Charleston retail is back, and in a big, interesting new way.
The return of leisure travel combined with two years of pandemic-fueled anticipation has created strong demand for in-person eating, drinking, and spending. This has helped contribute to Charleston’s below average retail vacancy rate (less vacancy = more vibrancy), and many retailers are now thriving. One concept that has taken hold on the Peninsula is the emergence of multi-use retail establishments, where separate businesses operate at the same location. This presents a variety of potential advantages for businesses and consumers alike.
For businesses: marketing/branding firepower, space synergies, and cost efficiency.
For consumers: an array of options, unique ambiance, and energetic gathering places.
With a limited amount of prime retail space available on the Charleston peninsula, and an increased difficulty in procuring 2am liquor licenses, many new food & beverage operators have created spaces like this. These partnerships are capitalizing on efficiency and consumer demand, and so far, are having a lot of success.
Below is my list of Charleston’s five best multi-concept retail properties:
From Uptown Hospitality Group (owners of the popular Uptown Social), comes the Sharehouse and Bodega duo. Bodega started as a pop-up at Uptown Social and quickly gained a cult following for their New York style breakfast sandwiches. Sharehouse is a new concept, and features a lighter, coastal-inspired menu with a focus on live music and cocktails late into the night. The décor and ambiance of the two restaurants is highly contrasted, but the combination covers all the bases and gives visitors a wealth options.
Instead of developing a second location for Babas, owner Edward Crouse partnered with Goat Sheep Cow to run their concept out of their café space that had closed during the pandemic. This collaboration has allowed for both businesses to focus on what they do best while operating in the same space and capitalizing on the synergy between the two concepts.
The beloved Music Farm was forced to close in 2020 during the pandemic, as indoor music venues were hit especially hard. Now, Music Farm is under new management and has partnered with The Royal American to overhaul food and drink operations. The marriage of these two businesses is extremely compatible, with Royal American’s delicious bar bites and commitment to live music a perfect pairing for the Music Farm.
And similar to Babas/Goat.Sheep.Cow, this collaboration has allowed both operators to specialize on what they do best while operating out of the same space, improving both their business and the customer experience.
This is Crust’s third Charleston-area location, and the inaugural Bailey’s Oyster Bar concept. Instead of simply adding oysters to Crust’s menu, owner Steve Watkins decided on introducing a whole new concept (Bailey’s). This is a much more marketable way to expand the brand and attract different (gluten-free!) customers to their Romney Street location. The building is brand new and located within the exploding NoMo area.
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