“It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a year since we opened,” says The Grove founder and owner Carrie Ann Restel. She remembers the long evenings disassembling pallet boards and painting them white to create walls for her vendor spaces. That was a lot of splinters ago. It was hard for anyone to imagine that the one-story building at 107 Spring Street could be anything but a sterile space used to make signs and banners, but Carrie knew that it could be cute, and fun, and welcoming. It has become all that, and more.
This weekend The Grove will celebrate a wildly successful one year in business by going back to it’s 70s ‘roots’ with a huge Saturday event featuring shopping specials, loads of door prizes, hot dogs and burgers, according to Carrie, more birthday cake and cupcakes than you have ever seen!
When Carrie & partner Damon threw open the doors to their new concept store one year ago, they did it in a very groovy way, encouraging everyone to dress in their best 70s attire.
Proving yet again that strange clothing lives in the dark recesses of a closet, quite a few people showed up in party-perfect outfits. It was a fun and colorful weekend, and a lot of patrons came through the doors. The business has continued to grow in the 12 months since.
It is often hard to look at a space and envision what ‘can’ be, but when Carrie first saw the 8,000 SF former graphics shop just across from the Shreveport Convention Center parking garage, she knew that it could be a place for vendors to set up their wares and let someone else sell them, a shop that would be open only on certain weekends and special events. The concept of twice-monthly openings would not only keep the inventory feeling fresh and new (and give the vendors some down time to change out displays) but would also allow Carrie to work full time at her ‘other’ job with Ivan Smith Furniture.
The mix of vendors and the twice-monthly openings were a new concept to the area, but one that has worked. Much of the credit, though, goes to Carrie and the fact that this is her baby. She spends hours each month setting up spaces and refining the look, curating the vendors and promoting her vendors relentlessly. Her vendors not only got space for their rent, they got a one-woman media marketing machine, too.
The Grove opened in July 2022 with 22 vendors and boutiques. She now has over 50 and is creating space for yet more. “I had a dream for sure but never thought it would happen. We have a ton of customers that truly come every two weeks which makes it so fun being a part of their lives and them a part of ours. But also still getting to see the look on someone’s face when they come for the first time I LOVE!!!”
Carrie loves her work, and The Grove, and her customers, and that love is reflected back. Recently, one local Mom brought her daughter in for a special- and memorable- shopping day. Would this happen in a big box? Maybe. Would it be as much fun, be as personable, create the same memory? Not in a million.
Over the year, Carrie has learned some important things. She has worked to find the right mix of vendor boutiques for her customer base. “We’ve tried things that have failed and things that have succeeded. It’s definitely a balance we are still working to figure out. I enjoy offering customers the things they hoped to find when they come in but also the things they didn’t know they needed. I try hard to work with our vendors as much as I can to provide this.”
We are thrilled that Carrie chose downtown Shreveport to share her concept and grow her business, and we look forward to many more years at The Grove! We encourage you to experience The Grove and all of our downtown retail shops. You will be surprised and delighted by what you find!