A Unique Marketplace! written by SHERIL BENNETT TURNER photographed by ANGELA RUTLAND & SHERIL BENNETT TURNER
thought about the retail marketplace concept about two years ago,” says Bernard Price, owner of Smith & James and Chelsea’s Ladies Apparel in downtown Greer. “I’ve been down to Dillard, Georgia and some other places that have a concept very similar to this where there are multiple vendors in one space, and they all said it was the best thing they ever did. So I came back and threw the idea out to my family. They didn’t think a whole lot of it back then,” he laughs. With the opening last month of The Grapevine
at 214 Trade Street in the old Cooper Furniture building though, the family, Bernard says, has finally come around. “We bought this building back when Greer was really booming with the hopes of selling it or renting it out. Finally, I came here with Wanda (Garcia) and said let me tell you what I want to do.” “Bernard explained that he wanted to do something along the lines of an antique mall, but with vendors who had all kinds of different things, Wanda explains. “ I had already done something like that in Kings Mountain, so we decided that we needed to work together.” At The Grapevine, vendors rent out spaces, bring in their items, and have full reign to tag their items and put up banners with their shop name. “It’s a place where someone can come in with a cottage business, or even have an extension of an existing business,” Wanda says. “I like to think of it as an incubator, a small business can get in here and test GreerNow APRIL 2009
the waters.” “I decided to try it, and try it in a bad economic time, because I still believe in downtown Greer,” Bernard says. “I’ve been here 46 years. You have to do things to keep people coming in, and I think this will bring in a lot of people.” “People are just thrilled with it so far,” Wanda says. “One customer came in—she lives in the area and walks—and was excited about being able to find a gift without going to the mall. I think it will really be a good asset to the downtown area. We even plan to be open when they have the events downtown so that people can wander in and out.” “I want Greer to continue to grow,” Bernard says. “We are so blessed to have the new Greer City Hall and, especially, the City Park. It’s just absolutely gorgeous. Greenville has nothing on Greer now in my opinion.”
Meet the Vendors: Cottage Eclectic - Wanda Garcia, Owner “I love recycling things. A lot of vintage stuff ends up in the garbage, things that people don’t think they have any use for anymore. I love creating the “salvage style” by mixing and mingling antiques and other things. Like the potato masher/recipe holder. People say ‘my kids don’t even know what a potato masher is!’ The most common thing people say is ‘I didn’t even think you could make that into this.’” Wanda also carries antique furniture, vintage clothing, hats, and gloves, as well as handmade crocheted items, pottery, and a large collection of purple bottles.
Two Monkeys - Jennifer Minnich, Owner “I started Two Monkeys 2½ years ago. I was working full time in sales, and had two young kids. My degree is in apparel design, so I began making these cute little bibs. A couple of my friends said ‘Oh, I want one!’ so I started selling them. Then it slowly grew and I started selling to a couple of stores. This past summer I left my sales job to continue Two Monkeys (named after her two kids) full-time. I have a website (www. twomonkeys.info) where I sell my items and I also sell to a few retailers and do shows, but this is my first retail space.
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As a children’s company, I feel strongly about helping children in need, so I donate a percentage of my profits to a special needs child.” Jennifer says her best selling item is her patterned and monogrammed Sippy cups but she also carries unique bibs, burp clothes, wipe cases, and nightlights, made from the most fabulous fabrics. You can even customize an order to match outfits, room themes, and nursery bedding.
Mx2 Designs - Karen Mitchell & Jan Munafo, Owners “Our children were all out of the house, so we decided that we wanted to do something. Our husbands, the accountants, came up with our name, Mx2 for Mitchell and Munafo. As long as we don’t lose any money, they’re happy. Our business includes mostly gift items and home accessories. We both love to shop but we don’t buy anything we don’t really love. In fact, sometimes we buy three of things we really love—two for ourselves, and one for the store. We’ve always done the Greenville Symphony Guild’s Gift Shop, this year we did the whole gift shop ourselves. We also do Junior League shows and home shows. When we heard about the retail marketplace, we were excited. This is the first time we’ve had a permanent setup.”
Art by Donna Traynham Many of you are already familiar with the beautiful artwork
of Donna Traynham. Featured in a past issue of GreerNow Magazine, and previously on display at Café Mundo, Donna is a very talented local artist who works in a variety of mediums. As the resident artist at The Grapevine, Donna will have on hand, works in oil, acrylics, pastel, and pencil, as well as prints and note cards. Donna also takes commissioned work, including portraits. “It’s exciting to get a place of my own to display and sell my work. I also plan to spend some time in here actually painting in case people want to come in and watch. I think the retail market concept is a good one and it should bring more people to Greer. I’m looking forward to that happening.”
The Beaded Dragon - Bill Bramblett & John Dragoun, Designers & Owners Another featured business in GreerNow Magazine, The Beaded Dragon carries unique jewelry designed and handmade by Bill Bramblett and John Dragoun, two friends who both have a passion for rocks and cut stones. “We heard about the retail market from Ronnie (Mark) at Café Mundo. Wanda was just so enthusiastic about the shop and what it was going to be; her enthusiasm rubbed off on us. We are excited to have a permanent space here because we love Greer! It’s such a small town, but so diverse. You have the restaurants, the shops, the events going on. The Grapevine will be a place that people will love to come to, especially during downtown events like Oktoberfest, the Greer Family Fest, and the Wing Fling. The vendors in here have something for everybody; there’s everything from baby things to garden items—then you have the bling.”
