Beach boutique, recipient of $50K prize, to open a shop in downtown Florence,

Beach boutique, recipient of $50K prize, to open a shop in downtown Florence,
Source: Vandelyn Nichols
Source: Vandelyn Nichols

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Downtown Florence is recruiting more retail businesses with their $50,000 incentive competition.

The contest was created to give existing retail businesses around the region and owners or franchisees the opportunity to relocate or expand their existing business into the Downtown Florence Historical District.

One lucky business owner out of 36 entries was selected.

The panel of judges chose L. Mae Boutique, LLC, which has two existing locations in Pawleys Island and Myrtle Beach. It is opening a third store in downtown Florence that will offer their two unique brands.

L. Mae offers a colorful and preppy style, and Wild Mabel is considered more laid back and bohemian, executive manager Vandelyn Nichols said.

According to Nichols, L. Mae and Wild Mabel Clothing Company was a vendor at the previous Pecan Festival in downtown Florence. There, the business partners had the chance to see all the revitalization happening and said the historic feel of making something that is older new again fit seamlessly with their brand.

Nichols said the $50,000 will help with all the upfit cost and renovations of one of the historic storefronts. She added that she loves teaching younger people the business skills and entrepreneurship of running a business.

"We have an internship program with college girls and I really like growing those individuals and helping them find their passion as well, and it just so happens we all love fashion," Nichols said. "I think fashion is such a great outlet for inspiration and we can do that under that blanket, so it's just a really fun working environment."

Nichols said she will be hiring sales associates and plans to team up with Francis Marion University for an internship program as well. The exact location is not yet set, but a storefront will be selected soon. Hopes are to open the store by the end of 2017.

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