When Terrace Oaks became the first antique mall to open in the Charleston area, Camille Wish was one of the original dealers to rent space. That was back in November of 1988. The mall has had three owners – Joanne Parker, Linda Leatherwood and Wish. The integrity of the mall has been kept intact; they have quality antiques and no flea market type booths. Merchandise is arranged nicely and neatly.
“Customers often comment on how pleasant it is to come to a true antique mall. Many have said that Terrace Oaks should have been their first stop,” Wish said proudly.
Terrace Oaks has 10,000 square feet housing more than 90 booths. Dealers have a wonderfully wide variety – everything from Columbian and Indian artifacts to American and European furniture, estate jewelry, sterling, Victorian silverplate, transferware, majolica, oyster plates, fishing and military items. There is a wonderful array of books, engravings, lithographs and original art.
The staff is very knowledgeable; several dealers have been in the business and in the mall for 15 years and longer. They are very friendly and customer oriented and greet customers with a smile. There are refreshments for customers on the counter. The staff is helpful without being intrusive … offering to help find an item, open showcases and carry purchases back to the counter.
Wish started in the business in 1980, part time, setting up at a monthly show in Charleston. In 1991, she quit her “real” job and dove into the antique business full time. She traveled and set up at shows as well as rented space in Terrace Oaks and a couple of other malls. In 2005, Wish purchased Terrace Oaks from Linda Leatherwood and is very happy that she did. “It is a lot more work, but I just love it,” she says.
Mall clientele varies. They have a local following that includes collectors as well as designers and decorators. Charleston is home to lots of folks who have a second residence here – so the business gets a lot of traffic from people who are visiting. They also do business with movie and film productions that come to the area. Wish said, “We have worked with Warner Brothers on several occasions and are now working with the Lifetime series Army Wives.”
Wish has seen many changes in the antiques industry over the past 20 years. She says the two major changes are the computer and the Internet.
“I believe Internet sales are very viable and important, but there are still folks who would prefer to touch, see, and smell the objects. And, besides, the people who sell on the Internet have to purchase their merchandise somewhere!” Wish says.
“I hope this gives you an idea of how much I love what I do and how proud I am of Terrace Oaks. God has blessed me in so many ways and I am truly thankful,” Wish said.
Terrace Oaks has recently been mentioned in Martha Stewart Living and in the New York Times as one of the places to shop while in Charleston.