Nine-year-old Dallas shoe company Hari Mari isn't just dipping a toe tentatively into the city's buzziest new shopping district. They're stepping firmly in, debuting a 3,500-square-foot flagship store at 3213 Knox St. on Thursday, May 13.
It's the first dedicated brick-and-mortar shop for the socially conscious flip-flop company founded as an online retailer by Jeremy and Lila Stewart in 2012.
And with the new space comes new merchandise to fill it: Hari Mari is expanding into apparel, accessories, and even more shoe and boot styles than they've sold online. Shoppers will find T-shirts, hats, belts, men's shorts, women's windbreakers, and — oh, yes — about 60 styles of flip-flops, too.
Technically, Hari Mari has had a storefront in East Dallas since their Haskell Avenue headquarters and fulfillment center opened for in-person shopping in 2018. That space was never meant to be a store, they say, but it got them thinking about one.
"At the end of 2019, when we looked at the books for the year, we were shocked to see the volume of business out of Haskell," Lila Stewart says. "Having stores was never in our business plan, it's never something we talked about or dreamed about."
Then COVID hit, and those business plans, conversations, and dreams changed — and then they changed again.
"Just thinking about it, I get goosebumps," she says. "For everybody, it was a really stressful year."
In March 2020, she says, 80 percent of retailers that sell Hari Mari around the country canceled their inventory or put it on hold — inventory the company had already ordered and paid for. The Stewarts thought they might lose the business.
But by May, a curious thing happened: they were seeing record sales online.
"Everyone was shopping online, and what does everyone wear when working from home and not getting dressed up in summer? Flip-flops," she says.
They now had the inventory to fulfill skyrocketing demand on HariMari.com, she says, and by October 2020, they were revisiting their brick-and-mortar idea. They brought on Jake Szczepanski, former Billy Reid CEO and designer, who spearheaded the expansion.
They zeroed in on the Knox-Henderson area, which is having a moment as a newly reinvigorated shopping district. Recent high-profile openings include RH Dallas, a glittering new reincarnation of Restoration Hardware, and Dallas' first outpost of luxury resale shop The RealReal.
"Growing up in Dallas, in Highland Park, we've always loved this location for its walkability, its trails, its good central location," Stewart says. "With all the activity there, it's changed significantly. It's always been a great place and continues to evolve and expand, and it's kind of fun to be part of the energy."
The new store is located in the former Osgood O'Neil Salon across the street from a Starbucks and Pottery Barn. It will be the only place to find the new Hari Mari apparel, which likely won't go online for six weeks or so after the launch, Stewart says.
Eventually, they'd love to hire an in-house designer, but to start, she says, the collection has been a collaboration among everyone on the existing Hari Mari team. "I selected our handwoven hats from from Mexico, the gents in the office perfected our men's shorts, while all of the ladies fine tuned our windbreakers," she says.
Each piece — from colorful windbreakers with leather zipper handles, to soft cotton "Texas heritage" T-shirts — is made using premium fabrics and materials Hari Mari fans have come to expect from the brand, she says. Prices start around $45.
Another thing that won't change? Their commitment to charity. Just like with online sales, 1 percent of all store purchases will go to help those battling pediatric cancer through the campaign Flops Fighting Cancer.
Their commitment to pediatric cancer will also now be evident at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth.
"We are so excited to announce that, based on our philanthropic donations to Cook Children's in 2020, they have now named their infusion room after Hari Mari," Stewart says. "It's where all of the pediatric cancer patients receive chemo — a bright, festive, fun room that will now be the Hari Mari Infusion Room. We are excited the hospital wanted to do that and grateful that what we were able to give was impactful."