Ashley DesMarteau: Black Mingo Outfitters Up Front

  • Friday, March 7, 2014

With the promise of spring in the air, I think we all agree there is something magical in this place we are blessed to call our home; the creeks teeming with life becoming a changing canvas with every tide, the rivers offering year ‘round sporting and fishing, and the swamp forests alive with seasonal migrations of birds, snakes and gators slithering along. It’s not surprising that many of us have fallen for the beauty of the Lowcountry season. Just a few years ago Tee and Rhodes Miller were entrenched in their lives in Washington, D.C. but were both dreaming of an escape to the perfect place to start a family and put down some roots. Rhodes fondly recalls those perfect visits down to Georgetown “grabbing sandwiches at Kudzu and then heading out in the boat all day.“ Those relaxing weekends seduced the Millers to head south, and to make Georgetown their home.

Until just a few months ago, the Millers were owners of Black Mingo Outfitters and its sister store, Goudelocks and Company. But from across the street, they consoled each other and watched helplessly as the Front Street fire consumed whole buildings before their eyes. As it made its way up the street, the fear was that it would continue all the way to the Town Clock, taking both of their buildings which also included apartment space upstairs. It was a long day, and even longer week waiting to assess damage to the one remaining building of theirs. Miraculously Black Mingo Outfitters is a bookend along with the South Carolina Maritime Museum who both received damage — mostly smoke and water — but they’re still standing, and both were open for business within weeks of the fire.

Black Mingo Outfitters has rallied and continues to be a premier outfitter on Front Street with lines like Patagonia, Filson, Simms, Beretta and Mountain Khaki. Stylish, comfortable and durable clothes that have an outdoorsman appeal. With Goudelocks and Company gone, Rhodes now spends most of her time managing the store and is working on adding to the women’s wear selections. She notes that Front Street has some wonderful boutiques for women already, and she is hoping to provide something completely different from what is already available.

“Casual and comfortable active wear” in the lines they already carry like Ex Officio, Lole and Patagonia will give their customers some options for light and comfortable apparel for spring and summer. She is looking forward to expanding the store in the future and integrating some of her favorite lines from Goudelocks & Co. like the famous McCarty pottery crafted in her home state of Mississippi.

It’s a family affair at Black Ming; store mascot, Beulah, a 4-month-old chocolate Lab will melt your heart as she welcomes you to the store and just as the owners do, makes you feel like you’re the most special customer. Tee, a Greenville native and Rhodes, from the small Mississippi delta town of Cleveland have not only made an impression on Front Street with their stylish stores, but both are involved in the community. They are dedicated volunteers supporting small business owner’s efforts on Front Street, the Georgetown School of Arts & Sciences, Winyah Bay Sailing Club and SCMM where Tee serves on the board.

Pack a little dog biscuit for Beaulah and head on down to Black Mingo Outfitters at 709 Front Street. Make it your business to keep it local.

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