ‘cue from the Old North State.

Mr. Earles playing

Oh, yeh.  And, this guy showed up with his guitar.  Your typical Sunday barbecue…. just me standing behind Justin Townes Earle on a porch as he warms up the crowd.  As he said, it was a thrill for him to play for the children that were there.  It was a thrill for us, too. And, that’s another great thing about this weekend, the children were included.

By the number of photos being snapped by those assembled, everyone realized that they were in a special place.  I even left with my own parting gift:

Tabor Koozie

The folks on staff at Tabor have continued the high touch shopping experience for which Capitol and Poole Shop are known.  Already on House Account, Tabor’s customers will continue to benefit from that personalized experience. Hell, after being there for a few hours on Saturday, it was like Old Home Week for the Tabor team and us on Sunday.  Way to go to Laura and Perry!  To say that we are impressed would be a great understatement, but we might be biased. That we love the Pooles goes without saying – Hamlin O’Kelley




Hamlin O'Kelley View More Blog Posts from this Author

Hamlin O’Kelley lives in Charleston where he practices law, makes the occasional cheese straw, and writes, when he has time. He’s a 2015 Southern C Alum. He DID interview Laura Vinroot Poole in Charleston. However, it was one Southern C Founder and three other alums who asked him if he would interview his old pal….but his old pal had to convince him.

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