When Courtney Webb opened her shop Hey Rooster General Store in East Nashville, TN almost four years ago, she poured her heart into renovating her little freestanding building, bringing life to the once drab building. The exterior of her shop became part of her brand, and when she learned that she was going to lose her lease, she asked herself, do I close, or do I relocate? As she started looking for a new space, it seems that fate intervened and was on the side of this Nashville local.
“As I was losing my lease — due to the landlord wanting to turn it back into his office — a local and beloved used bookstore called BookMan BookWoman was also closing and breaking Nashville’s heart,” Courtney recalls. “The owners made the decision to retire, but remained owners of the building. I frequently visited a friend opening a restaurant nearby and saw the ‘for sale’ sign go up [at the bookstore]. My heart sank because, well, I could never buy that! […] In late January, all who expressed interest [in the bookstore] received an email from the owners saying they would not sell, but lease and look for a tenant! I closed my East Nashville shop and headed over to meet the owners. We talked about old Nashville and I told them that if I rented the space I wanted to carry on the legacy of BookWoman by keeping the painted name on the building and developing a learning library focused on books by women, about women, feminism, etc. General stores have always been spaces for community, and [I told them] ‘this is the kind of space and energy we need right now.’ As we were talking, the neighborhood Chinese New Year parade went by. I said [to the owners], ‘You know today is the first day of the Year of the Rooster?’ I signed the lease a few days later and started working on the space a few days after that.”
Since the bookstore occupied the building for so many years and had become such a Nashville staple to the area known as Hillsboro Village, Courtney wanted to honor the former while bringing the brand she had built into the fold. “Leaving our recognizable storefront [behind] was a challenge and I did not want any interruption in our brand,” she shares. “I wanted the new location to feel like the old shop. It was my goal to make sure existing customers would recognize where they are although we have moved, expanded, and added inventory. I like to call the style ‘Mid-Century Farmhouse,’ and I think we’ve been able to continue that in the new space.” Now with bright green floors and the spirit of a beloved old bookstore, Hey Rooster General Store lives on in its new chapter. —Erin
Photography by Hannah Messinger
Image above: Combining three vintage doors, Courtney and her stepfather, Dean, were able to build the front counter at Hey Rooster.