FENWICK ISLAND – Timeless home furnishings, unique merchandise and exceptional staff.
That, according to owner Dee Dee Phillips, is what brings customers back to Carolina Street Garden & Home year after year.
Located on South Carolina Street in Fenwick, Carolina Street serves as Fenwick Island’s go-to shop for upscale home and garden décor.
Phillips, who runs the store with her husband Paul, said she first opened Carolina Street to cover living expenses. The couple had worked in the high-end antiques business and were looking for additional income in their spare time.
“I thought if I could just make enough money for us to live in the summer and keep our bills paid, I would be happy,” she said.
In the spring of 1992, Phillips noticed a ‘For Rent’ sign in the window of a commercial building on the corner of Route 1 and South Carolina Street, which is currently occupied by Atlantic Shoals Surf Shop. By July 1, Carolina Street, an upscale home furnishings store, was open for business.
“People kept saying to me ‘you shouldn’t do high-end, you should sell T-shirts. People are not going to buy this stuff,’” she said, “but I was bound and determined I was going to have a little better quality than what was up and down the beach.”
Phillips, who majored in interior design in college, said she began by selling unique and timeless home décor items and – after acquiring the building directly behind the storefront in 1998 – soon expanded her merchandise to include a slip cover upholstery line and larger furniture pieces.
“About the third year we were really sailing, and it was really fun because it was a whole different way of merchandising, a whole different way of selling, from the antiques business,” she said. “I didn’t have to explain everything or give a story, or sell these esoteric things. People would look at it, and if they liked it they bought it.”
In 2010, Phillips said Carolina Street lost the lease to its Coastal Highway storefront, and soon after the couple made the decision to move their entire business to the building behind it. Since then, Phillips has rebuilt her customer base and made new friends along the way.
“In the eight years we have been back here it has improved, and a lot of old customers are finding us again and we have a lot of new customers now,” she said. “The response has been great.”
Despite the ups and downs that come with owning a business, Phillips said she has no plans of stopping and credits the support of employees and customers for making her work enjoyable.
“I’m going to be 75 this year, and I still love doing this,” she said. “It’s still a happy thing for us.”
Today, Carolina Street customers can find a variety of specialty gifts and garden and home décor items, including couches, chairs, lamps, original oil paintings, intricate wood carvings, vases, rugs, and much more.
While Carolina Street is known to many as a high-end retail store (some items in the shop can sell for more than $4,000), Phillips said all customers can find unique items within their budget.
“People that really look can find cute stuff for under $20,” she said.
Carolina Street is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Wednesdays. Additional parking can be found across the street at Nantuckets Restaurant during business hours.
For more information, visit www.carolinastreet.com or the store’s Facebook page, or call 302-539-2405.