How have you seen shopping options change over the past few years in Columbia?
"I think we've seen a shift over the last couple of years. The area has been attracting not only popular chains, but also smaller boutiques, such as Monkee's on Devine Street and Copper Penny, which is so popular in the Charleston area, on Harden Street." Throw in shops such as Lululemon setting up temporary shops to test out Columbia, and "it just kind of brings a nice balance of options for everyone. We're moving in a positive direction, for sure." While the Midlands has more options now than it ever has, much of it is geared toward the younger demographic because of the abundance of college students. "We still need a bit more of a mature retail market, but we're head and shoulders above where we were five years ago."
What are you most excited about that is coming or recently came to Columbia?
"I think I'm most excited about JCrew." Now, Brady buys items online from the retailer, but that will change when it opens this fall in Forest Acres. "I'll be able to drive a mile down the road to Trenholm Plaza and try things on rather than ordering online and hoping you like it." The plaza also is getting an Anthropologie and regional retailer Scout & Molly's. A fab'rik store also recently opened there.
What are some hidden gems that we have here in terms of shops?
Devine Street is a longtime favorite for Brady, including shops such as Just the Thing, which recently expanded to include clothing, and women's clothier VanJean. "I think it's the personal touch that makes shopping in Columbia different." Just the Thing, for example, carries higher-end clothing and accessories, but promotes deals to customers on social media to keep it affordable. Plus, "the owner is in there herself every single day. That sets it apart, and makes the experience fun. They even begin to know the taste of their clients" and might let them know when something comes in that would appeal to them.