Holiday shopping is huge for small, local businesses
“The Christmas shopping stretch is huge for us,” said Linda Welton. She is the owner of West Columbia’s popular The Eclectic House on Sunset Boulevard.
The business has been operating for 16 years.
“The Christmas season is what gets us through the year,” she said.
While West Columbia is not a haven for big box giants, it has gained a reputation for catering to shoppers in search of specialized items.
“We have so many unique gifts that you may not find at other stores,” said Welton. “We have jewelry, candles, scarves, sweaters, ornaments. anything that would be a good gift, we have. And unique and unusual is what we have.”
Welton also said Eclectic House carries name brand items, including Vera Bradley, Tyler Candles and other well-known boutique pieces. Crafting classes are also tight at The Eclectic House.
Welton said one of the things that is popular is a three-piece dish, pan, and caddy soap combination kit.
Having been in business over the years, Welton said people know about the Eclectic House because of word-of-mouth referrals. She said customers also tell her they don’t want to spread the word because they want to keep The Eclectic House all to themselves.
She also said the store has also been the victim of an identity crisis, of sorts, in years past.
“People would not see “eclectic” house, they would see “electric,” Welton said. But over the years the name has become more solidified in the mind of the clientele.
While The Eclectic House has years of operation behind it, The Crafty Cottage is a relatively new business. It opened at 831 Meeting St., West Columbia in August. And it’s start has been well-received.
“We get a lot of business,” said Tina Floyd. She manages The Crafty Cottage. The retail business is housed in an ornate 1911 structure. It displays the work of 14 different artisans, all local.
To say the inventory at The Crafty Cottage is unique, would be an understatement. It has Ms Judy’s hand-crafted figurines, three generations of the same family that produce egg-blown art, paintings and Clemson and Carolina collectibles.
Floyd said she has made an effort to promote her West Columbia business. She has appeared on WOLO-TV 25 in Columbia with Tyler Ryan (who is also on 94.3 The Dude.) On the televised segment, Floyd said she wanted a to create a “retail venue for artisans” with classrooms and space for parties. That is what she has done. Instructional sessions on painting, craft-making and other skills are regularly held at The Craft Cottage.
“We are a place where you can come to learn crafts,” Floyd said.
She also said so much of The Crafty Cottage’s inventory is diverse. The store carries LipSense lipstick that lasts 14-hours without re-applying . Other items include handmade soaps and angles made from recycled material.
The idea to present the items of vendors has been popular. Floyd said she has a waiting list of applicants who want space in The Crafty Cottage. She also said while her artists are local, she is attracting regional attention.
“I want to draw a clientele to this side of the Gervais Street Bridge,” she said.
A well-known, and established, West Columbia business that definitely sees a spike in sales as Christmas approaches is the Old Mill Antique Mall on State Street.
It’s described as being: “Nestled just across the river from downtown Columbia, the Old Mill Antique Mall is located in the historic River District. This lovely antique mall sells a wide range of antiques, collectibles, and furniture by over 80 dealers; all under one roof.”
The Old Mill Antique Mall, owned by Margaret Causey, recently celebrated its 30th anniversary by expanding its sales floor.
“We’re quite busy this time of the year,” said Paul Tyler, an Old Mill Antique Mall associate.
“This is one of the best places for holiday shopping.”
Tyler said the antique mall conducts sales specifically to bring in holiday buyers. He also said milk glass is a popular item this time of the year. Ceramic Christmas tree are popular items sold by the mall, too.
All year, and especially during the holidays, West Columbia offers a unique shopping experience. Not only will you find one-of-a-kind items, the visit to these shops promises to be a warm, friendly and possibly sentimental journey.