“If you go to a wedding or a special event, you shouldn’t be focused on how badly your shoes hurt. You should be having fun,” says Melissa Desautels, owner of Mount Pleasant’s newest shoe store, Dear Lucy. If having fun and refusing to suffer sound like good addendums to your life manifesto, you’ll love this store.
Dear Lucy began 40 years ago in Vermont, and Desautels is the third owner. When she was little, her grandfather had a suit shop, and her grandmother ran a dress shop in the basement. “My grandmother would take me on crazy shopping sprees to New York and Boston, so I got the bug,” Desautels says. “I worked retail all through college, then moved to New York City and worked for a chain of boutiques. I opened my own boutique in Burlington, Vermont, then eight years ago, the opportunity came to buy this business. I’m always looking for a challenge. I loved the store and was one of their biggest customers.”
In 2022, Desautels and her family visited Charleston on Spring Break and fell in love. The couple bought a historic home in Mount Pleasant’s Old Village without knowing how they would make it all work, including keeping the Dear Lucy store going in Vermont. “It’s been the best thing. My kids are so happy to be able to go outside 12 months out of the year,” she says. “It was definitely a bold move, but it’s been so positive.” After settling in, Desautels felt there was room in the Charleston market for shoes, and the brands she represents were excited to come along for the ride.
In March of this year, Dear Lucy opened its doors in the first-floor retail section of the new Oyster Park apartments at the corner of Ben Sawyer Boulevard and Riffle Range Road. This quaint little area is packed full of boutiques offering women’s clothing and accessories, as well as Pilates and massage. A few steps away are a handful of Mount Pleasant’s most popular restaurants, including Bon Bahn Mi, Kid Cashew and Spread Bagel Shop. “A lot is happening here, and parking is easy,” Desautels says. “You can shop for dresses next door or across the street, then come here for shoes and accessories.”
Desautels says clients have been excited about having easy access to well-known brands that are hard to come by locally. “People have been psyched on the brands,” she says. “They know most of our brands already, so they can shop online and do on-site pickup. If we don’t have their size, I can ship it from my Vermont store.”
Dear Lucy specializes in on-trend shoes that can be worn for multiple occasions. Desautels predicts the return of the penny loafer and the Mary Jane for fall but with a chunkier base. “Clogs and mules, that kind of vintage look, and sneakers with dresses are everywhere,” she says. “We’ve seen a huge uptick in cowboy boots, which Charleston women have been wearing forever. But a lot of brands are jumping on the trend with fun colors, metallics and textures, like crackled leather; they look great with dresses.”
Some popular brands include Sorel, known for its athleisure sneakers, boots and booties. Desautels is particularly excited about their fall collection. If you love Birkenstocks, you’ll be glad to know that this shoe maven gives her blessing to ’stocks and socks in fall and winter. “Birkenstock is a year-round shoe,” she says. “We have the Arizona, of course, but for fall, we also have shearling styles and the coveted Boston clog. It’s easy, and it’s cute, and we have lots of colors. If you want a pair, get them early because they fly off the shelves, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.”
The store also carries all styles of Uggs, including the popular Ultra Mini. “People were buying this shoe on the black market last year,” Desautels says. “The platform styles are cute, and the slippers are great for around the house or coffee runs.”
Dear Lucy also has a range of accessories, including a remarkable organic, minimal jewelry line by Chan Luu. “All of the pieces are handmade, and the stones are handpicked. The designer uses a lot of pearls and turquoise, which translates well in Charleston,” she says. Other accessories include sun hats, fedoras and handbags.
“People’s mindsets have shifted. We’re all looking for more comfort, and we’ll fit you in a cute, stylish, comfortable shoe,” she says. “Something else I’m proud of is three generations can shop my store at once, and everyone can have fun and find something they love.” *
Robin Howard is a freelance writer in Charleston. See more of her work at robinhowardwrites.com.