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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Howdy Partner: Creative firm celebrates Fort Worth, cowboys and kitsch with south side retail shop

Space Cowboy of Fort Worth

www.spacecowboyfw.com/

When Andrew and Amy Yanez moved PytchBlack, their multi-disciplinary advertising and design firm, to Magnolia Avenue, one thing they noticed right away was that while there were many places to eat and drink, there wasn’t much retail.

The Yanezes are creative people, and a conversation with them is like one of those Fourth of July fountains – sparks fly off in all directions. And meanwhile, Andrew is tossing around a Koozball – a product he patented that can be branded with a logo and will keep a can of something cold, and can still be thrown like a football.

“We moved into this building and I started watching the people walk by at lunch,” Amy said. “I’d come down here at night on a Saturday and I would watch people stand in the streets waiting for tables. And I said, ‘Andrew: retail. We need to do retail.’ He’s looking at me like, ‘you’re crazy.’ ”

And that was the birth of Space Cowboy of Fort Worth at 707 W. Magnolia Ave.

Yanez was chief creative officer and a founding partner in Concussion, a full-service advertising firm. He left the agency in 2013 with wife Amy, then the Media Director, to start PytchBlack.

Clients have specific messaging and direction to accomplish business objectives, sometimes creatively, sometimes strategically – they may not see the world as a creative. But when you are creating for yourself, it’s all guns blazing.

Let’s just say that an unfettered Andrew Yanez is something to behold.

Amy is the brains behind the effort, he says, but he’s the designer and together they are developing and displaying a line of products that have Fort Worth and Texas themes but are more kitschy than what is in the marketplace currently. “Kitschy” is Andrew’s term for stuff that on the outside edge might fry your brain.

“This town’s pretty conservative,” he says with understatement, “so we’re gonna be busting through with a couple things that may raise a few eyebrows.”

Well, yes.

Amy and Andrew want products that are first, uniquely Fort Worth and by extension uniquely, Amy’s word, “Texassy.”

Andrew recalls the start of the Hard Rock Cafe , which first opened up with locations in London, Paris and New York.

“We’re inspired to do the same thing , except for Texas with a line of stuff called Texclamation. Texclamation will be something that you can find in San Antonio, Austin, DFW, Houston and maybe El Paso.” It ‘s like the ad says, “Texas: It’s Like a Whole Other Country. ”

It is, he says, being a design entrepreneur – creating a property and owning the property as opposed to always creating content “for our great clients”; it’s a personal outlet for expression.

“If another retailer in Fort Worth has it, we don’t want it,” Amy said. “We don’t want the same old stuff. We want it to be fun, we want people to walk out of Space Cowboy smiling and happy.”

It’s not always G-rated, she says, although “none of my friends have been offended, or scared, or concerned to bring their kids in,” she said.

“Andrew and his design team came up with our initial line of T-shirts, mugs, postcards, art prints and we thought we’d kick it off ,” she said. “And then we are looking to bring in other merchandise lines that are from like-minded creatives and design entrepreneurs.”

And some of it may not be politically correct, like the post card that shows a man sleeping against a cactus with the words “NOT TODAY.” Or the one in Spanish that translated into English as “What the (insert a word that rhymes with duck)!”

“That’s what my grandmother used to say every time I was doing something wrong,” Andrew said.

Andrew has always like to make people laugh. He took the Ancestry.com DNA test and says it showed that he’s “the quintessential American mutt”: 32 percent native American, 36 percent Mexican/ Spanish, some other parts and 2 percent Jewish. His friends can only chuckle and roll their eyes.

“The marketplace will speak to us and let us know if we can make you smile, or not. If it doesn’t work, then it’s literally back to the drawing board. At least we tried and had some fun along the way.”

Megan Henderson, director of events and communication for Near Southside Inc., is pleased to see the shop opening.

“I am extremely excited about the opening of Space Cowboy FW on Magnolia Avenue,” she said. “Adding independent soft-goods retail to the Near Southside is a key priority for Near Southside Inc. and Space Cowboy FW offers an interesting and fun shopping experience to locals and visitors alike before dinner, after dessert, or during a weekend stroll down Magnolia Avenue.”

The iconic Cartan’s Shoes store at 1201 W. Magnolia Ave. has long been the primary non-food and beverage location along the street.

Panther City Vinyl, a new vintage-record store that will also offer new vinyl records, is planned in an 18,000-square-foot development at 1455 and 1465 Magnolia Ave. expected to open later this year.

And four micro-retail stores also are planned at 411 South Main in a historic warehouse at South Main and Broadway, in the center of the South Main Redevelopment Project. Construction is underway now on the renovation by 6th Ave Homes.

In a recent Facebook posting, Henderson noted that there was space for rent on Magnolia and asked whether someone was interested in opening a retail shop such as home goods, clothing, gifts or similar.

“The community needs some-thing to do between dinner, dessert and drinks,” she said.

That’s why she is so pleased with the Yanezes venture.

“For many years, we’ve heard from residents and visitors alike that the one missing ingredient to our special sauce is shopping options. I am confident that Space Cowboy takes us one step closer to the long-term vision for the area” Henderson said.

Andrew and Amy visit Austin and other parts of Texas, and note that what Henderson mentions is not unique to Fort Worth, but their original idea didn’t involve going into retail.

“People are all over Fort Davis and Marfa – which is a creative region – but there is nothing for them to shop for,” Amy said. “So we came back and started this discovery process of creating a line for West Texas.”

Then they got an offer to invest in the space that is now Space Cowboy and PytchBlack. They thought there was a need for retail on Magnolia and decided to do it for themselves, Amy said. And they think they can take their ideas to market and “mass produce our unique view of Texassy style to gift shops across the State.”

Andrew is used to living on the creative edge.

“What I did years ago was break the mold of what was being done creatively in advertising and design. Now I’m just doing this for ourselves,” he said.

“And I think that, that’s the greatest part,” said Amy. “It gives me just a little bounce in my step every day, because it’s really exciting. I’ve met a lot of the people in the 76104 neighborhood. I’m now directing it to where it needs to be instead of where I thought it was going to be.”

Andrew says Amy is the driving factor in all this stuff. She is a brilliant with numbers and people.

“So once again the pretty face here says, it’s true,” he said with a gesture to her, “behind every man, there’s a good woman or something like that, but yeah, she’s been here through thick and thin and once again she pokes and prods and at this point, it was like, ‘Yeah, I think we can do this … again! ”

They will have been married 21 years in December and have three boys, one 15, the other 11 and a nephew in college they help raise.

And they have a lesson they want to teach their children if they follow them into the trade.

“Own the property if you’re going to be in the creative services business,” Andrew said.

And be confident. One ad they are planning to run for the store says it all: “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of Texas.”

Paul Harral
Paul is a lifelong journalist with experience in wire service, newspaper, magazine, local and network television and digital media. He was vice president and editor of the editorial page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and editor of Fort Worth, Texas magazine before joining the Business Press. What he likes best is writing about people in detail and introducing them to others in the community. Specific areas of passion are homelessness, human trafficking, health care and aerospace.

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