AA home decor and furnishings store will open by the end of May in the former Kmart on Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach, one of the owners said Tuesday.
Carolina Pottery, headquartered in Fort Mill, opened its first store in an outlet mall along Interstate 95 outside Smithfield, N.C., in 1983 and now has stores in West Columbia, Cary, N.C., and Augusta, Ga.
The family-owned business is scouting the Carolinas for other locations, but “right now we’re concentrating on Myrtle Beach,” said Tim Marsh, one of the owners.
The family also owns a chain of smaller stores called Home South in the Charlotte, N.C., area.
Marsh said they have been looking for a location in Myrtle Beach for a while, and that “everything fell into place.”
The Kings Festival Shopping Center, where the store is located, has a number of other vacant spaces that owner Gator Investments hopes will be easier to lease with the new tenant open, said Tim Little, the company’s property manger.
Carolina Pottery wants to be open in time for the summer’s tourist rush, company chief operating officer Grady Marsh told Little as he signed the lease on the service desk inside the vacant store Tuesday.
The two toured the building as Marsh inspected things such as electrical boxes, warehouse space and the condition of the sales floor area.
Grady Marsh said the family believes the new Myrtle Beach store will be more in the league of the flagship Carolina Pottery in volume than the company’s other stores, which average about $4 million in annual sales.
The Smithfield store has $10 million in revenue each year, Grady Marsh said, and while the family thinks the Myrtle Beach store will start in the $7 million range, it believes it could rival sales on I-95.
Grady Marsh said his grandfather, Dick Fleming, owned a Howard Johnson’s motel and restaurant and started the first Carolina Pottery across the interstate to stimulate business at the motel.
Fleming’s wife used to shop at a store called Colonial Pottery in Williamsburg, Va., and it gave Fleming the idea for his store.
The original 40,000-square-foot Carolina Pottery moved to a 100,000-square-foot location nearby and Fleming’s brother built it into the initial outlet mall of what would become Factory Stores of America, which at one time had locations throughout the country.
The outlet chain no longer exists.
Carolina Pottery will have items that sell from 99 cents to several thousand dollars, Grady Marsh said.
Seasonal items will include patio furniture in the spring, autumn decor and silk flowers and Christmas items.
Kmart closed the store at 1403 N. Kings Highway last fall, leaving the chain with just a single Horry County location in Conway.
The store had 59 employees when it closed.
Grady Marsh said Carolina Pottery likely will open with 50 to 70 employees, about 20 of whom will be full time.
Applications can be made at www.carolinapottery.com by clicking on the icon for the Myrtle Beach store, then on the jobs tab. Starting pay will be about $8 an hour.
People also can apply in person next week at the Kings Highway store. There will be signs posted at the store that give the hours for interviews.
The store will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday with Sunday hours in the 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. range.