Ann Mashburn whisks into our meeting with a branded coffee cup already in her hand. Wearing simple jeans, a blue and white striped Oxford, a trench, cowboy boots and cowhide belt, she’s dressed stylishly and sophisticated yet laid back and casual. Classic. The belt, she says with a laugh, is, “the star of the show.” And it definitely makes a subtle statement while leaving me thinking, I could never pull that off. Ann, a former fashion editor-turned-full-time designer and business owner, is a self-proclaimed francophile as well as the visionary behind the new Mashburn coffee shop and lifestyle concept at Atlanta’s Westside Provisions District.
We begin our tour of the new digs, which is flanked by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream to its left and Ann to its right, by discussing Sid’s record collection. Like so many retail spaces, music sets the tone for the shopping experience. However when it comes to the Mashburn stores, music is at the very core of each shop. “We have an oddly large group of serious music lovers, musicians, ex-musicians and current musicians,” Ann explains. “People are attracted to people who like the same things.” In fact, Sid Mashburn’s in-store and ever-rotating vinyl selection is just a small snippet of namesake Sid’s personal collection. The rest is housed across the Westside Provisions bridge in the Mashburn offices. In a small room filled with racks of clothes and tucked against a far wall, you’ll find a table of records, record players and microphones for the weekly WSID vinyl-only radio show, which airs on AM-1690 on Wednesday nights and is replayed on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It’s a testament to the couple’s love for music as well as their desire to be as transparent and approachable as the clothes they stock.
We stop to admire the records, vintage-inspired WSID t-shirts, headphones and players. “I’ll have to take you over there before you leave,” Ann says, and she does. Before I leave Mashburn, I’ll have met just about everyone in the office and warehouse, said hello to a few of my favorite employees (my husband has been a Sid customer for years) and gotten a fascinating peek behind the Mashburn curtain. I feel immediately like I’ve known this team for years and like I could stay as long as I want. It’s a quiet, humble generosity that leaves me smiling.
We make our way around the rest of the Mashburn coffee and lifestyle shop pausing at different tables and shelves to discuss the many ideas that Ann has for the space. It’s her sandbox, where she and her team can experiment with merchandising or play with design. “You can go buy it in there,” she says pointing towards Ann Mashburn, “but here you’re going to experience a pop of an idea.”
And the ideas are ever-flowing. Ann rattles off several examples including moving espadrilles onto the center table for spring or rearranging to include skincare on the shelves. More than anything else, the concept store gives Ann a place to explore. “For me, I want people to always see something a little different when they come in,” she shares. With coffee from Methodical and King State, teas by Kusmi and a selection of H&F pastries, the hope is that visitors will fill a gingham-bottomed cup and peruse the newest selections each time they step through the door.
Aesthetically, the shop has its own look while still feeling a part of the Mashburn family. “This is a place for things to live and breathe on their own,” Ann explains. Each store is connected with a large doorway beckoning visitors to enter. The white walls and marble bistro tables of the coffee shop are a contrast to the dark cabinetry and leathers of Sid’s shop, but are complementary to the pink bergere chairs and gold hardware found at Ann. Walking from space to space, you can feel the subtle changes from one shop to the next without feeling like you’ve been transported. If anything, it’s like walking from a kitchen to a living room to a master bedroom of one house that’s been meticulously designed without being fussy, and all punctuated with vintage kilim rugs.
“I’m so complimented when people love the way the stores workout because I am not [an interior designer]. We find things we love, and we try to put them together. All of our stores are an evolution of just that,” she describes. The duo worked with their on-staff architect to open-up the former G.Gilbert space to reveal skylights and large paned windows and to capture the essence of both original Mashburn stores in the new concept location. Ann also revealed that expanding into home decor, and maybe at least a rug sale or two, isn’t that out there of an idea: “We’ll see what the appetite is.”
There are tables of stunning coffee table books, Diptyque candles and melamine plates, bowls and platters that look more like handmade pottery than outdoor servingware. Large floor pillows in floral Liberty of London fabrics are displayed on bottom shelves or under tables. Baskets and totes perfect for the beach have prime retail real estate. The most eye-catching section, however, is the far left wall. It’s filled with colorful children’s clothes in classic Mashburn styles with a few fresh twists. “Everything looks better tiny. Even a tiny book looks cuter. My own heritage is home sewing and making kids clothes. When I was a young mother, I couldn’t afford all of the beautiful things, so I would smock and make cute things for my girls,” Ann recalls. Kid Mashburn, only available in Atlanta’s concept location or online, came about organically and on somewhat of a whim. “A while ago, we made a cute little cashmere sweater. [We thought] as long as we’re making the big ones, we’ll see if it sells; let’s just make a few things. If we can add it to our assortment, and it’s a labor of love, then we all love to do it.”
At Kid Mashburn (sizes 2Y-8Y) shoppers will find similar fabrics to those sold at Sid and Ann, especially since it’s such a great way to use extra fabric that otherwise finds its way to the scrap bins. “Everything is in the same vein as what we do. They’re very classic things that I would have put my girls in,” she says. Visitors can also choose from a thoughtful selection of highly curated novelty items like cuffed French Vietnamese jackets, espadrilles and books that have been sourced from Europe. “We go to these places and find things that look unique. I think it’s harder and harder today. Everything is here,” she says pointing to her phone. “We’re trying to make our edit but also [find] something surprising that you won’t find anywhere.”
Ann says the key to Mashburn — both the new addition as well as every other shop in their repertoire — is that it’s as much about the experience as it is the items you go home with. “I wasn’t such a shopper. When I did buy things, it was because I was on vacation or in a new city, or I found a shop I had not been in before, and it was as much about the experience that I had when I was there as it was purchasing the thing.”
That idea is laced throughout every aspect of the Mashburn brand. The store’s Instagram account has seemingly hand-drawn black boxes around each photo. Online orders are packaged with cheeky stickers and beautiful ribbon. Employees know customers and their spouses by name. In fact, one of the guys at Sid still knows my anniversary because he helped us design the groomsmen’s looks for our wedding nearly five years ago (hi, Randall). At Mashburn, it’s not just sifting through hangers or trying on shoes. It’s an experience. “The real name of the coffee shop, which is what we try to do in everything that we do, is Your Needs Met. Whatever you need. Do you need a dinner reservation? Do you need to know a song on an album that you heard in the store? Whatever you need, we’re going to try to do.”
The new Mashburn concept shop, featuring coffee, Kid Mashburn, home decor and other small gifts, is located at 1198 Howell Mill Road, Ste. 109, Atlanta, GA 30318. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Find more information at annmashburn.com.
All photography by Nicole Letts unless otherwise noted.
Read about more fabulous Atlanta shopping destinations in our “Store Highlights” section.