‘Southern Lifestyle’ apparel, gift retailer Palmetto Moon coming to The Mall at Johnson City

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The interior of an existing Palmetto Moon store. Photo courtesy Palmetto Moon.

JOHNSON CITY (WJHL) – Charleston, S.C.-based apparel and gift retailer Palmetto Moon will open its 27th store at The Mall in Johnson City, Palmetto Moon officials said Thursday.

Palmetto Moon will celebrate a grand opening April 4 and 5. The store will be in just over 8,000 square feet in the mall’s upper level near J.C. Penney in space most recently operated by Mercantile 423. Mall spokespoerson Sheila Reed confirmed Mercantile 423 will reopen in the mall’s lower level this spring.

“We have a pretty big, elaborate grand opening party,” Amber Dube, Palmetto Moon’s chief marketing officer said in a Thursday phone interview. In addition to prize drawings every 15 minutes over a four-hour period, she said the company brings in representatives from its vendors such as Yeti, Columbia and Southern Marsh.

A store at a Charleston outlet mall.

The family-founded company’s website advertises Palmetto Moon as “Celebrating Southern Lifestyle.” Stores also cater to college and university sports fans, typically offering a line of merchandise representing teams from that metro area.

“We anchor ourselves with a lot of collegiate gear,” Dube said.

The company has grown from its roots at a seasonal kiosk in Charleston’s Citadel Mall, where it started in 2002 primarily selling fan apparel from local universities. Founded by Bob Webster, who retired from the Belk department store chain, Palmetto Moon now operates in five states, opened a Knoxville store last year, and Johnson City will be its third Tennessee location overall.

Dube said Johnson City, being a college town, fit with the demographic, community and lifestyle approach she said the brand “exudes.” “We’re just a really laid back Southern lifestyle, low country living. We’re on trend but we’re not leading the trend, but we’re also looking for things that are uniquely different.”

“When we look at markets like Johnson City it brings that unique value proposition that we know we can fill,” Dube said. “We love that kind of laid back, small town feel.”

The stores carry a number of national brands. (Photos courtesy Palmetto Moon)

Dube said current CEO Eric Holzer, who is Webster’s son-in-law, keeps the company focused on creating a positive customer experience as e-commerce growth continues to create challenges for brick and mortar stores. One essential part of that centers around localizing each store’s offerings and feel to tailor them to the community, Dube said.

“When we go into each market we really want to understand what makes that market uniquely different from another,” she said. She said Palmetto Moon’s marketing is localized. “Sometimes our messaging, what may happen in Charleston certainly may not be relevant in Johnson City, and what’s important in Johnson City is certainly not important in Daytona, Fla.”

Dube said the company strives to be part of each community, including by getting involved in local non-profit efforts. In Charleston and other coastal towns that’s taken the form of beach cleanups and working with animal shelters, for instance.

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