PHOTOS BY CARRIE ALLEN
When your recipe for the perfect small business blends one owner with a distinctly creative side, and one owner with proven business savvy, adding a shop name whose mere meaning evokes a peaceful ambiance is just the perfect finishing touch!
Since 2007, Michelle and Rich Harris have welcomed shoppers – who are now family — to savor the Sweet Grass “experience” at their store in Mooresville, NC. While Rich is a practicing pharmacist (cue the business side), Michelle has a background in interior design, and excels more at the thoughtful pursuits of purchasing and merchandising. The retail venture has allowed both to excel using their best skills, and although Rich may be more “behind the scenes,” he does enjoy spending a good bit of time at the store!
“We greet everyone and make them feel at home right away,” says Michelle, noting that many shoppers simply stop by to say hello. “Most go the self-guided route and browse on their own, but they always know we are here to help with inspiration. For many, it’s a moment to unwind and relax.”
Here’s a perk that customers really love: Sweet Grass keeps an essential notebook with lists of customer favorites – so when a husband comes to shop for his wife, the staff has ideas of what she admired last time she visited, or maybe a special item they already have on order for her. That’s a signature small business touch! Michelle enjoys telling the story of a man who once came by with a map of the inside of the store in his hand – drawn by his wife so he would know exactly where her wished-for gift (she hoped!) could be found!
“We absolutely love our customers, and know they are the reason we’re even here,” says Michelle. Those customers are always on her mind when she’s attending markets, too, and buying for the store. She knows what the “regulars” love and want. Imagine this scenario: You’re on the way to a dinner party – without a hostess gift. Time is short, but you stop by Sweet Grass, find the perfect gift, and let their amazing staff provide gift wrap in one of their signature bags, complete with a card from you. Done!
Gift sales are definitely the store’s largest category – gifts in all shapes and sizes, for every occasion. From birthdays, new babies, and weddings to new homes, whimsical hostess gifts, and hard-to-find gifts for men, the store’s incredible selection, at various price points, always provides excellent choices. Sweet Grass loves focusing on locally owned businesses and enjoys showcasing local vendors whenever possible. Gifts can be personalized (often while you wait) including items such as acrylic frames and party cups, and the store offers local resources for both etching and embroidery. Picture a name or initial artfully etched on wine glasses or a beautiful wooden cutting board, and embroidery or monogramming on a new baby’s keepsake blanket. The staff loves when three-and four-year-old children visit and still have the stuffed toy they received as an infant. Personalized, of course!
“We don’t buy in large quantities, and our inventory and displays are constantly changing,” says Michelle. “If you see something and like it, don’t wait, buy it!” The Sweet Grass team – which averages around ten employees depending on the season – is also proud to tell customers products are selected for the store because they seriously like them!
“Everything – including our gourmet food items – is a personal choice, even the cherries we sell for your trendy old-fashions,” says Michelle. “We believe in what we sell, and we encourage customers to shop local – so the money stays right here.”
Every season deserves its shopping time, and you’ll find fall accessories, including seasonal candles and home fragrances, right up until Thanksgiving. Then Sweet Grass welcomes the holidays! As you’re reading this issue, mark your calendar for the Sweet Grass Holiday Open House Thursday, November 10, from 4:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., where you’ll enjoy a food truck and other local vendors, plus “The Side Bar,” serving a festive signature cocktail. Michelle and Rich are also delighted to bring back monthly events at the store, so follow them on Facebook and Instagram for news of upcoming events.
Sweet Grass is located at 146 Mooresville Commons Way in Mooresville, NC. Reach them (the old-fashioned way!) at 704-663-5878, by text at 704-450-6313, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Store hours are Monday – Friday 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., and Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.