Five years ago, Grant Lorick and his business partner David Withers never would have dreamed of moving their flower shop to Columbia’s Main Street.
There was little commerce on the street which at the time was dominated by a 9-to-5 work crowd. But a recent makeover has attracted residents and shops.
Today, the owners of Something Special Florist have been open about three weeks and are preparing for next week’s grand opening celebration of their new, ornately decorated space on Main Street between Hampton and Taylor streets. A massive spring centerpiece fills the room surrounded by a variety of other colorful arrangements – all visible from two ground-level windows along the street.
“Since we opened, the foot traffic has just been nonstop,” Lorick said. “It’s really amazed us. I didn’t know what to expect.”
More changes are coming to Main Street:
• Oak Table will open at 1221 Main St. in the new Main and Gervais tower in late summer. Owned by Charleston’s Indigo Road restaurant group, the Oak Table will serve modern American cuisine from steak to seafood cooked up by Joseph Jacobson, current chef de cuisine at Charleston’s Oak Steakhouse, who will relocate to Columbia.
• Next door to Something Special, owners recently finished sprucing up the exterior of the building with new windows and awnings and are getting close to signing a lease with a new tenant, said Frank Cason, a commercial real estate agent with Colliers International, who is working on the deal. Cason would not confirm or deny chatter among merchants that Urban Outfitters is considering the spot. He said he has had interest from a variety of retailers, restaurants and office tenants.
“One piece at a time, it gets better and better and better,” said developer Tom Prioreschi, who has built most of the condos and apartments on Main Street.
When Mast General Store on Main Street opened last year, it was a “game changer” for the street, Prioreschi said. He predicted that in two years, the street will look dramatically different and in five years, “you won’t even recognize it.”
Lorick said he feels lucky to have gotten in on the beginning of the revitalization.
Something Special has been open for three decades in the Irmo area. For 14 years, Lorick and Withers have run the shop on St. Andrews Road, catering weddings and other events, as well as delivering floral arrangements to hospitals and homes.
They had been looking for a couple of years for a building to buy that would give them more space than the 1,400 square feet with no storage that they were working in.
One Saturday last year, the two were driving down Main Street after setting up arrangements at a wedding at the Marriott when they saw a for sale sign on the building near the corner of Main and Taylor streets.
Lorick was skeptical at first. The 106-year-old building was an empty shell and the ceiling was falling in.
But the first floor and basement combined would give them 3,500 square feet, including storage – a luxury Lorick never had. So they got an architect involved to talk about what it could become.
“Your eyes start opening up to the possibilities,” he said.
The pair gutted the building and completely renovated it save for an exposed brick wall. They have a display room that features a walk-in cooler for those who need a quick arrangement on the go, a consultation room for party planners, a basement full of storage and a work room as big as their entire store was in Irmo.
In addition to the foot traffic, Lorick said the store has been a success in other unexpected ways. It has given them a central location, which has opened up delivery routes in Northeast Richland and meant quicker trips to deliver to hospital rooms and set up for downtown events. And the location – in the midst of Columbia’s bustling business district – has set them up to take advantage of an emerging post-recession comeback in corporate party planning.
Prioreschi, who sold the building to the florists, said it brings, well, something special to the corridor.
“This is going to be a great addition for Main Street,” he said.