In another sign of the improving local economy and just in time for the holiday shopping season, one of the largest vacant retail spaces in the Charleston area is about to bring a huge new retailer to the local market.

Houston-based Garden Ridge home decor store plans to open Nov. 22 at 6185 Rivers Ave. in North Charleston in a 104,000-square-foot spot in Aviation Square shopping center next door to Virginia College. It's near the heavily traveled juncture of Rivers and Aviation avenues. The 53-store chain offers a broad assortment of furniture, framed art, home textiles, decorative accessories, holiday decorations and garden decor.

The chain is privately held by AEA Investors of New York. It started as Garden Ridge Pottery in 1979. Its closest stores are in Greenville and Pineville, N.C. The space held Sam's Club before it moved next to Tanger Outlet Center. The store is taking applications at www.gardenridge.com.

At the table

Burwell's Stone Fire Grill is now open at 14 N. Market St. in downtown Charleston.

The site held Gilligan's before the mid-priced steak restaurant sought it out for its downtown expansion plan. Gilligan's closed earlier this year but maintains other restaurants throughout the Lowcountry.

Burwell's opens at 4 p.m. for happy hour, with dinner at 5 p.m. daily.

Cantina concept

Jack's Cosmic Dogs at 817 St. Andrews Blvd. in West Ashley has closed as it transforms into Mex 1 Baja Cantina. The new concept of Southern California and Baja Mexico cuisine will feature locally sourced products for its tacos, enchiladas, rice bowls and salads, as well as a full-service bar.

The name Mex 1 comes from a highway on the Baja Peninsula that runs from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas. The restaurant plans to open in mid-December.

Toy time

You know it's the holiday season when Wonder Works toy store chain unshelves its elves.

The locally owned retailer brings back its “Elfstravaganza” for a second year 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at its Belle Hall Shopping Center site at 624-D Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant.

The event will include the season's top toys, holiday-themed activities, treats, and appearances from Elfie and other characters.

The event is part of the national “Neighborhood Toy Store Day.” Donations will benefit Hugs for Harper, Keys for Hope, Blessings for Becky and Samaritan's Purse. Seven national toy companies will showcase their newest toys of the season, and every child who attends will get a free toy.

Thanks for your service

For the fifth consecutive year, Glasspro will provide free car washes Monday to honor veterans and current military personnel at its two car wash operations in the Charleston area to commemorate Veterans Day, which is Sunday.

The offer is good at Glasspro Pit Stop on U.S. Highway 17 across from Mount Pleasant Towne Centre and Glasspro Car Wash at 608 St. James Ave. in Goose Creek. Just tell them you are retired or active-duty military.

Do you know of a business that is opening, closing or expanding? Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.