Cambi’s Store - Robert & Lucia Young, Owners Some of you might already be familiar with Cambi’s Store, once located in Chelsea’s mall area. Now they’re
back in Greer selling wonderful items for the kitchen and more. “When Bernard and Wanda told us about this place and asked us to be involved in it, we said yes. I think the marketplace is a good idea. I’ve seen it in other cities and they do well. The bulk of the items we offer are kitchen items, from make-life–easy gadgets that you use in the kitchen to upscale cutlery and cookware. We’ve also expanded into gift items such as dog figurines.”
The Silver Chair - Joffre Swait, Owner Although The Silver Chair bookstore recently closed their Poinsett location to concentrate on their online business, they wanted to maintain a physical presence in Greer. Selling gently used books with a lot of interesting titles, out of print books, and hard to find books, The Silver Chair offers a fascinating shopping experience for book lovers of all ages. They also have a great collection of new games and some beautiful photography by Joffre.
Poinsett West Gardenalia - Roger Pryor, Owner Just down the street at 1013 W. Poinsett, Roger Pryor owns a fabulous house with extraordinary gardens, which he rents out for wonderful catered events. He also has a garden accessory shop in the back where he sells vintage and reproduction gardenalia. Yes, that’s right. Gardenalia, a word coined by a friend to indicate “garden accessories.” Roger decided to expand his business into the retail marketplace when he heard of its opening. “I know the Prices, and when they were putting The Grapevine together, they called me. I’ve wanted to be in downtown Greer forever, I was thinking of even buying my own place, a whole building, but I just don’t have the time.” Poinsett West Gardenalia sells birdbaths, birdhouses, statues, fountains, and other garden and gift ideas. GreerNow APRIL 2009
Photography by Angela Rutland Those familiar with downtown Greer are probably also familiar with Angela Rutland, Commercial Development Director for the Greer Development Corporation. What many people may not know, though, is that Angela is a superb photographer with a keen eye for the beauty in everyday things. “I have always loved photography; it’s one of my favorite hobbies. I take pictures of everything, from scenes and abandoned cars to children and wedding parties. I have several of my photographs available at The Grapevine, mostly themed around railroads and places. I also have a few home decor items available. I think this concept is wonderful! Hopefully it will help some business owners build up their clientele so that one day they may expand to a store all their own. I think The Grapevine is also a great fit for Greer and will help drive foot traffic to all of our wonderful downtown businesses.”
Butterflies & Bullfrogs - Pamela Brock, Owner When asked how Butterflies & Bullfrogs started, Pam says mysteriously, “It’s a long story, but definitely Divine. Only God gets the Glory.” With her youngest daughter Andrea, Pamela runs another location in Greenville at Forest Park, as well as this newest venture. Their stores feature high quality, simply adorable children’s clothing from newborn to size 6, toys, and many gift ideas. “I think The Grapevine is fabulous and I pray it will do great, because of the name and the unique concept. Wanda Garcia is so loving and conscientious; it can’t be anything but the best!”
Bernard’s Collectible Cars - Bernard Price, Owner
“I’ve always loved old cars. I used to restore them. I really got into Mustangs and ’59 and ’60 Chevrolets. These little cars
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bring back a lot of memories. I’ve collected a lot of them over the years; I really didn’t even know what I had until I got them all out and started displaying them. I also bought a lot of these from a guy who had been collecting them for over 35 years. He was a big Nascar fan, so there are a lot of things that are valuable. We have a lot of things they don’t make anymore. They’ve broke the molds. Some of the cars are just so detailed; it’s unreal how the people who make these models get them to look so much like the real ones. I think the car collectibles will be a man’s thing. While the lady is shopping in the store, this gives the man something to do.”
The Polkadot Monogram - Missi May, Owner The Polkadot Monogram offers super cute items such as hand-made children’s clothing, shoes, and gifts for all. Plus they can monogram practically anything! Some of their most popular items are handbags (they do the stickfamily bags), clipboards, initial rings and badge holders.
T&S Collectibles & Gifts - Tony & Susan Cantrell, Owners T&S Collectibles & Gifts feature little collectible items, purses, fashion jewelry, handbags, and little odds and ends that make great gifts.
The Southern Stamper - Carla Brasher, Owner The Southern Stamper offers scrapbooking and stamping supplies, with an emphasis on little ready-made kits for children and adults. A great place to find accessories that you can’t always find at craft shops.
Enchantment - Penny Marullo, Owner & Photography by Russell McDaniel
Penny Marulla runs Enchantment and offers, well, absolutely enchanting bedding, linens, and home décor items. Russ McDaniel is a very talented landscape and artistic photographer, whose travels inspire his wonderful works.
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“Social Media in Business” Trey Pennington Keynote Speaker
Tues, April 21st 11:30AM - 1PM
The Cottages at Brushy Creek 830 S. Buncombe Rd, Greer Bring your lunch. Register online at GreerChamber.com Greer Chamber members $5. We welcome non-members ($10 fee).
Trey is an educator, public speaker, social media practitioner, and seasoned business growth advisor. He organized the Greenville chapter of the Social Media Club, and is actively helping the club experience rapid growth. Trey will speak about the opportunities that social media offers businesses, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others. Come find out how to connect and promote your business through social media networking. “Sales Strategies for Success” is the best practices program of the Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce. The program provides an arena for business owners and those in business development to share sales best practices. SSS is sponsored by GreerNow Magazine.
For more information, please contact SSS Chair, Brian Thomas with Aegis Financial Group, Inc at email@example.com or the Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce at (864) 877-3131. Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce 111 Trade Street, Greer, SC
GreerNow APRIL 2009