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.”


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