Anthropologies opening Friday drives Charlestons King Street to near full occupancy
Less than a year after teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch pulled out of downtown Charleston, mid- to upscale-priced women’s clothier and home furnishing store Anthropologie is set to open.
The new shop at 260 King St. will fling open its doors at 10 a.m. Friday, bringing retail flair back to a space with a long history of offering quality merchandise.
The smell of live Christmas trees behind a life-sized, stuffed mountain goat will greet customers as they enter the handsomely decorated new shop.
Touring the store Wednesday, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley was wowed.
“It’s another reaffirmation of the amazingly fabulous retail street King Street has become,” he said. “This firm is a cutting-edge retail operation in America and finds only the best places to locate. It will bring shoppers from the region and outside the region.”
Last year, U.S. News and World Report’s online Travel page named King Street one of the top 10 shopping streets in America, right up there with Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles and Fifth Avenue in New York.
Of the 304 retail spaces on King from Broad to Line streets, 94.1 percent are occupied, Riley said. Lower King storefronts are almost full, except for the vacancy left by Tellis Pharmacy’s closing this year and a small shop next door.
The former Biton at Wentworth and King also sits empty, but Tim Keane of the city’s planning department said there is interest in the site from retail and restaurant businesses.
The largest vacancy is the 17,000 square feet of idle space at the heavily traveled King and Calhoun Street intersection, but Keane said several retailers have expressed interest in that property.
A retail sports shop also is looking at Upper King and wants about 15,000 to 20,000 square feet, Keane said. In the past year or so, Upper King has become the commercial hot spot, with new hotels, restaurants and retail expanding northward to replace vacant lots and boarded-up buildings.
“What we are seeing is a rebirth of King Street,” Riley said.
He likened the city’s main shopping and dining thoroughfare to an ecosystem, one that first developed to serve the people who lived close by.
“Now what we are seeing from Broad to Line, the street is returning to that vitality,” he said.
Anthropologie’s opening in the heart of the city’s downtown shopping district should help. After signing a 10-year lease, the chain will occupy nearly 7,500 square feet on the ground floor of the four-story former Kerrisons Department Store building.
The building dates to 1920 and is owned by the Poulnot family. It sits between J Crew, the University of South Carolina’s new retail store and Victoria’s Secret.
The building was home to Kerrisons for decades, until Hurricane Hugo ripped off the roof in 1989, closing the store for good. Abercrombie & Fitch set up shop there in 1997, but it bowed out in January after 15 years.
Do you know of a business that is opening, closing or expanding? Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524.