Rhodes Boutique and Rhodes Home & Gift are the realization of years of experience in retail by entrepreneur and business owner Caroline Rhodes. A long-time resident of the Charleston area, Rhodes moved to the city in 1982 and met her husband, Malcolm. After completing her degree in accounting and marketing from the University of South Carolina, her career was full to the brim working in the financial sector, first at a local accounting firm, then at South Carolina National Bank and First Union (both now Wells Fargo) and, later, in retail and real estate sales. Through the 1990s, as her husband was laying the foundation for his pediatric practice, Rhodes was holding down the fort at home, raising their two daughters.
In 2000, Malcolm had a notion to open a fly-fishing shop, as fishing was a favorite hobby. But balancing a pediatric practice and a retail shop was no small task and soon Rhodes swooped in to assist in the operation, finding in the process that she really enjoyed running a retail business and had a knack for it. The business grew quickly and became one of the most popular shops for Lowcountry anglers.
Over the years, Rhodes expanded that store’s offerings through a separate shop, Embroidery Boutique, which focused on gifts, apparel, home goods and books, as well as offering custom monogramming and embroidery services. Rhodes enjoyed the routine of finding new products and trying them out in the store, discovering in the process that she had real talent as a retail buyer. As the gift and embroidery end of the business expanded and took on a life of its own, Rhodes began envisioning a new outlet for her business savvy, one that included her love of apparel, accessories, baby items, children’s books, fine linens, gift items and home goods. In 2017, with her much expanded offerings, Rhodes changed the name to Rhodes Boutique.
Situated in the South Windermere Center in the West Ashley area, Rhodes Boutique is a favorite spot for locals, and over time also became known to seasonal vacationers and visitors. Rhodes and her eldest daughter, McNair Rhodes Somheil, put their respective talents together and grew what had been a monogram and gift shop into a full-scale clothing and lifestyle boutique. Together, they curated an array of women’s apparel lines with complementing accessories, a substantial offering of wedding-appropriate gifts (plus an online gift registry), distinctive home décor items and essentials, as well as seasonal, holiday and life-event gifts. And for all appropriate items in their shop, they continued to offer tasteful, custom embroidery services.
Over the next couple of years, both the clothing side of the business and the home goods and gift products grew exponentially, with the store rapidly running out of space. Rather than downsizing one part of the business, Rhodes saw fit to secure another storefront just four doors down. This new space afforded them the opportunity to expand both the home goods and gifts, while giving the boutique some much needed room to grow its offerings. This second location allowed a better shopping experience for customers focused on building their wardrobes. The new creation: Rhodes Home & Gift.
Somheil worked on designing the new store, and in the process created a much-improved retail setting. More of each product line is displayed, and the new space allows for creative and lavish tabletop presentations, decorative vignettes and areas where couples can work on their wedding registry selections. The spacious, home-like ambience of this new store allows guests to fully engage with the shop’s bounty of distinctive and artistic offerings, creating an exceptionally enjoyable shopping experience. And at the new store, customers continue to enjoy the custom embroidery services and complimentary gift wrapping.
What sets the stores apart from the competition is their connection to the community. Rhodes and her staff know their customers, both on a personal level and by understanding what is important to them. They have learned which fashions are appealing and fit their customers’ lifestyles. And the staff goes above and beyond to find that unique item that will enhance the lives of their customers.
Both the Rhodes Boutique and the Home & Gift store offer higher-end product lines of exceptional quality. Houseware selections resonate with the ambience of the Lowcountry; many items feature traditional motifs, hand-painted keepsake-quality design and an emphasis on entertaining Charleston-style. Putting together an aesthetically pleasing home that lends itself to entertaining family and friends is of utmost importance to customers, and Rhodes delivers.
Among Rhodes Home & Gift offerings are all manner of tabletop elements, including cutlery, china, stemware, linens, serving pieces, decorative detailing items and wallpaper from Schumacher. Gifting items include crystal and fine glassware from Simon Pearce, Barski, Blue Pheasant and Badash and an assortment of decorative and practical kitchenware and tabletop items, as well as luxury bedding.
And as Rhodes Home & Gift is finding its stride, Rhodes Boutique blossoms, carrying trendy casualwear such as jeans and leggings, shorts, dresses and skirts, and a variety of fun and colorful tops and sweaters. Especially useful is Rhodes’ collection of “resort wear,” which includes practical, easy-to-pack ensembles that are comfortable and colorful, items that will make you feel right at home, wherever you go. Other notable items include a variety of gifts and accessories for men—Brackish bow ties, cufflinks and cummerbunds.
Whenever you need a can’t-miss gift for an important occasion or are looking to add panache to a space, Rhodes Boutique and Rhodes Home & Gift have what you are looking for.
Christina Andrews is a freelance writer from the Napa Valley who specializes in personal and business bios, food and wine, visual arts, music, hospitality, the event industry, community interest stories, obituaries and political satire.