Despite the name, The Boulevard ironically has never been located on an actual boulevard. When the gift shop was in NoDa, it was at the corner of 36th and North Davidson streets. Now that it's reopened in South End, you can find the locally owned store at the corner of South Tryon and Summit streets.
Back in April, The Boulevard, known for its dedication to local entrepreneurs and artists, announced via its social media sites that after five years in NoDa, it would not be renewing its lease. (The spot the shop vacated has since reopened as The Blind Pig, a sports bar.) "We are not going out of business; we simply see a change in the neighborhood with the loss of galleries and the increase in nightlife traffic and do not see another five years as the right step to take," said a statement on their website.
Jennifer Branham says that she and her partners Cindy Harris, Carmen Ellis and Angie Regan were attracted to the idea of moving the shop to South End as soon as they started talking about where to go next. "The gallery crawl was always an amazing night in NoDa, and as the galleries started moving out of NoDa, we really wanted to follow that." South End hosts a gallery crawl on the first Friday of each month.
Inside the 2,600-square-foot space, décor items and furniture that would seem odd by themselves come together to create a homey, rustic feel. The random door panels hanging from the ceiling and wooden window frames posted on the wall display merchandise like purses and jewelry. Tables, some painted white, hold greeting cards, artwork and accessories. To the right of the entrance when you walk in are two tree-like figures; from one's branches hang necklaces, from the other's, handmade Arabian origami stars.
When it came to decorating the new store, Branham and her team decided that everything would be upcycled.
"We haven't purchased any new pieces, as far as the decor is concerned. Everything has come from ReStore or Goodwill. So every piece, we've actually found and refurbished. We have a bike hanging on the wall that's from the 1920s that we found at a junkyard. It's very eco. We wanted to be as green as possible."
For those who have never visited The Boulevard, the array of goods might be overwhelming; it certainly is one of those places that you'll want to peruse for a while. It's like a chic flea market owned by people with good taste. The merchandise is courtesy of vendors, or partners, as Branham calls them.
"Right now, I believe that we have 15 partners coming in to set up different booths inside The Boulevard," Branham says. "Some of the vendors we had in NoDa are staying with us, and then we found a few new ones also."
Some of the returning merchants include Natural Luxe (owned by Branham), the only certified green retail boutique in Charlotte; Meow & Fetch, offering pet-oriented items and Cloverleaf Creations, a handmade jewelry line.
One change fans of the shop will notice is more clothing and accessories. The Boulevard itself, rather than any single merchant, will offer women's and children's clothing, located in the back of the store. To compliment that, Vault Denim, a direct-sales company, will set up shop and host trunk shows twice a month.
"They literally have brand-name jeans for close to half the price," Branham says. "Their angle is that they send someone out that's really good at helping you pick out what jean is right for you and what style and fit for your figure."
The store, located at 1440 S. Tryon St., is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. They'll, of course, be open late on gallery crawl nights. A Friends and Family Night is scheduled for Nov. 17, and the grand opening celebration is slated for early December.
For more information, visit www.blvdatsouthend.com.