When you say, “The Near Southside” (or even “the South Side”), the first place you probably think of is West Magnolia Avenue, a pedestrian-friendly quarter-mile strip of vibrant independently owned bars, restaurants, bar/restaurants, retailers, and storefronts. You may even think of Hemphill Street near West Richmond Avenue, a crime-ridden stretch but one with a lot of underground charm thanks to the DIY institution 1919 Hemphill and adult playground The Where House. One area you may not think of — yet — is around South Main Street. There are businesses there, including Amphibian Stage Productions, and some buildings renovated into residences, but after 6 on most nights, the street and its labyrinth of warehouses are dead. And scary.
While this nook might not seem like an ideal spot for socializing, along comes Shipping and Receiving, a new venue/bar specializing in cheap drinks and premier, mostly North Texas-local indie-rock. And because of the people behind the new venture, including co-owner Eddie Vanston, S&R just might be the start of something big on South Main.
“None of us particularly wanted to get into the bar business,” said Vanston, a local developer with several other properties in North Texas, including on the Near Southside, “but people have speculated property [over here], wanting to open something in the future but not wanting to be the first guy to do it. So basically, we’re the sacrificial lamb for the neighborhood.”
Vanston hopes the venue will beef up the neighborhood’s cultural/commercial infrastructure. S&R has already hosted several successful daylong concerts during the neighborhood’s biannual Arts Goggles. “Unless we get our brains beat out and [can’t] weather the storm, other people will come along with it,” he said.
Housed in a three-story, 14,000-square-foot building built in 1910 that’s on the National Register of Historic Places, Shipping and Receiving is mostly an outdoor venue –– the 16-by-24-foot stage faces a long, narrow beer garden on what was once a street, outfitted with picnic tables that seats about 350. Inside is capacity for about 150 (and air conditioning and no smoking). Vanston wants Shipping and Receiving to be a comfy neighborhood spot while also an integral part of the North Texas music community. “It’s infrastructure for the local music scene too,” he said.
Local music, in fact, is what will distinguish Shipping and Receiving from just about every other venue in town, including Magnolia’s slightly smaller Live Oak Music Hall and Lounge, the nearest other venue. S&R’s booking is being done in-house by Lindsey Brown, a 23-year-old fine arts graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington who’s been a fan of local music since high school. In the spirit of the Fillmores east and west and Austin’s Armadillo World Headquarters, Brown also will design posters for every S&R show.
S&R has scheduled its grand opening this weekend, featuring some outstanding local (read: mostly Fort Worth-based) heavy hitters: The Orbans, Will Callers, and Longshots on Friday; Calhoun, Fou, and Trai Bo on Saturday; and Sally Majestic, My Wooden Leg, Panic Volcanic, and The Phantom Sensation on Sunday. All shows are free. “I try to pick things I listen to,” Brown said.
Along with his development team, Vanston, who bought the building a couple of years ago, has transformed the top two stories into industrial loft apartments. S&R opened for residential business in June, and 17 of the 23 available spaces have been rented. Along with the venue, several other businesses –– including Fort Worth Bike Sharing, luthier Travis Wade, and Robert W. Kelly Architect Inc. –– are located on the ground floor. Parking is on the street.
“At night, there’s no one on the streets, and we encourage people to get on bikes,” he said, noting that a ride from Magnolia to Shipping and Receiving takes 10 to 12 minutes. “I think [an isolated] location like this can be a problem, but it can also be a benefit,” he said. “You’ve got to kind of work to find it. … I like being off the beaten track, and, frankly, all of our buildings over here have been off the beaten track. Why should this be any different?”
Vanston sees Shipping and Receiving as a kind of manifestation of the character of Near Southsiders. “The best thing about this neighborhood is the people that are attracted to it,” he said. “They’re just off-the-beaten-track kind of people.”
To accommodate S&R tenants, shows will start around 8:30 p.m. and wrap up around midnight. They will go on rain or shine. “No more rainouts,” Vanston said flatly, adding that shows will be brought inside (and turned down a few decibels) when the rain starts. His inspiration is one particularly soggy Arts Goggle. Three huge-at-the-time local bands –– Telegraph Canyon, Doug Burr, and Earthquake Country –– were about to take the S&R stage, but then the rain came. The gig was relocated to The Chat Room Pub on Magnolia. Eddie Vanston paid the bands.