Don’t think of it as simply a store. Work the Metal is a perfect afternoon housed in a supercool, vintage warehouse. A trip to this Butchertown favorite is a full-immersion escape from the mundane where you find clothes you can’t wait to wear, gifts you can’t wait to give, draperies you can’t wait to hang and mimosas you can sip while browsing (and they’re only a dollar on Saturday. It’s true.). And it’s all incredibly and even weirdly affordable. Work the Metal is a shop that has grown... and grown... and grown some more, driven by customers’ needs and its undeniable popularity.
This hip, local department store alternative began humbly enough, as a four hundred square foot metalwork shop that grew out of an empty space and a metal manufacturing company. “I was the CFO at the time and we owned the website ‘work the metal.com,” explains co-owner Jack Mathis. “Four hundred square feet opened in our building and I thought ‘Let’s use that name and feature metal products.’”
So the shop that appeals to all ages and shoppers began as a tiny space that sold creative metal work. “People assumed that we are metalsmiths,” laughs Jack. After a year or so, another tenant moved out and with business looking good, they decided to expand to one thousand square feet and expand their merchandise in the process. “Just featuring metal was kind of cold,” he says. “We wanted to add some texture. So we added other items. I just went to the market and just picked things I liked.”
"Just featuring metal was kind of cold. So we added other items. I just went to market and picked things I liked."
Jack picked things that everyone else likes as well. From fabulous light fixtures to decorative switchplate covers to funky accessories and eye-catching furnishings, WTM, has evolved into a virtual treasure trove of not only things you want to buy, but things the people you’re shopping with want to buy as well— no matter what their age, gender or aesthetic. “A lot of it has evolved from finding a need for things in my own life,” he says. “We now carry products for babies, women’s clothing, shoes, men’s clothing, gifts, tableware, artwork, toys, rugs, furniture, fun gifts and jewelry. We want everyone to come in and have a great experience and have something fun to look at.” Shared space with local companies Moss Hill (locally-made natural beauty products) and Cellar Door Chocolates only adds to the something-for-everyone-vibe.
And, new this fall, there’s the… drumroll please… wine bar. Yes, now you can not only browse eclectic, easy-on-the-wallet finds in a fantastic space, but you can sip wine, or beer, or champagne while doing it. Hungy? There’s a small menu of salads, sandwiches and sweets from Paul’s, Lotsa Pasta and Scarlet’s Bakery (more local goodness). And… if you want to pop in on your lunch hour, they’ll have your lunch wrapped and ready to go. “So you can grab something and go back to your desk and eat; so you don’t have to sacrifice eating for shopping,” says the man who may have thought of everything. Did I mention that they will gift wrap everything in a pretty Tiffany-blue box with a great big grosgrain ribbon? (Even that eight dollar pair of earrings you bought for your friend.)
And service doesn’t stop with the gift-wrapping. Manager Amanda Peay provides in-house interior design consults. “You can bring her a picture of a room or a wall and she can design the wall or pick pillows for your sofa,” says Jack. These in-store appointments are free, but she can also do in-home consults for a small fee. Amanda and the sales staff are also great with styling outfits, picking accessories to match a dress or finding a gift for your finicky sister. It’s all part of the full-blown, fun excursion that is a trip to Work the Metal. “We want people to be able to come in, bring anyone and have a good time,” says Jack. “We want to be a place where you can spend the day or a couple of minutes and walk out happy.”