Last August, we decided we were going to turn our focus from retail.
Our West Ashley store had been open almost a year and was doing well, and our City Market space was as busy as ever. We decided to turn our attention inward, focusing on our website, warehouse systems, and all the non glamourous internal stuff. Our broker, John Michael Brock of Lee + Associates, continued sending me some updated retail space listings. He helped us secure an affordable 6500sf warehouse / office space in West Ashley just a few months prior, and knew we were considering expanding our retail footprint. We had looked at a space or two on King Street, but nothing ever felt right.
Our team had just had the conversation about not moving forward with any more retail spaces when John Michael sent me the listing for an iconic building here in Charleston. It was the Hatman Building, or Plenge Building, in the South of Broad neighborhood at the corner of Broad and Church. This retail space had not been available in decades, and I knew we needed to look at it immediately. He met me the next day. It was an absolute disaster. The building had been recently purchased and the new landlord was renovating the building from top to bottom. We learned the third floor was to be a penthouse, the second-floor offices, and the bottom floor was divided into two retail spaces when it had previously been one. We could not even go inside. There was debris everywhere, and when we opened the door, chunks began falling around us, so we quickly closed it.
Even though it was a wreck inside, I knew we had to have the corner spot. It took about sixty days to negotiate which felt like a lifetime for my impatient self. On November 13 we had a fully executed lease. Yikes! It was ours. It was the combination of excitement and fear, but no time for that, we needed to get busy planning.
Stores can be expensive to open and making decisions about what to buy and how it should look can be fun but daunting. I am not a designer, nor do we work with one. That sort of thing has never been in our budget. We asked our new landlord for a ship lapped wall, a closet / office space, and some cabinets, which he agreed to and the rest was up to us.
We already knew exactly what had to happen to get the store ready since we had just opened one the previous year. We decided to use Park Hill as a resource for the main furniture, and a few pieces from our other store that we did not need. Once construction was finished in February we moved in and opened about a week later after our fire marshal inspection from the city. It was Friday March 1st.
The store turned out beautiful. The windows are tall and bright, and the exposed brick is so pretty. We have met many neighbors and the traffic has been better than expected for March.
We have all our products available. You will find racks of fresh soaps, loads of bath bombs, body butter, salt scrubs, and perfume oils, along with colorful and sea-inspired gifts from some of our favorite makers, many of whom are local.
We invite you to stop in, say hello, and look around. We are here to help and look forward to the opportunity to serve you in person!