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Southern Hospitality

“We want to change the idea of what a ‘mom and pop’ store can look like,” says Zhenya Kuhne of Sugar Snap Peas.

downloadBefore opening Sugar Snap Pea in 2010, Zhenya Kuhne lived in Chicago and worked in the publishing industry. “I wanted to get out of the cold and into the charming Charleston everyone loves,” Kuhne explains. And that’s exactly what she did: Housed in the city’s posh shopping district, Sugar Snap Pea’s bustling clientele is a mix of tourists and locals, most of whom assume the shop is an upscale chain upon entry. (Her King Street boutique was so successful she opened a second location in the suburbs of Charleston in 2013.) “We want to change the idea of what a ‘mom and pop’ store can look like,” offers Kuhne. “We focus on the product being represented in an easy way.” Natural wood and galvanized metal face-outs are used in lieu of racks to show off the shop’s apparel, toys and accessories for infants to girls’ age 12.

In today’s Amazon era, Kuhne’s goal is to “retrain” her shoppers to expect more by welcoming customers to her store as she would her own home. “It’s a very European experience that we’re trying to bring to Charleston,” she adds. And all of the store’s employees—from buyers to marketing associates and Kuhne herself—take turns working the floor. That being said, Kuhne sees social media as a key part of the overall experience. “Our customers have said numerous times, ‘I saw this on Instagram and was dying to see it,’” she explains. “They’re gravitating to the store to actually feel and touch an item, and to be educated about our product.”

Nail art, earrings and veggie-based perfume sticks by Poppy Drops are a top-seller with tweens. (

For encouraging creativity, Kuhne steers parents toward Maileg’s mouse in a matchbox. “Kids are supposed to come up with their own stories behind it. You can picture two little girls sitting on a fun rug playing with their little mice.” (

“Appaman is our go-to for all climates. Though cold weather is very brief here, they have great layering pieces and accessories.” (

Infant gowns by Goumi Kids are “good for parents who are sleep-deprived. You can unsnap their feet for a quick night change.” (

Girls who love “flashy things” can’t resist accessories from Two’s Company. “A $3 headband can be a nice little add-on.” (

The store’s latest addition? ‘Lil Fairy Door. “It goes back to the imaginative play. It’s a teeny tiny door that you attach to your baseboard at home and fairies live behind it.” (

“Mermaids and fairies and unicorns have become the hottest thing right now.” Hampton Mermaid Company makes mermaid tails, recommended for strong swimmers or splashing in the shallow end. (hampton

With a flat head that grips food without spilling, she suggests NumNum’s spoons for baby. (

Holly & Beau’s color-changing umbrellas are “very cool and reasonably priced.” (hollyand

Beloved for its bright jewelry and whimsical accessories, “Peppercorn Kids has always been a wonderful line for us.” (

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