Millwood shops show maturing market

A worker walks through aisles at Paula Gillman & Co. on Friday while the store was being set up. The kitchen store, located in Millwood Plantation, will open Friday.
A worker walks through aisles at Paula Gillman & Co. on Friday while the store was being set up. The kitchen store, located in Millwood Plantation, will open Friday.

Paula Gillman and Michael Kelly share a common goal with their new shops at Millwood Plantation: Bring a piece of Charlotte's uptown flair down to Rock Hill.

Gillman, the owner of Paula Gillman & Co. kitchen store, will open her doors Friday, offering high-end kitchen wares in the newest building at Millwood Plantation on Herlong Avenue. Next door, Kelly, owner of Loft 13 eclectic gift and housewares store, has been open for a few weeks, selling everything from greeting cards to vintage home decor.

The shops resemble stores commonly found at Charlotte's South Park or Ballantyne.

"There's no need to drive to Charlotte anymore," Gillman said. "It's definitely a void in this area we think we can fill."

The new shops join close to a dozen restaurants and boutiques at Rock Hill's fast-growing Millwood Plantation. Millwood is quickly becoming a destination for shoppers looking for higher-end alternatives to traditional mall stores, with a tenant list including Jos. A. Bank, Talbot's and Chicos.

Rob Youngblood, president of the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce, expects more specialty shops will be on Rock Hill's horizon. He said "Pennies For Progress" road improvements on Herlong Avenue and the city's expanding demographics will continue to attract different retail flavors.

"I think it shows our market is maturing," Youngblood said. "A lot of the people who normally would travel to Charlotte are now staying home and spending their dollars in York County."

Gillman, a Rock Hill resident with more than 20 years in the retail field, including work as a buyer for major department stores, offers a wide selection of top-shelf cookware. Paula Gillman & Co. resembles popular Charlotte stores Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma, but with a cozier atmosphere, Gillman says. In addition to a plethora of accessories and a 12-foot long cutlery display, the store boasts a full kitchen used for cooking demonstrations and wine and food tastings.

"We have a big focus on customer service," Gillman said. "It's everything you need for gourmet, upscale cooking."

Next door, Loft 13 combines the elements of a Hallmark, Pier One Imports and Urban Outfitters, mixes in some contemporary, eclectic flavor and serves up a taste of its own.

"It's a little bit of everything," said Kelly, who created the store to appeal to a younger, contemporary clientele after 10 years in retail. "It's one of a kind."

Loft 13 carries a unique blend of offbeat home decor, vintage furniture and artwork, cool gift ideas and greeting cards. There's also a selection of recipe, self-help and humorous books.

"I've got the funniest cards you'll find anywhere," Kelly said. "I've had grown women belly-laughing at them."

Kelly said he knew the store would be a risk because it's unlike anything else in town, but, so far, he's witnessed steady sales and solid reviews from customers. He said plans for Durango Bagel, a local bakery formerly located near Winthrop University, to open next to Paula Gillman & Co. in October will help draw even more traffic to Millwood's newest building.

"Tony Berry (the developer) has put together a lot of good plans," Kelly said. "I want to see it keep growing."

• What: Loft 13

• Products: Eclectic home decor, furniture, stationery, bath and body

• Where: Millwood Plantation, 404 Herlong Ave.

• Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; Noon to 6 p.m. Sundays

• Phone: 329-1101

• On the Web:

• What: Paula Gillman & Co.

• Products: Kitchen wares, accessories and classes

• Where: Millwood Plantation, 403 Herlong Ave.

• Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sundays

• Phone: 329-4567