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    This originally appeared in the 2019 Best of Louisville issue of Louisville Magazine.

    Elizabeth Pryor loves the South End. When several colleges offered the 2014 Iroquois High School graduate basketball scholarships, she passed on them all because they would’ve required her to leave the ’hood. Instead, she commuted to the University of Kentucky, where she’d won an academic scholarship. “Nobody really leaves south Louisville,” she says. “A lot of people look at that as a bad thing. But I like to think of it as: We just like where we’re at.” Her allegiance is so strong that, one day in April, the 23-year-old dreamed up an identity for the community to rally around: SOLOU, as in, south Louisville.

    Pryor, who is preparing to enter an MBA program at Indiana University Southeast, has a shock of brown hair rising above her brow like a breaking wave, sort of like k.d. lang circa 1989. She ordered 20 T-shirts that first day and gave eight to friends, then watched with surprise as the idea took off. Within 24 hours, she’d sold the rest of the $20 shirts. She ordered 40 more. “And before I even placed that order, I had to make a second one for 50,” she says. “I’m trying not to get overwhelmed with the fact that I still have 300 shirts sitting in my bedroom.” She gave the initial profit to Iroquois High School to help a half-dozen graduating seniors cover the $50 fee for caps and gowns. After more sales, money went to the Taylor Boulevard Neighborhood Association to help it fight a developer planning to locate fast food restaurants in the neighborhood.

    She sells quite a few near Churchill Downs at the iconic Wagner’s Pharmacy, where she’s a cook. (Her mother, Pam, is the head cook.) Andy Beshear, who won the gubernatorial Democratic primary, bought a shirt on election night in May. “There is something to be prideful about in south Louisville,” Pryor says. But she acknowledges that not everybody can thrive there. “You really have to have that mental toughness to survive,” she says.

    Six things Pryor wants you to know about SOLOU​: 

    1) The Southside neighborhood, between Third Street and Strawberry Lane, is the city’s most diverse.

    2) Angilo’s Pizza is 55 years old, Uncle Miltie’s Pawn Shop is nearly 70, Wagner’s Pharmacy is 98 and Suburban Fish Fry hit the century mark in April.

    3) The three bright-red basketball courts (with glass backboards!) at Wyandotte Park were designed by Nike and Grammy-nominated R&B/hip-hop star Bryson Tiller, who grew up in the South End.

    4) Sister Bean’s for a cup of joe, Tickled Pink for thrifting and antiquing.

    5) Ethnic food — Vietnamese, Caribbean, African, a halal grocery — on Woodlawn Avenue.

    6) Everybody in the South End is a capitalist during Derby Week, making money on parking spaces, beverages, rain ponchos, cookies — you name it.

    This originally appeared in the 2019 Best of Louisville issue of Louisville Magazine. Read more.

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    Cover photo: SOLOU // Facebook

    Jenni Laidman's picture

    About Jenni Laidman

    I'm a freelance writer who specializes in science and medicine but is passionate about art. I'm a hell of a cook. I think of white wine as training wheels for people who will graduate to red. I love U of L women's basketball. The best bargain in town is the $3 admission to U of L volleyball. Really exciting stuff.

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