Image: Swell-O-Phonic

There’s reason to celebrate at Fondren Corner today (and no, the sidewalks aren’t done yet).

Chane has kicked off anniversary week at Swell-O-Phonic, marking “a 20-year experiment via multiple wrong turns trying to drive a straight line” with special sales (more on those later) and a trip down memory lane.

In a blog post, Chane recounts how his tee shirt/clothing/gift/skater emporium came to be:

“It’s February 17th, 1998… I was driving through Jackson on the final leg of my 3rd tee shirt promo tour around the country and stopped in a little hippie shop called Shakedown. The robust owner, Billy Wynn made a joke, “Dude, the Chinese restaurant just closed next door, wouldn’t that be funny (as hell) if you opened a tee shirt shop there!”
Well, I guess stupid is as stupid does and this history started exactly  30 days later with just that, a tee shirt shop in an old, dirty former Chinese restaurant. We started with only the money earned from the tee shirt tours – no family money, no outside support, no partners, no investors, no go-fund-me’s, no nothing, but good old-fashioned earned money and utter stupidity!”

Chane’s former employee – and a freelance writer for us at the time, Jesse Crow – helped tell the tale in 2013 when the shop turned 15 and picks up the history lesson from there:

Chane’s ventures in Fondren began March 17, 1998, when he opened Studio Chane by Cups on Old Canton Road. He had a screenprinting studio in the back of the building and sold skateboards in the front.

“I thought I would last maybe a year,” said Chane.

With determination, local support and luck, a snowball effect began and Chane hasn’t looked back.

Six months after Studio Chane began, Chane opened Studio Boutique where he sold tshirts, skateboards, skate shoes and some clothing. Six months later, in March 1999, the screenprinting studio moved to a different location in Fondren, allowing Studio Boutique to expand.

In November 1999, Chane opened Soma, a women’s clothing store (now Wilai). He opened Dwello, a furniture and home furnishings store, in May 2000 in a loft apartment in the Fondren Corner building.”

“By this time, we had moved around Fondren at least six times and started expanding along the same sidewalk where we had begun in 1998,” Chane said in his recent blog post.

In 2001, he co-founded BACKSPIN RECORDS with James Petrovich, threw raves at the shop and began creating “an even more alternative culture in Jackson that molded skate, BMX, style, music and parties.”

His Project Chane division took him to Brooklyn, New York; a skate park (in the current Fondren Public patio area) came to be; the Jackson tee series was born; London, the REAL DESIGNERS MKT NYC, the Wonderlab and PROJECT NOLA all added to the evolution of Chane and Swell-O-Phonic.

In his college days, the suggested path was for Chane to get a 9 to 5, drive a four door car and get a haircut, in no particular order. That was not to be.

“Apparently, this is what you do when you don’t want to grow up,” Chane says. “Has this really been a form of success or just a fairly believable dream? I guess it’s kinda fitting that we choose from here to keep our head in the clouds and keep it unrealistic.”

The Swell-O-Phonic Twenty Year Celebration includes the following daily promotions:

  • MONDAY, MARCH 12 – Sidewalk Sale!
  • TUESDAY, MARCH 13 - Sidewalk Sale + Free buttons, koozies, and tees with every purchase!
  • WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14 – The new “First Dibs Night”

Thursday, Friday and Saturday events are still to be announced.