644 Long Point Road, Unit 1
Kate Walker never saw herself as a small business owner. She’d worked hard to earn her nursing degree and loved her job, but, when her best friend opened a Mainstream Boutique in Winston- Salem, North Carolina, Kate began to dream. Fast forward a few years, and Walker is now the owner of not one but two boutiques that sell casual women’s clothing. She opened her first Mainstream Boutique in 2013 in Florence, South Carolina, where she lives with her husband and son. Kate knew from the start that she wanted to open two or three stores and recently open a second location in Mount Pleasant’s Belle Hall Shopping Center with the help of her mother, Mary Lee Busick.
When Walker started researching locations, her mother said, “If you open a store in Charleston, I want to do it with you.” The two have a great working relationship and bring different strengths to the business. Busick worked for years in marketing and communications and loves promoting the store, while her daughter gets excited about buying, managing store operations and working with the staff.
Mainstream Boutique is a franchise, and there are currently 78 boutiques across the country, with a flagship store in Apple Valley, Minnesota. Walker said the pros of owning a franchise are many, but what she enjoys most is the freedom to customize her store to fit her customers’ needs.
“I choose all of the inventory and make the buying decisions. The company encourages owners to put a personal spin on their individual store,” Walker said.
Mainstream Boutique Mount Pleasant opened on Oct. 1, 2015, the same day as a massive flood. “Not even a hurricane could hold us back!” Walker laughed. “We were standing there in our rain boots, sending home our staff, but, thankfully, people still came out to shop.”
Busick rented a condo nearby and was able to manage the store while Walker commuted from Florence. (Busick will move from her Florida home to Daniel Island in June.) Now that the water has receded, mother and daughter are happy to report steady sales and a growing customer base. It took about a year of preparations to open the store; Walker and Busick worked hard to get the details just right.
“Mom made the dressing room curtains and was key in choosing the décor,” Walker pointed out.
Walker described the selection at Mainstream Boutique as trendy and unique. They also have accessories and a selection of shoes.
“When clients come to us, they find quality products, a unique selection and a good price. But what’s most important is their experience. We offer a personal touch – because when you run a small business, good customer relationships are really important. It’s what keeps you going.”
By: Amy Mercer