In May, the Florence Downtown Development Corporation announced their “Full Forward Downtown Business Contest.” By the deadline of July 7th, thirty-six business owners had submitted their entry to win $50,000. The contest was created to give existing retail businesses owners or franchisees the opportunity to relocate or expand their existing business into the Downtown Florence Historical District in an effort to increase the number of retail shops in the downtown area.
On Thursday, August 4th, a panel of judges selected L. Mae Boutique as the winner. They will receive over $50,000 which includes a $20,000 cash prize for expenses related to the new store, plus an additional $30,000 up-fit grant to be used for interior renovations to the building that the winner leases to house their business. In addition, the winner will receive $500.00 for signage and a first year business license credit of $300.00. Special lease incentives may also be offered by selected property owners.
L. Mae Boutique, LLC has two existing locations, one in Pawleys Island and a second location in Myrtle Beach. L. Mae Boutique is comprised of two unique brands, L. Mae Boutique and Wild Mabel Clothing Company. L. Mae offers a colorful preppy style while Wild Mabel yields a more relaxed beachy-boho look. Their target customer is 16-44 year old females. Vandelyn Nichols, a Clemson graduate, is their Executive Manager. She originally initiated the L. Mae Boutique business as a part-time hobby while working in the healthcare industry and as the home based on-line business grew the decision was made to open a location in Pawleys Island. As the business continued to develop, a second location opened in Myrtle Beach and plans are to have the Florence location open by November of this year. The exact downtown location has not yet been determined.
Bob Sager, Retail Recruitment Specialist with the Florence Downtown Development Corporation commented “the contest greatly exceeded our expectations, we never envisioned that we would receive thirty-six entries. While L.Mae was the winner of the $50,000 prize, most of the other entries will still be eligible to receive the up-fit grant as well as the sign grant and business license credit should they choose to locate a business downtown. Those incentives total over $30,000.00.”
For additional information, call Bob Sager at 843-407-1512.