Gregory Gilmore and Carlos Cain always wanted to open a space where, as Gilmore puts it, "all men can come in, feel comfortable and walk out with something they fell in love with." Their brainchild - Toolbox Men's Supply Company, a men's underwear boutique - opened in November 2012, located in the crotch of Broad Ripple. "We are like a Victoria's Secret for men that don't want to wear underwear from Target or Walmart," Gilmore says.
Fully ripped mannequins stand outside the store on sunny days, modern versions of Michelangelo's "David" clad in designer underwear. "You'd think that no one has ever seen a male mannequin before the way they react to it," Gilmore says. "They come up and take pictures with it, so I'll run outside and harass them to come in and check out the store."
Once through the little white door at 853 E. 65th St., customers find underwear - including brands such as Timoteo, Andrew Christian, Ginch Gonch and NastyPig - hanging from bamboo hangers bolted to upright pallets. A glass table sits on two sawhorses displaying an array of colorful boxer briefs.
In an adjacent room, lockers display NastyPig underwear and shirts as soft indie music plays. The open layout gives Gilmore, who manages the shop day-to-day, the chance to greet everyone who walks in, sparking up friendly conversation and trying to make customers comfortable as they browse through assless briefs.
"We've been to so many local boutiques where it's empty and we don't even get a greeting," he says. "That's not that kind of business we want to run."
Gilmore runs the business on a daily business, while Cain uses his visual merchandising skills to best facilitate traffic through the store. The two attempt to sell items made in America, and seek to reduce the store's carbon footprint by using recycled materials, reusing bamboo hangers and wrapping purchases up in recycled paper.
Items sold in the store vary in sizes to fit all types, giving Indy natives a place to try on and feel the fabric before dishing out $30 or $40 from their wallets.
"Ultimately we want the store to be somewhere where everyone feels comfortable to shop at whether you're small, big, gay, straight or a woman trying to liven up her boyfriend's top drawer," Gilmore said.
The couple place ads in papers, but most business comes from word of mouth or by people stumbling upon it while strolling through Broad Ripple. The store is partnering with FortyFive Degrees for the restaurant/nightclub's annual underwear fashion show. The June 7 show will kick off the final weekend of Circle City IN Pride 2013.
FortyFive Degrees owner Bill Tritt says that the show has grown since it started in 2009.
"I always partner with underwear companies, and I got in touch with ToolBox through a friend of a friend," Tritt said. "It's a good way to kick off Pride weekend."
Gilmore and Cain are ready to see what warm weather will bring to Toolbox in its first year of business.
"Hopefully people come wandering in, and walk out with something they feel comfortable in," Gilmore said.