Joe’s Place, the new and used bookstore near Falls Park on the Reedy where one might find everything from a copy of the unofficial biography of Tom Cruise to an 1867 printing of “The Complete Works of Robert Burns” while enjoying a glass of wine or pour over Due South Coffee, is moving across the river to a 1920s residence at 2 Williams St. in the Pettigru Historic District.
“It’s not because of the normal reasons most people move,” said Mary Bernard, co-owner, referring to the regular turnover of mom-and-pop businesses on Main Street when rent is raised.
In fact, the shop’s moving after only three years in its current location has nothing to do with their rent, or location, or any other business-impacting factor. The move is driven by the owners’ desire to own an asset, now that they’ve found a knack for retail.
“When we opened Joe’s Place none of us had a lot of retail experience,” Bernard said. “We weren’t sure how it was going to play out. It’s totally my happy place.”
The new Joe’s Place, predicted to open late April if the construction surprises are kept to a minimum, will be the first bookstore and gourmet coffee shop in the Pettigru area. The West End location will remain open as long as possible, closing only to move, Bernard said.
“When I saw the announcement that they were moving, I walked outside and high-fived my neighbor,” said John Boyanoski, owner of Complete PR, who lives and works in Pettigru. “I can walk 150 feet to the new location. It’s a fantastic, welcome addition.”
After a search for a West End location they could afford to purchase didn’t pan out, Bernard and her husband, Alix, expanded their search to nearby areas, eventually landing on the historic three-story home that hadn’t quite hit the market. It had sold in January 2016, but the owners were soon after relocated out of state and were on the fence about selling. The Bernards fell in love with it and decided it was perfect for their price range and what they needed.
“It needs a lot of work, but we could see the potential of it,” Bernard said. “We could see ourselves there.”
She said moving to 4,400 square feet from the current 1,900-square-foot location will allow them to expand on what they already do, such as having more space upstairs for private events and a full coffee bar. Due South Coffee, roasted in Taylors Mill, will be developing a Joe’s Place blend.
“It’ll be the same business, but on steroids,” Bernard said.
The home is already zoned commercial and has an enviable eight parking spaces, which is something Bernard said was a priority after spending three years parking at County Square and walking to the store or shelling out $5 to park in a nearby lot.
Joe’s Place moving to Pettigru will also be one of the first consumer-oriented businesses in the area.
“The Pettigru Historic District is perhaps [one of] Greenville’s last undiscovered gems,” said Carlton Owen, President and CEO of the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and a Pettigru resident for more than a decade after he and his wife constructed the state’s first green certified house at 620 Pettigru St. “Once a mixed enclave for textile firm owners as well as blue-collar workers, it drifted far from its residential roots to an area dominated by law offices and other businesses.”
Recently, the business-to-residence ratio has begun to shift as more offices are converted to residences.
“We are excited about the rebirth of Pettigru,” Owen said. “Our hope is that the remixing will continue as others discover the history, charm and convenience of living adjacent to the city, its largest park and we soon hope a new segment of the Swamp Rabbit Trail.”
Anja Smith, who handles business development for All Clear Plumbing, moved to Pettigru a little more than a year ago from Simpsonville to try living in a more walk-able area.
“It’s been a huge lifestyle shift,” she said.
Smith lives on Williams Street, two blocks away from the new Joe’s Place and said she is looking forward to having a bookstore nearby for residents but also sees it as a way of drawing more people to the district to discover what she believes is Greenville’s best-kept secret.
“To have that in our own backyard, where we can get wine or coffee, is great,” Smith said. “We don’t get a lot of people from outside the neighborhood. Having a bookstore adds to the quaint, walkable, old-school feel.”