Hemingway and Pickett in Echo Park
1. How long have you been in business and how did you get started?
The store opened in 2011. I don’t really recall how I got started, honestly. I guess 10 years or so writing and performing in the music business just wore me out and I wanted to do something close to home, something tangible and “undownloadable”. It all happened it a bit of a haze – a small idea that kept getting more serious somehow.
I was always bad at selling myself, but good at selling my friends – so it started just by wanting to help sell the great work of a lot of creative people I had met over the years as a musician. It was either stay in music and risk getting really bitter and tired and more drunk, or do something completely different. I guess this is my “completely different”.
I borrowed a little money to start us off and went for it. Music involves a lot of risk and vulnerability, so it didn’t really feel that intimidating to open a store.
2. Why did you choose this location to open your business?
Probably just because it’s at the end of my street! That sounds lazy, but I also felt confident that I knew the neighborhood pretty well (and what people here would be looking for), as I’d already lived here for 4 or 5 years.
3. How would you describe your store’s style/aesthetic?
Friendly, practical, surprising, a little masculine and definitely with a sense of humor.
4. Where did you get your name from and what other names did you consider?
Hemingway and Pickett was the name of a business my grandfather owned in Melbourne, Australia (where I was born and raised). It was started by his grandfather (my great great grandfather) in 1888. It was sold out of the family around the time I was born and the name disappeared. I wanted to revive it. I never considered another name. I think once I made that connection to my past and the retailing in my blood, it all made sense to me and I had the confidence to do something so far removed from my former profession. The name also keeps me honest and working hard, I feel a great responsibility to only do good with it.
5. What types of items are your best sellers?
It really varies. I designed a keychain for the store that says “I hope I never lose you.” I think that’s our best seller, which I never would have guessed. We also sell a lot of affordable art, which pleases me a great deal, supporting independent artists is a big part of why I wanted to have the store.
6. What item do you have in the store now that you would want to have in your home?
We have a few rare Australian taxidermy pieces that aren’t for sale, they’re just for people to check out (a kangaroo head my mother gave me, an emu, a kookaburra). I’d love to have them at home, but I get a kick out of so many people being able to see them too.
7. What have you been inspired by lately?
I’m still inspired by all the things that inspired me as an artist – music, books, film, artwork. But I think travel is still my number one inspiration. I’ll go just about anywhere and feel inspired. Just getting out of the day-to-day helps my mind open up a great deal.
8. Is there something you thought would sell really well but didn’t?
Oh boy. Happens all the time. All part of the fun! The store would be pretty boring if we didn’t take chances.
9. Where do you mainly source your items from?
Lots of different ways. Traveling. Trade shows. The web. People approaching us – we’ve found a lot of great things directly from artists and makers. We sell a lot of Australian goods that I’ve found through friends down there and from regularly visiting home with fresh eyes.
10. What was the first big lesson you learned from opening your store?
Be open and be stocked.
11. What would your one piece of advice you would give to small businesses?
Listen to your customers.
12. What stores do you shop at?
I tend to stay pretty local – Origami Vinyl, Skylight Books, Old Style Guitars, Individual Medley – I creep around those from time to time.
13. Do you have any plans to expand your inventory?
We’re always trying to cram more stuff in here! Sometimes I have to stop myself so that the store stays spacious and inviting, and doesn’t turn into a finely curated hoarder’s den. Although, that sounds kind of fun, come to think of it…
14. What trends, if any, are you tired of?
I love the California desert, my family and I spend a lot of time out there… but for god’s sake, stylists… let it go.
Here are some hand-picked selections…