In 1992, SouthMarke changed the face of downtown with its signature Victorian architecture, beautiful garden setting and inviting, unique stores. Designed by well-known local architect David Patrick Moses, built by Steve Silver and Boone Construction and developed by then Florida residents, Karyn and Dieter Herterich. They envisioned a visual escape from big city shopping and set out to select businesses under-represented or not currently in our area. They even named their NC corporation which operated SouthMarke, MontSol (after Mountains and Sun). The name SouthMarke came from the complex being located at the south end of Main Street on historical property.
It was also the first organized shopping complex built on Main Street and the first to mandate year round business and minimum store hours. Blowing Rock’s current sign ordinance is based upon SouthMarke’s signage and materials. The six, small, stand alone seasonal Pavilions were an entirely new merchandising concept to offer additional specialty merchandise to the public, May through October. To put things in historical perspective, the average rent on Main Street in 1992 was $5.00 a sq. ft and most buildings were not winterized so many business closed after October and/or moved their entire inventory south- usually to resort communities in Florida. SouthMarke opened with tenants paying $12.00 a sq. ft and occupying state of the art buildings that offered both air-conditioning and heat (few building had either in the early 90’s). It was not long until property owners realized that they would have to make necessary improvements to command increases for comparable rent and slowly Blowing Rock’s Main Street became a little more lifelike during the winter months. Winterfest was born shortly thereafter.
Lease duration averages 11 years and overall occupancy is about 90%. SouthMarke’s policy of only accepting one type of retail business results in their management declining many potential tenants due to conflicts. Their longstanding philosophy is they wanted tenants who complement each other not compete with them.
On Saturday, May 27th, at 5 p.m., SouthMarke and their tenants will host a late afternoon anniversary celebration complete with cake, balloons, a few local dignitaries and, perhaps, some of their original tenants, many of whom still remain on Main Street today. Founding tenants were: Celeste’s, Sarah Peck, Winterfire Gallery, JW Tweeds and Pleasant Papers. In 1993, Serves You Right! opened and since that time a number of respected retailers such as We’re Good Sports and Gregory Alan founded their businesses in this garden setting. Longtime names such as Monkees, 100 West Union and Serves You Right! remain today. Last year, Blowing Rock Cigar and Club became the first private smoking club offering premium cigars in the High County. The Pavilion’s oldest business is B-Dazzled, the small fashion jewelry shop that greets shoppers at the Center’s upper sidewalk entrance. Lenoir residents, Lynn Hines and her late husband, Larry, opened 14 years ago this season. Since then a number of new businesses have been born in these small Pavilions. This season, returning Pavilions, Made In The Shade joins new tenants, Big Heart and Dreamweavers. The former food Pavilion has been leased by the cigar business to service their private club.
At the event on Saturday, there will be a cake-cutting and some champagne for celebrate. In attendance, there will be Jim Pitts, President of the Blowing Rock Chamber, and Charles Hardin. Along with this, George Wilcox, President of the Blowing Rock Civic Association. It’s going to be a wonderful event full of good times, great people and commemorating a wonderful and successful 25 years in the High Country.
SouthMarke and their tenants are proud of their Blowing Rock history and invite you to stop by next weekend to help celebrate with them.
For additional information, please see our website: www.southmarke.com or call Karyn Herterich at 828-265-7065