Since the 1950s, Charleston brides have been stepping across the elegant threshold of The Boutique, a high-end downtown retail destination, to set up their bridal registries. Fine china, linens, sleepwear, pretty gifts—if it’s something a lady of taste would want in her home, you can find it in The Boutique.
Although the store’s been in business for more than 60 years, it’s been in the hands of its current owner, Lois Daughtridge, for the past year and a half. Before buying The Boutique, Daughtridge worked at the store for a couple of years. “Then the previous owner and I were ready for a role switch,” she says with a laugh. “I bought it from her, and she still works here.”
Daughtridge’s background is in advertising and PR, although she’s also worked in interior design and retail. And while she’s not a Charlestonian by birth, she’s lived here for more than 20 years. “I fell in love with the city,” she says. “I walk to work, walk to church. I’m very blessed.”
That love of Charleston, combined with her career experience, has made owning The Boutique a perfect fit for both her talent and tastes. Most of the brides who come to The Boutique are local—and many of their mothers and grandmothers shopped at the store, as well. “We have a lot of old Charleston families,” Daughtridge says. “I love working with them.”
Daughtridge and her staff work with those brides very closely. Bridal registries are mainly done in person, by appointment, so that the bride can have all the personal attention she likes (although the store also offers an online registry). “Some brides come in knowing exactly what they want, and some don’t have any idea,” Daughtridge says. “We can help them no matter what. Sometimes it takes an hour, sometimes three hours.”
It’s this impeccable, attentive service that sets The Boutique apart from other stores. “I could not do it without my team,”
Daughtridge says. “I have 11 employees, and I inherited almost all of them. I think that’s what my brides love about coming here. Just the other day I had one say to me, ‘No one has the service you have.’”
After the brides have finished, they get their picture taken with the store’s fluffy mascot, Daughtridge’s West Highland white terrier, Ivy. “That’s become our little tradition,” Daughtridge says. “We post the pictures on Facebook and Instagram, and the brides really enjoy it.”
But perhaps even more than cuddling Ivy, the brides love the selection that The Boutique has to offer. The store carries many lines, some exclusive. Fine china includes Anna Weatherley, Royal Crown Derby, Arte Italica, Haviland and Raynaud, among many others.
Daughtridge also stocks everyday items, such as serving platters, cookware and bakeware. “We offer quality merchandise at many price points,” she says.
The bedding department is the second most popular for Daughtridge’s brides. Like the rest of the store, this area features perfectly detailed displays. Beneath shelves filled with fluffy towels and soft sheets, there’s a bed beautifully made with a set of custom sheets by Matouk. “They’re able to be monogrammed and customized down to the tiniest detail,” Daughtridge says.
The Boutique bridal registry mostly works on the “gift card” system, with guests purchasing gift certificates in the amount of the item they’d like. That way, brides can come in after the wedding and choose what they really need, instead of, say, being forced to accept 12 dinner plates and two soup bowls.
Of course, you don’t have to be a bride to shop at The Boutique. Anyone can come in to purchase china, linens or bedding, or the occasional hostess, birthday or baby present.
The store offers items with a local provenance, as well. “We have lots of work by local artists,” Daughtridge says. Among them: a coffee-table book of photographs by Jack Alterman and scarves by local doctor and artist Richard “Duke” Hagerty.
Daughtridge is most appreciative of her customers. “Everyone who comes here is here for something joyful,” she says. “That’s what I love about it.”
Elizabeth Pandolfi is a writer and editor living in Charleston.