Gay-owned home dé­cor shop Found Co. opens in De­catur De­tails

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

By DIONNE N. WALKER

Step into the stylish store at 335 W Ponce de Leon Ave. in De­catur, and you’re im­me­di­ately ush­ered into a play­ground for the senses.

Scents of Siberian fir waft gen­tly through the air from high-end can­dles and dif­fusers tucked in nooks and cran­nies around the 1,400 sq. ft., in­dus­trial space. Eye-catch­ing crys­tal geodes glint from float­ing shelves along the pe­riph­ery while on a cen­tral, rus­tic wood ban­quet table, vin­tage-style mag­ni­fy­ing glasses and cloches full of ex­otic plants beckon shop­pers. Jazz mu­sic ac­com­pa­nies the cozy en­vi­ron­ment, made com­plete by a rear sit­ting area that is part dis­play and part in­vi­ta­tion to stay a while.

If you’re not care­ful, you might for­get that you’re in a store at all – and that’s just fine with Ja­son Shadix, co-owner of Found Co. De­catur, an avant-garde home store Shadix and Alan McArthur hope will trans­form the way peo­ple shop for and dec­o­rate their homes. De­scribed as a reser­voir for “col­lected ob­jects and [an] apothe­cary for home and body,” the or­ganic-themed shop full of dis­tinct items is de­signed to get peo­ple to slow down, take in the sights and hope­fully take home an item that brings nat­u­ral, out­door-in­spired beauty in­doors.

“We’re not re­ally a store that you’re just go­ing to run in and run out,” said Shadix, who loves to see cus­tomers linger among the shelves full of min­er­als and vin­tage finds. “It’s re­ally meant to be an ex­pe­ri­ence.”

That ex­pe­ri­ence in­cludes hand-cu­rated and lo­cally pro­duced items cho­sen to com­ple­ment items you al­ready have in your home. In­deed, the store is best de­scribed as an eclec­tic pas­tiche of items, with an earthy theme. Think lots of glass, wood, min­er­als and amaz­ing plants. The se­lec­tion is pur­posely mixed old and new, sleek and homey, prac­ti­cal and whim­si­cal.

“There’s a kind of a move­ment called wa-

De­cem­ber 9, 2016 Found Co.

bi-sabi – ap­pre­ci­at­ing the in­ter­sec­tions in things,” Shadix said, ref­er­enc­ing the pop­u­lar Ja­panese aes­thetic fo­cused on em­brac­ing sim­ple, au­then­tic beauty. “We try to em­brace that.”

Shop­pers dis­cover more through ‘or­ga­nized chaos’

It’s a boldly unique con­cept for a store, yet in the nearly four months since their open­ing along a busy re­tail strip in down­town De­catur, it’s proven a hit.

“We ba­si­cally filled the store with things we like,” Shadix said, adding that he and McArthur’s finds have been cho­sen less for com­mer­cial ap­peal and more to in­spire. “Peo­ple are buy­ing our or­chids, they’re buy­ing our min­er­als, they’re buy­ing the things we’re bring­ing in.”

Some of that is no doubt due to home dec­o­rat­ing trends. One need only look at a few de­sign mag­a­zines or web­sites to learn that “or­ganic glam­our” – ar­ti­sanal finds, botan­i­cal themes and nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als - is one of the hottest emerg­ing trends among in­te­rior de­sign­ers and shop­pers alike. But Shadix, who lives with his hus­band in At­lanta, be­lieves his own de­sign touch plays a role too.

“I like to cre­ate lit­tle vi­gnettes,” said Shadix, who pulls heav­ily from the tai­lored aes­thetic in his own Grant Park bun­ga­low.

Found is ar­ranged to look less like a store and more a like a botan­i­cal-themed den, with mar­ble cut­ting boards and baskets, brass can­dle­sticks and rus­tic fleur-de-lis finials scat­tered about wait­ing to be, well, found.

“It’s not like things are set up on a shelf like lit­tle sol­diers,” said Shadix, who thinks the more “or­ga­nized chaos” ap­proach en­cour­ages shop­pers to dis­cover more. “That’s our unique­ness, kind of the way we mer­chan­dise.” Found Co. own­ers Ja­son Shadix (l) and Alan McArthur (r) in front of the De­catur busi­ness. (Cour­tesy photo)

A busi­ness 25 years in the mak­ing

The store that hopes to trans­form the way peo­ple dec­o­rate their homes in De­catur was ac­tu­ally born in Athens, when Shadix and MacArthur were roomies at the Uni­ver­sity of Ge­or­gia 25 years ago. Back then, they were bud­ding stu­dents who fan­ta­sized about own­ing an artsy cof­fee shop full of books, cards and lamps. Shadix said they dreamed of call­ing it Eclec­tic Elec­tric.

Then came grad­u­a­tion and life, tak­ing McArthur to Tuc­son and Shadix on to a suc­cess­ful ca­reer in spe­cial events plan­ning. McArthur would even­tu­ally re­turn to Athens to open a spa, and not long af­ter, the men re­vived their col­lege fan­tasy of own­ing a cool bou­tique.

“Over the years it changed and mor­phed,” Shadix said. “We al­ways kept the con­ver­sa­tion go­ing.”

Last year, the pair de­cided to get se­ri­ous and fi­nally pull the trig­ger on the idea that had been so many years in the mak­ing.

“Both of us were fi­nally in a place at the same time to do it,” said McArthur, who had re­cently sold his busi­ness and found that Shadix also had more time in his sched­ule to com­mit to the ef­fort. “We had the money and we started look­ing around and we found a place.”

They in­stantly knew De­catur was the per­fect spot and lucked up on a store­front in a res­i­den­tial build­ing with lots of foot traf­fic.

Since then, the pair has been set­tling into the space, try­ing to fig­ure out the best way to ad­ver­tise their unique wares and help­ing cus­tomers nav­i­gate through the eclec­tic se­lec­tion.

A re­cent Sun­day af­ter­noon found Shadix in the rear of the store putting fin­ish­ing touches on fra­grant, hand­made hol­i­day wreaths. The rain had cut down on shop­pers along the strip, but that didn’t dis­cour­age Shadix from feel­ing their au­di­ence is on the rise.

“We have to build it, and they will show up,” he said. “Peo­ple are find­ing us - no pun in­tended.”

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