charleston

Just saying the word “Charleston” tastes honeyed. The heavy air, slower pace and southern hospitality of this town will seduce you. The shopping and food will do you in.

I had the good fortune to visit this city a number of times on business over the past year or so. While the first visit left me wondering why any human would choose to live in an oven, my subsequent trips changed my impressions of this beautiful little town forever.

This post is centered on the shopping. Specifically a gem of a store called, appropriately “Worthwhile“. Located on King Street amongst some (regrettable) chains, this establishment is a wonderland of inspiration. The merchandising is exquisite, with enough breathing room to allow you the luxury of lingering every few steps. The displays are perfection and center on the theme of a seamstress shop. Hand drawn sketches are artfully pinned to one wall and dress mannequins are scattered throughout. The first time I walked through the doors, I literally lost my breath for a moment. “Which way? What to look at first? Oh my God, I\’m in retail nirvana.”

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The second visit was still as transporting as the first, with an added layer of glee in sharing it with my friend  Peggy (featured above). We couldn\’t get over how utterly PERFECT everything was. Despite having a range of products, they keep the selection of each category so focused it doesn\’t assault you. The product lines are well chosen, trendy without being stuffy, and include many unusual brands I had never heard of.

Being in the field I am, I am very interested in how retail brands create environments, how they entice the shopper through architecture, product and merchandising. In this store I experienced an insane “need” for almost everything I looked at. If ever there were a recipe to incite the spending gene, Worthwhile has it.

I managed to keep the damage relatively low, leaving with:

1. a fabulous distressed leather messenger bag by Jas M.B. London

2. a dreamy little black tee by Radcliffe, London (…is there a trend here?)

3. a pair of unusual black t-bar sandals

The service was impeccable. Not only were the sales assistants helpful, they personally wrapped everything up with European flair. Nothing was simply dumped in a bag. Each item was lovingly placed in tissue, wrapped and tied. After all that they even offered to ship our items at no cost. I wasn\’t leaving the store without my treasures, so I politely declined and asked them to instead wrap up my shoes and old bag so I could instantly enjoy my purchases.

I am still on their mailing list and each time I get an email I feel the need for Charleston–and a Worthwhile–fix. While their website falls a bit short on capturing the magic, I highly recommend visiting in person should you ever find yourself in Charleston.

Worthwhile has created an exceptional retail brand experience that is original, memorable and begs many return visits.

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