Coco & Lola’s Midtown Lingerie Memphis changed its name before it sold its first garter belt.
“Before we ever opened the shop up, we were going to be called ‘The Naughty Diva,’” says general manager Kayla Parker. “But there was a store down the street — Inz & Outz, an adult novelty store. We didn’t want to be taken for something other than what we are. At that time they were on Cooper.”
The lingerie shop’s address was 712 South Cox. “Which should say enough,” she says.
Coco & Lola’s, which specializes in lingerie “for every size in every kind of style,” will celebrate its fifth anniversary in August. The Midtown shop is a consistent winner in the Memphis Flyer’s Best of Memphis contest.
The lingerie sales people came up with a list of 12 names for the store, which her mother, Glenna Rohrbacher, founded, Parker says. “My mom and I were still doing the ordering for the store, the merchandise, and we had not opened up. There was already a big picture of a woman in a bustier on the side of the building, but no name.”
Parker and her mother were divided on what type of merchandise to sell. “I wanted the risqué, filthy, spicy, edgy, crotchless date night fun stuff. And my mom, who was 60 at the time, she’s more of a classic boudoir-inspired vintage pin-up Coco-style thing. So, there’s two different demographics here.”
To help them decide, a note was sent to her fellow siblings, Parker says. “Pick a fucking name for the store.”
Everyone agreed it should be named “Coco & Lola’s.”
Before she moved back to Memphis, Parker lived in California, where she did production work for 15 years. “I spent time in front of a camera and behind a camera.”
She thought the lingerie shop was a great idea. “Nobody in Memphis was doing this when I came home.”
Other stores were doing “fitted bras and classic babydolls and classic pajamas. But that’s not what we’re doing. We had no competition.”
“We sell two-piece bra and panty sets,” says assistant manager Zoe Elliotte. “We have two- and three-piece garters. Chemises. Babydolls. Bustiers. And corsets. Honestly, a little bit of everything. Teddies. One pieces. Teddies tend to be crotchless.”
“We try to have a price point for everything,” Parker says.”A three-piece garter set — panty and garter and bra together — for $30. And it can be sitting next to an Italian lace three-piece garter set for $300. We try to make sure we have something for everyone — style, price, size.”
They carry Kilo Brava, Cosabella, KissKill, and about 25 other lines.
“We get everyone handled in any lingerie area they need to be handled in,” Elliotte says. “It’s a complete safe space. Everyone can be themselves.”
“We’re very well-versed and trained to welcome any shape, size, or sexual orientation, any race,” Parker says. “We are well-versed in making that person feel amazing.”
And, she says, “We are here for the curvy girls. We cater to women small up to 3X and 4X. When I tell you Tennessee is a plus-sized state, we take care of these queen-sized divas. They go home and tell their friends about it. I don’t want to toot any horns, but we won the Yelp our first year we were opened for top lingerie shop. We have won Best of Memphis every year from Memphis Flyer.”
Coco & Lola’s caters to their customers “from hand to foot. I’m usually in the dressing room with women 50 to 75 percent of the time.”
And, she says, “It’s really good to get these women together and send them right on home to do what they do.”
Men shop at Coco & Lola’s, she says. “The men love it. They send the men with the credit card. They never question it twice, honey. We have seats for the gentlemen. Men never argue about it over the cash register. They want it all.”
Parker can spot the various types of men shoppers. “The first one will buy anything in the store ’cause he wants to spoil his wife. So long as we know the sizes, we send them on home with the best fitted garment in the world for the occasion he specifies.”
The second type will “pay with cash.” He’ll order lingerie in “three different sizes. And we have to bag them three different ways. And they always spend good coin, too.”
“The third one, they’ll have the girlfriend and the wife and just the whole thing. The things that we’ve seen here. The transactions and the way it’s split down in the payment process is amazing.”
Then there are “the polygamous ones” — the men who come in with all their wives, Parker says. “He’s got four to five wives. They all need something. That’s four different outfits. And they can’t argue with each other.”
They arrive “in a big van. Like an Amazon Prime truck.”
Coco & Lola’s also has the “stage door Johnnies,” who are buying for their girls, Parker says. And, she says, “All the girls know about each other and they all come in and shop for each other. The ‘working girls.’”
Other customers include “the cheating housewives,” Parker says. “They always pay with cash. They’ll pay with cash for the boyfriend, and charge something for the husband.”
They love their “swinger couples,” she says. “That means there are more sales for us, and it’s also an amazing show to watch.”
“They’re so completely free with their identities and sexuality with each other,” Elliotte says. “We help them fill out their fantasy.”
The brides and bridesmaids also are “a big demographic,” Parker says.
They’ve closed the shop for women who want to shop in a group. Like sports team wives.
And, she says, they’ve held private events “if someone is prepared to bring in their girls and close it down for the night.”
They “come in to shop,” she says. It’s always “a fun time.”
And, she says, “We get to see all the body work.”
Customers may not walk out the door with what they thought they were going to buy when they walked in, Parker says. “Everybody is open for a change and something different. We’ve been doing this a long time. I can look at somebody who rolls in. She’ll come in for cotton panties and she’s going to walk out with something edgy, scrappy, and crotchless and leather. I like to put these women in something they thought they’d never do. It’s like playing with Barbie dolls in real life.”
And, she says, “Sometimes they’ll leave wearing it. They’ll leave it on.”
Elliotte wears their merchandise in public. “I’ll leave wearing something from the shop,” she says. “I’m like a drag queen when I go out.”
People will ask her, “Where did you get that corset? That one piece you have on?”
“I can find a way to be able to wear any single thing out. I do it to look fun, sexy when I’m bar hopping with my friends. I’ll take a bustier and pair it with suit pants and a blazer and go to a meeting-type thing.”
Asked if they’d ever consider a second Memphis location, Parker says, “We’re killing the game in Memphis. We don’t need to compete with ourselves.”
An out-of-town location is in the works, she says. “On a remote beach location. And we’re going to add swimwear. Details to come.”
Some people still come in thinking Coco & Lola’s is a porn shop, but they don’t carry “adult toys,” Parker says. “We can’t have people shopping around for lingerie with dicks on the wall.”
She directs them to Inz & Outz. “I send them right down the street to the boys.”
Coco & Lola’s Midtown Lingerie Memphis is at 710 South Cox Street; (901) 425-5912