2015-09-11 / Business

Consignment shop marks first step in West Columbia’s project “Brookland”

Story and photos by Bill Hughes

Karen Hoover stands on the deck of her new consignment store on Meeting Street. She spent Labor Day preparing for the opening of NewFangled Consignments. Karen Hoover stands on the deck of her new consignment store on Meeting Street. She spent Labor Day preparing for the opening of NewFangled Consignments. Karen Hoover remembers her epiphany struck on the way to the grocery store.

It was a bit more than two years ago when, turning a corner, she glanced over her shoulder at a familiar, long vacant brick store, with missing shingles and vines snaking up one side.

“ That’s when God said, ‘I’ve got a building for you,’ ” she said with a wave at the pre-opening clutter inside her latest project, Newfangled Consignments at 351 Meeting Street, the newest store in West Columbia’s rapidly growing riverfront.

After 33 successful years in advertising, marketing, and public relations, Hoover says she’s right at home as she realizes a decades- long yearning to become a consigner. Newfangled’s opening this week is all the sweeter for its setting in a town where she grew up less than two miles away.

“I’m a true ‘river rat,’” Hoover says, staking claim to a time-honored term for natives along the Broad, Saluda, and Congaree rivers.

After finishing Brookland- Cayce High School in 1975, Hoover embarked on a 33-year career that included stints in the advertising, marketing, and news departments of The State newspaper and recently as head of marketing for the Columbia City Ballet.

She has acquired a wide range of skills and some new hobbies in those efforts. She is equally at home on a computer running Photoshop as heating up a soldering iron to repair the stained glass shade of a Tiffany lamp.

The Labor Day weekend was crunch time for the new business as Hoover and friends put the final changes on the 1,600-square-foot business. “The inventory is a mix of mostly contemporary furniture, art, lamps, lamp shades, rugs, tables, jewelry boxes, pillows, and the list goes on,” she said. “I have a lot of friends who make jewelry with their own lines. We’ll be featuring some Southwestern jewelry with lots of turquoise and other items made from sea glass,” she said.

“You could probably decorate your whole home with what we’ll have here. We’re also going to have plants and cut flowers from Jarrett’s Jungle. My friend Jackie Macaulay is the owner and a friend since the seventh grade,” she said.

Hoover started collecting inventory for her business two years ago, about the same time she identified her now remodeled building. At that time, it was close to becoming a derelict with broken windows and a leaky roof.

Growing up, Hoover remembers it was a tiny Gulf service station before later owners remodeled it. The last two businesses to occupy the place sold antiques.

With the help of a Small Business Administration loan and an infusion from her IRA, Hoover bought the property from the City of West Columbia and started renovation about two years ago. She remembers it was a headache from the beginning, with the sales contract thrown into dispute followed by the frustration of complying with unfamiliar and bewildering building codes.

Working from her own plans, she gutted the old office space, sandblasted the brick walls, added track lighting, new sheetrock, floors, and a second floor office/storage area with a deck opening to a spectacular view of the Columbia skyline.

Hoover says there were times when the project looked doomed, but her significant other, Ken Guay, an engineer at the Savannah River Site, urged her to keep the faith. “He said things will work out,” she said.

Guay took on the job of moving the inventory from Hoover’s home to the new store, renting a truck and handling most of the heavy lifting himself.

Newfangled’s opening marks one of the first steps in West Columbia’s plans to develop the cityowned adjacent property east toward the Congaree River.

Hoover’s new neighbors will be part of a city project named “Brookland” after the Lexington County community’s original name with a proposed $40 million mix of apartments, condominiums, restaurants, offices, and boutique stores as well as parking for river recreation.

"It’s the best thing that has ever happened to West Columbia," Hoover recently told a reporter.

Hoover originally set September 8 to open, but the crush of lastminute details proved too much. She says if all goes as planned, she’ll launch this weekend. In the meantime, customers and friends can follow the business at facebook.com /pages/Newfangled-Consignments/ 40433814967 7723.

When it goes online, the website’s address will be newfangledconsignments.com. The store’s phone number is (803) 960-6795.

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