Three small businesses recently launched their culinary brands in South Carolina and saw great success. Jennifer Freebee launched Verde, a fast & healthy salad shop in Charleston in 2011; Dominique Chantepie started French café Saveurs du Monde in Mount Pleasant in 2014 and Michael Easler opened premier olive oil retail shop Crescent Olive in Greenville, SC in 2011. With their flagship stores flourishing, the business owners looked to expand in the Charleston area, which hosts a thriving “foodie” culture.
Prime real estate in the Charleston area is popular and scarce. “Our biggest challenge was just finding an open space in our desired location,” said Michael Easler, co-founder of premium olive oils retailer The Crescent Olive. “We knew we wanted to expand near the King Street shopping district, but our options were limited because everyone else wants to open shop there, too.”
Jennifer Freebee iterated the difficulty of being a local company. “You can be competing with national brands,” she said. “National brands have portfolios that look very different from ours, thus making our numbers look less impressive.”
Dominique and Florence Chantepie knew they wanted to expand in the Charleston area, but they had just opened their flagship store in May 2014. “They had only been in business for eight months, which is a very early time to consider expanding,” said Leonard Way, Vice President of Asset and Property Management at The Beach Company.
The Beach Company, who had helped each of these businesses open previous locations, recognized the potential of each idea. “While these companies were young, we liked their business concepts and knew they would be popular in the Charleston area,” Leonard said.
“Since we already had built a rapport with Jennifer through her original property on King Street, we were very willing to help her open a second location in Mount Pleasant. She wouldn’t have seen the same success if she had approached another landlord to open her second location, given the short age of her company.”
The Beach Company also had a relationship with The Crescent Olive through their location in Mount Pleasant, so when the company had a space open just off King Street, they approached Michael. “Charleston’s a great foodie town that continues to grow, so having a presence downtown was important to us,” said Michael Easler. “We said yes and immediately began working on opening the new location.”
Dominique and Florence received the opportunity to open Café Framboise when The Beach Company approached them about a property downtown. “The Beach Company saw what we did in Mount Pleasant and wanted to bring it downtown, so they offered us a property just off of King Street. We had been wanting to open a store downtown for some time now, so we immediately say yes,” said Dominique.
Each company says their experience with The Beach Company has been great so far, and their latest openings are experiencing great success.
“Leonard and I have a really good relationship,” Jennifer said. “The Beach Company has been fair with us in negotiating our rents, as I know other local businesses have been priced out of this market. Verde’s downtown location is extremely successful, and we’re already opening our third location in West Ashley.”
Dominique also iterated his healthy relationship with The Beach Company. “They are very nice to us; whenever we need something, we talk to them and they try to make it work for both of us. Café Framboise’s concept is “catching on” in the downtown location, and “so far, so good.”
Michael said, “I actually had a better experience opening our location in downtown Charleston. We field a lot of great foot traffic here, and I see our presence growing.” When asked if he would work with The Beach Company again, Michael replied “sure.” However, the Crescent Olive currently has no immediate plans of expanding further. “Right now, we’re just trying to catch our breath.”