“This isn’t your mother’s gift shop,” says West Columbia merchant Martha Wise, her slender hands punctuating each word.
A steady rain on a recent Saturday morning kept customers at bay but was a perfect time to absorb the details inside the small frame house on Meeting Street.
White Rose Artisans Boutique is a relative newcomer to the half-mile or so of shops starting at the west bank of the Congaree River. Shoppers can find a number of antique/gift shops and thrift stores in the same neighborhood, but Wise describes her place as unique and somewhat edgy.
The shop at 831 Meeting is a curated assemblage of art, antiques, jewelry, pottery, yard art, woodworking, collectables, and consignments selected to appeal to a wide range of tastes. Wise says most of her stock comes from local and regional artisans.
A quick look at some of her inventory reveals:
• Stained glass work from artist Christy Fall, including one three-dimensional panel incorporating wine bottles.
• Jom Sonday’s flower arrangements featuring orchids molded from clay.
• Lampshades made from leaves, jewelry made from nuts and tangerine rinds, and hand-painted recycled glass.
• Karen Langley’s seashore paintings, painted gourds and impressionistic paintings from Beverly Bouknight and watercolors from Cheryl Coble whose paint medium uses coffee grounds.
• Vintage clothing and other wearables including handmade scarves, shawls, recycled denim jackets, hats, and Cheryl Reynolds jewelry.
One visitor said the shop’s variety compares with the now closed Black Lion store that opened several years ago at Richland Mall.
“I loved Black Lion when they were here, but I don’t think my stuff would look as good in a regular store with just one big room,” Wise said.
Like many merchants, she has come to rely on her website (whiterosesc.com), Facebook and Twitter to promote the business. She also hosts monthly live events, as well as meet and greet receptions with featured artists.
The live events that include poetry reading and musical performances are on the first and third Tuesdays each month with a $5 cover and John Starino as host. Wise says the 1911-era building, with high ceilings and original bead board paneling, provides an intimate, home-like setting for the shows.
Wise grew up in Lexington where she finished high school and later graduated from Spartanburg Methodist College. Returning home, she worked for a while for her father’s concrete business before opening Vintage Rose, a vintage clothing shop. When country music was on the assent, she morphed the store into Vintage Rose Western Wear and Tack.
With a dip in the popularity of the country music scene, she decided it was time to change gears and opened a successful independent insurance firm that she operated for 14 years, selling out shortly before opening the boutique.
Wise says she named the shop in honor of her late mother, Rosa, whose 30-year career in the antiques business was a loving inspiration. Rosa Fore operated Forever Antiques and was a coowner with her husband, Thomas, of Foremost Pipeline Construction Co.