Lucas Wassner is the owner of Dixie Garage, a men’s supply shop, located in downtown Florence on Mobile Street. He grew up in Muscle Shoals and got a degree in outdoor recreation at the University of North Alabama. He then worked as a park ranger in South Dakota at Wind Cave National Park for three seasons. After he and his wife spent a month on the road and two months in Florida, they decided to come back to Florence. For a year and a half Lucas was the manager at Alabama Outdoors then he left to open Dixie Garage August 2015. For the first six months he shared a space on College Street with another business. That space is actually where he got the name for his business; Dixie Garage is what his friend called the space prior to him moving in. February 2016, Lucas moved Dixie Garage to 110 East Mobile Street. I asked him why he chose downtown Florence and he said, “because I love downtown Florence, I love the people and the events. It is the place to be.”
Dixie Garage is such a unique store, I was very curious as to what inspired Lucas to start his business. He told me that he was seeing a new store for women opening up every other week. There was a need in the community for a men’s store. There are many boutiques in the area for women, so why not for men? He wanted to open a store where men could find original products that couldn’t just be found in department stores. He was tired of getting the same basic stuff.
Just like most new businesses, Lucas faced challenges when starting his business. He said one of the hardest things was getting exposure. To get a jump on getting their name out, the Dixie Garage Instagram account was started a month before they opened their doors. They also set up booths at First Fridays downtown. Another challenge he mentioned is that starting and managing your own business takes a lot of time and effort. Lucas and his wife, Chelsea, are the only ones working at Dixie Garage. With a one year old daughter and a baby boy on the way, time and effort will be an ongoing challenge.
When it comes to the future, Lucas does not really want to open multiple locations. He would rather make the one location a destination, a place where people come from out of town to shop. He would like to grow his inventory, have a wider variety of products, and get more people in the door.
Lucas is a few months shy of the one year anniversary of Dixie Garage’s opening. It is always best to take advice from someone that has been in the same situation, so I asked him what advice he would give to someone wanting to start their own business. He simply replied, “Quit talking about it and do it.”
We talked about the difficult parts of owning a business but what are the rewards? Lucas said his inventory is made up mostly of makers products, products that are locally made. He said they get just as excited when he makes sells. He is glad to help them by doing this.
My final question for Lucas was how did he want to impact the community. He told me he wants to be new and fresh always and he wants to bring in lots of traffic from other places. One way he is doing this is by Bingo Night. Monday April 18 was the first Bingo Night hosted by Dixie Garage at 116 on Mobile Street. Lucas said it was a great turn out and he hopes to make it a monthly event.
We are just as excited to see how Lucas and Dixie Garage will change and grow the community! They are open Monday 11-5 and Tuesday-Saturday 11-7. Stop in and check out all the cool products they have!