Area hardware, clothing retailers to close

Charleston Hardware in West Ashley closed New Year's Day after more than 50 years in business.

The start of a new year usually ushers in a shakeout in the retail industry.

In the Charleston area, a hardware store and two apparel shops either have shut their doors or soon will.

After more than 50 years in business, Charleston Hardware at 1028 Wappoo Road in West Ashley went dark New Year's Day. A sign on the door reads: "Due to illness within the family and unforeseen circumstances, Charleston Hardware will no longer be open for business." The note thanked customers for their patronage.

On Wednesday, California-based Wet Seal announced it will close 338 stores, including its last one in the Charleston area at Northwoods Mall. The Citadel Mall store closed a year ago.

The clothing, footwear and accessories retailer for teen girls and young women closed about two-thirds of its locations. About 3,700 full- and part-time workers are losing their jobs. The company closed the stores after looking at its overall financial condition and the inability to negotiate better deals from landlords.

Also, after nearly an 18-month run, Christopher Burch's New York-based C. Wonder women's apparel and accessories shop at 285 King St. in downtown Charleston is closing. The store could close as early as Friday or Saturday, but it depends on how fast the marked-down merchandise sells. The retail chain is closing all 12 of its remaining stores. It once had 32 locations.

The president and chief executive officer of Bi-Lo Holdings, parent company of Winn-Dixie, will step down in March. Randall Onstead will leave after seven years and seeing the Jacksonville-based grocer grow through acquisitions of 480 Winn-Dixies, 22 Piggly Wiggly stores and 165 Delhaize Group stores, including Sweetbay, Reid's and Harveys.

A successor has been chosen, but won't be named until later, according to the company. Bi-Lo was once based in Mauldin before merging with Winn-Dixie in 2012.

A proposed convenience store on Daniel Island and a new retail building on James Island are on the agenda for Charleston's Design Review Board at 5 p.m. Thursday at 75 Calhoun St.

The convenience store with a gas canopy and car wash is proposed for the juncture of Island Park Drive and Fairfield Street. The owner is Mark Jordan of Refuel Inc. The retail building on James Island is slated for 864 Folly Road. It's owned by FEW62 LLC and the applicant is Gramling Brothers Real Estate, which is developing property beside the Bi-Lo-anchored shopping center nearby.

The Johns Island Farmers Market will celebrate its two-year anniversary Saturday. It's the Charleston area's only year-round market, open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday at 3546 Maybank Highway. It now features about 40 local farmers, artisans and food vendors as well as live local musicians and a bounce house for kids.

Firefly Distillery and Irvin-House Vineyards will remain open during the month of January for the first time. It usually closes the first month of the year for maintenance, but it said demand dictated it stay open. Regular vineyard hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The distillery opens at 11 a.m. Firefly is at 6775 Bears Bluff Road on Wadmalaw Island.

Chicken Salad Chick, a fast-casual restaurant, will open its first Charleston-area location Jan. 14 at 214 Azalea Blvd., Suite G, in Summerville.

The Center for Women in Charleston recently received a $47,000 grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation's State Giving Program. The center serves more than 1,200 women in the Lowcountry and more across the state.

The money will be used to expand a pilot program started last summer to help women become economically independent, according to Amy Brennan, executive director. Also, Southern Season recently provided grants to help fight poverty and hunger to two Charleston area groups. Through its Share the Food Foundation, the North Carolina-based specialty retailer gave $10,000 altogether to East Cooper Meals on Wheels and St. Paul's Summerville.

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