“I am a boutique shopper,” she said. “I have always enjoyed the boutique experience: going into really interesting buildings, very cool shops that have unique products. I just enjoy that versus going into a mall, going into a chain.”
She sells an eclectic assortment of stylish home accents, tasty gourmet food, linen and leather handbags and accessories, gifts for baby, and fine serving pieces.
She counts merchandising as one of her strengths and talents – and displays each set of products as a vignette that tells a story. At the same time, she strives to fit these vignettes together in a way that makes the shopping overall experience pleasing to the eye.
“I want people to walk in here and be pleased and not really know why,” Ewing said. “I want to make them feel comfortable.”
She’s recently added fresh cut flowers – an element that she said reminds her of the urban neighborhood feel of her native Philadelphia.
But Ewing’s retail store on Market Street in Downtown Kingsport is just one aspect of her business. Charmed Southern also offers interior design services and event planning, which includes the option to use the store’s own private outdoor courtyard venue.
“The response from our customers over the courtyard has been very positive,” she said. “They tell me quite often it reminds them of Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans. I love to hear that.”
Ewing first opened the business in 2004 in Rogersville, her husband’s hometown. In search of a location with more foot traffic, she moved it to its first downtown Kingsport location on Broad Street in 2011.
“We were there for a year and, in that year, I really became involved with the Downtown Kingsport Association,” she said. “It just opened up a whole different realm of business contacts for me, and there’s so much synergy it’s incredible.”
Even without a street-facing store, she said, her business grew. Since she moved to a street-facing storefront on Market Street in May, business has been nothing but up.
“We’ve had incredible growth over last year,” she said, “which is amazing during a recession in this particular region.”
She said one thing that’s great about Downtown Kingsport is the way it combines the friendliness of East Tennessee with a hip urban feel.
“I love small-town America, but I really miss the urban side of things,” she said. “That’s what’s so great about Kingsport: You have that urban feel downtown, but you still have small-town America. It’s kind of the best of both worlds to me.”
Right now, she said, she loves the experience of owning a business downtown – and is enthusiastic about the future.
“I love this block. I enjoy all the other merchants; we get along so well. I just couldn’t be any happier,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to riding the wave and seeing what happens next with Kingsport.”