TEGA CAY -- Chasing the hottest trends no longer requires a trip to Charlotte, thanks to Melissa and Bob Thomas of Tega Cay who recently opened L.A. East in Stonecrest. They say more than 100 people walk through the door every week.
"We looked at every location available from Stonecrest to Ballantyne to South Park," Melissa said. "We wanted to stay local, and this is one of the fastest-growing areas in the country."
The store, billed as carrying "the hottest clothes east of L.A.," carries 15 brands of premium denim and more than two dozen up-and-coming and established designer clothing and accessories lines for men and women.
The couple attends trade shows in Las Vegas, New York and Atlanta to check out new products and rely on wholesale contacts made the last six years while running an Internet-based clothing store.
"My husband decided it was time to open a brick-and-mortar store," she said.
Clothing prices range from $25 to $250, Thomas said. One of her favorite features, and one customers seem to like too, is the denim bar. There, customers can relax while perusing a "menu" of the brands of jeans L.A. East carries, and Thomas or one of her two sales associates will help pick the brand that best suits what they're looking for.
"I think it's a fabulous store," customer Jamie Rudzinski said. "It's up to date, modern, hip. It's great for the younger crowd, the 16 to 35 year olds."
Another trendy fashion boutique, Page 6, plans to open its second location in October at MarketPlace building, currently under construction on Market Street in Baxter Town Center, according Kerri Robuso, spokeswoman for Baxter developer Clear Springs Development.
Residents, however, can get a feel for what to expect by visiting the company's other store that opened two years ago on Heckle Boulevard in Rock Hill.
"We were also drawn to the boutique atmosphere and charm of Baxter," owner Deana Teague said in statement released by Clear Springs. "We already have several clients from Baxter at our original location."
The two stores also have competition to the north at Plaza Fiesta, near Carowinds, where dozens of small boutiques carry everything from children's clothes to sportswear and trendy women's fashion. There also are four major clothing retailers -- Van Huesen, Hamrick's, Bass Outlet and El Potero Western Wear.
L.A. East is open 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call (803) 746-7792 or visit laeast.net.