When you’re looking for the perfect gift for family, friends (or even a little something for your own home) Crossings on Main located in downtown Fort Mill is a go-to destination. Since the shop first opened in 1994, the Fort Mill area has grown with the renovation of many of the shops on Main Street and the additions of Baxter and Kingsley. The Fort Mill area has become a popular place to visit for both locals and out-of-town guests alike.
In recent years we had the pleasure of re-discovering the shop after it’s extensive renovation and we’re always amazed with all the beautiful things they have in store. Whether you’re attending one of the pop-up events where you have the opportunity to meet with local vendors and artisans, Crossings on Main is a wonderful way to spend a few hours as your peruse their ever growing collection of home decor and gift items.
Over the weekend I had the chance to sit down with the co-founder, and current owner of the shop, Cathie Smith. In this interview she shares an inside look on how Crossings on Main began, what she looks for when introducing a new brand to her customers, and what she enjoys most about hosting events.
You co-founded Crossings on Main with your mother-in-law (Gail Lavender) in 1994. What was it about the Fort Mill area that made you decide to open a shop there?
My husband (Chip) and I moved to Fort Mill after we married. I had been working at a brokerage firm in Charlotte, but after having my 2nd child I wanted to be able to stay home with my children instead of commuting into Charlotte everyday.
The building was owned by Gail’s husband and was empty, which made it the perfect spot to set up our shop. Our first idea was to open a antique shop and be open 3 days a week. In the end we decided to open up a gift and home accessories shop and were open 5-6 days a week.
Another reason for opening up a shop in Fort Mill was because we had a strong feeling to be in South Carolina. We painted and renovated the interior of the shop and gave it a bit of an upgrade before we first opened and again when Gail needed to retire 5 years ago we did a huge renovation and sold most of the merchandise we had before doing a total revamp. Around that time the economy started to improve and with Fort Mill growing (with the addition of Baxter Village and now Kingsley) as well as the changing scene on Fort Mill’s Main street, the Fort Mill area become more of a destination for people to visit.
The shop local movement that started to happen nationwide has also benefited many local businesses including those in Fort Mill.
The shop has gone through a lot of changes and renovations since the early days and you’ve recently expanded the shop. What was the most exciting thing about watching the shop grow and change over time?
The loyalty of the customers. They really like that we’re here and that’s why we keep going. It’s a very healthy community. Having people who appreciate us and bring their family here makes it a good place to be.
From brands like Vietri to popular brands like blogger run Cupcakes & Cashmere. What do you look for when selecting a brand to introduce to your customers?
If it’s a well known brand, it’s not a hard choice. I already know the quality and the cost. For clothing brands I’m looking out for both cost and fit. I’m always looking for items that will suit young brides and people just starting out.
When it comes to unknown brands, I rely on my gut feeling on whether it’s a good fit and then I’ll take a chance on it. I research to see what other shops are carrying and that helps me be aware of what’s available. I also have a good relationship with my current vendors and I’ll ask them for suggestions.
One thing I try to keep in mind when I introduce new brands is keeping the overall southern aesthetic.
Each year you go to market (in Atlanta) What do you enjoy the most about the experience?
It’s my ultimate source of inspiration and I’m always filled with so much excitement while I’m there. When I see items, I get a mental picture of how I’d like to display it in the shop. I just love having those ‘light bulb moments’ and coming up with a fresh concept.
One of the items we’ve found (and a new brand that we’ve brought to the shop) are melamine pieces by Beatriz Ball. It’s very sturdy and melamine in general has come such a long way. Plus it’s good for wedding registries!
I like to look for both versatile and classy pieces, that are light enough to take to events, or entertain with in the comfort of your own home.
When I go to market I always have my daughter with me and our manager Keith. We make a good team.
Whenever I see a hat, I just have to try it on.
With the recent expansion, you’ve extended the clothing items that you carry. What led you to the decision to offer more clothing options in store?
I had kept asking myself, “What do people need? What am I missing?” Then I started dabbling in clothing by carrying a few lines. After that I saw a true need for clothing in Fort Mill. The teen scene was already covered, but we needed to fulfill the clothing need for the professional demographic. We do keep things on trend, but I also look at cost at the same time. I’m always going to keep bringing in new lines. There’s just so much out there.
I love it when a group will come in and try on clothing in the shop. (Now that we have the expansion for clothing and the dressing rooms this really helps with the overall experience. Our clothing has different price points with a well-rounded offering. I try to get my clothing items in all the available sizes.
When it comes to gift giving, what is the number one item that you frequently suggest?
I always start by asking what someone is looking for and then direct them to the right place. Essentially I like to give them a suggestion and place to to start, and then allow them to wander the shop and find the perfect item they’re look for.
For weddings, I always suggestion something from Veitri or a melamine piece for entertaining. For gifts, it’s usually a Scout bag, candles or jewelry. I also sell local items that can be given as mementos to remind people of their visit.
Books (which you’ve find throughout the shop) are always a good idea when you’re looking for home decor.
What are some of the items in the shop that seem to be best sellers?
Candles and jewelry are always our top sellers. We have a wide selection at good price points. The clothing we have in shop has become much more popular with the new addition. Around graduation (and the start of the new school year) the Scout bags become very popular.
Home accessories for accenting the home and books for decor are also very popular.
You recently had a special event for Mother’s Day, Mom’s and Mimosas. As a shop owner what do you enjoy the most about hosting events like this?
The customers excitement as they see new displays and items. I love seeing that everyone is having a good time, and having refreshments whether it’s mimosas or water infused with fruit always adds to the fun.
For our last event we brought in a local artist, Whitney Sims, who created watercolor pieces during the event. I enjoy bringing in local vendors for various events.
Before we have a new event it’s all about creating a little buzz and giving our customers the chance to see something that isn’t always there in the shop.
I also enjoy giving events where a percentage of the sale goes to a local non-profit. I like to bring awareness about the different organizations that are out there.
Thank you so much for the interview, Cathie! Looking forward to stopping in again soon!
Keep up with Crossing on Main through the following links…