Oakleaf and Acorn is a charming, rough-hewn men’s store located in Braselton, Georgia, approximately 40 miles northeast of Atlanta. At this southern outpost, the “Made in America” theme reigns supreme, and a passion for American heritage and craftsmanship permeates everything in sight — from the store’s pastiche of desirable offerings to its rich, worn-in ambience. The product assortment is wide and varied, consisting of fine leather goods, handmade apothecary products, skillfully handcrafted knives, American-made denim brands, and a worthy selection of vintage finds. They even carry homemade fruit jams and beef jerky for road-weary shoppers in need of immediate edible sustenance.
Oakleaf and Acorn is the labor of love of John Rich, a true devotee of all things good and American. He was gracious enough to field a few of our questions about the genesis and growth of his remarkable creation.
When did you decide to open Oakleaf and Acorn, and when was the shop opened?
I had a heart attack at the age of 39. At that time my kids were four, two and one. It got me thinking about what my children had to remember me by when I was gone. Which items would allow them a connection to who I was? What memories would these items hold? It led me, in 2009, to seek out quality American made goods that would meet these criteria.
How did you go about curating such an eclectic merchandise mix in your store?
I stock the store with items that I like and use. I love finding local artisans to round out the selection. The game calls and knives are a perfect example. These are good people spending their retirement and spare time doing what they love. They would be making these items regardless of whether they sell a ton or not. They’re happy sharing these items with friends and family.
Vintage enthusiasts have many methods of “hunting and gathering.” Where do you like to hunt?
I frequent small town auctions, estate sales, and yard sales. Internet auctions help to fill any down time. My son is now eight and enjoys “the hunt”. Being able to involve my children in any way is rewarding.
You also carry a really broad spectrum of brands – Raleigh, Railcar, Billy Kirk, Farm Tactics – how do you identify the brands you carry in the shop?
I started with a few favorites and have developed good relationships with my vendors. They are good about recommending products they know will be a good fit for the shop. Instagram has been a great source for meeting like-minded individuals. There are so many people making and doing, and it really gives me hope that we can get past our nation’s “superstore” mentality.
Let’s talk about the interior decor of your store. What is the overall feel you were aiming for?
I just thought of a gentleman’s study, which to me means surrounding yourself with objects that add to your everyday experience. Memories, loves, literature, libations, pipe smoke and reminders of why we work so hard.
How would you describe the Oakleaf and Acorn Man?
He values family and friends, and chooses timeless over trendy. He invests in quality and takes good care of his possessions. He leads by example. He is a jack of all trades, but master of none. He is open to learning and never stops. He is kind and considerate, but can end a disagreement with one punch. He is exhausted at the end of each day and never settles.
What can we expect from Oakleaf and Acorn in the future?
I love packing up and taking the store on the road. I enjoy consigning products and letting craftsmen use the site to help get the word out. There is so much out there better than what we are being offered. There is an American spirit out there that is genuine and pure. If I can tap into it and expose the possibilities it represents, then I’ve done some good.