Business Feature: Southern Grace Boutique

By JOSHUA CAMPBELL,

Southern Grace Boutique is ready to make its mark as the new business in downtown Columbia.

Owners and sisters Misty Buckley and Crystal Upton wanted to go into business for themselves and the freedom it provides, and they believe their sisterly bond will help their success.

“We have a dynamic where we can bounce ideas off of each other,” Upton said. “If something doesn’t work, then the other has the ability to say ‘Hey, that’s really not going to work.’ I think it has really helped us get some good merchandise in the store.”

The sisters started the business as White Buck Trading Post in Ann’s Embroidery but moved into 625 Main St., formerly the WINGS building.

“This location became available, and we jumped on it because we just fell in love with it,” Upton said. “We branched out into our own place and filled it up almost immediately. We wound up changing the name (to Southern Grace Boutique) because we felt like this location had a different feel. Our vision changed after we moved here and got set up.”

As White Buck Trading Post the business was more driven toward embroidery, but the focus has since shifted toward boutique clothing.

“We get our clothes from vendors. We’re still looking for a brand we really like,” Buckley said. “We like the Umgee brand, which has been really popular, and we have Judy Blue jeans.”

Upton added the store also carries Jodifl dresses and tops and Steven Joseph rain coats and backpacks for children. However, Upton and Buckley plan to continue to go to vendor markets consistently to ensure they always have popular and high-quality clothing options.

“We want to keep the hottest trends in the store,” Upton said.

Southern Grace’s women’s boutique clothing has been a huge hit with sizes ranging from sizes small to XXXL, but it also carries screen-printed T-shirts and plans to get an embroidery machine soon.

Buckley added while the boutique is the focal point, Southern Grace also has gift and gourmet food items, as well as essential oils and nap mats, which is a requirement for daycare.

“Bringing in the essential oils with a good brand name to Columbia has been a big deal because everybody has had to go to Hattiesburg,” Upton chipped in. “It brings business back to Columbia when you have something you can only find in other towns.”

Southern Grace also carries one of the more popular name brands in the country.

“We do have the Vera Bradley line. It’s high-quality handbags, clutches, purses, wallets, beach towels, beach bags — you name it they have it,” Upton said. “They are high-quality bags that last forever. The patterns they offer are very unique to the Vera Bradley name.”

Southern Grace currently has a promotion for a free Vera Bradley tote bag with any Vera Bradley purchase of at least $100, which is a $48 value, while supplies last. In June, Southern Grace will hold a drawing for a Vera Bradley bag with customers able to enter with any in-store purchase. The winner will be announced June 29, and customers do not need to be present to win.

The sisters have big plans for Southern Grace moving forward, including creating a more unique marketplace.

“We want to bring stuff to Columbia that has not been easily found here just like the essential oils. That was something we really wanted to do,” Upton said. “I know it’s going to take time, but we have some really good ideas we want to bring to Columbia.”

Southern Grace Boutique is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.

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