Landrum’s Designing Women

Published 4:51 pm Thursday, December 28, 2017

It’s not very often a person’s dream walks in the door, but it happened twice for Kim Karaman, owner of the Shops at Landrum Antique Mall. Karaman and her husband, Mike Karaman, bought the old antique mall in 1999.

Karaman thought she was simply buying real estate, but in January 2017, fate walked through the door in the form of designer Ginny Ezell. Ezell said she was looking for a place to expand her current design business, Regeneration Interiors.

“I had heard people talk about Landrum,” said Ezell. “They said it was quaint, cute and charming.”

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However, when Ezell first walked into the Shops of Landrum in January of 2017, manager Casey Gillespie didn’t realize Karaman was thinking of opening a design business. “She [Gillespie] said they didn’t have any space to rent,” Ezell said.

The mall was full of antiques at the time. Long time dealer, Doug Morgan, rents most of one side under the name “The Thrill of The Hunt” which features horse and fox hunting themed antiques.

Sandy Burn, owner of Olive and Then Some out of Spartanburg, rents a space in the front of the mall to sell premium olive oils and vinegars from around the world. Another dealer, Colleen Bircher, rents enough space to sell estate jewelry and a mixture of small accessories.

In the center of the mall is High Cotton Mercantile owned by Karaman, but mostly rented out to Charlotte Hall, who has had a booth at the Shops of Landrum for 27 years. Karaman describes High Cotton Mercantile as a boutique that sells small gifts, jewelry, collegiate clothing, accessories, and seasonal items such as beach towels, hats, tote bags or scarves. “Its grab and go type stuff,” she said.

According to Karaman, Hall and Morgan have been the backbone of the mall. During the years when Karaman and her husband still lived in Ohio and had to travel to Landrum, Hall and Morgan helped run the business.

When Karaman and her husband originally purchased the mall it had 50 dealers renting booths. Her idea was that she would simply, “. . . open the door, collect rent and sell the  stuff.” However, she soon realized she would need to use the retail experience she gained while in college, and become more involved.

“We liked to buy real estate,” Karaman said about her and her husband. “I had to figure out how to run an antique mall in order to know what was happening with the property. After I got involved I realized we needed to sell more than just antiques.”

That was when she started thinking of a design business. Karaman realized that a lot of women from Greenville and Spartanburg were coming to Landrum to spend the day with their friends and shop. After observing the clientele, Karaman decided the mall needed a few changes. First she remodeled the outside, basically dividing the old theater building into three main stores. Second, she decided along with the antiques, she needed to add new furniture, reproductions and complementary items to go with the house furnishings.

Karaman happened to mention to Gillespie that she was thinking of starting a design business when Gillespie remembered Ezell stopping in.

“She [Karaman] said to Casey, ‘Get her back here,’” Ezell said. “Kim’s been looking to do this [interior design] for the past 10 years.”

At first the two women agreed that Ezell would rent 1,000 square feet of space and run a basic interior design business helping people chose colors and order furnishings. However, the more they got to know each other, the more they realized they had common goals and interests for the business.

It was then Susan Johnson walked in the door looking for something to do. Johnson had retired from an interior design business in Florida and moved to Landrum. She was looking for something she would enjoy doing and found Karaman and Ezell. The 1,000 square foot space soon expanded into a full service interior design business.

The store, now named Fresh Décor, holds beautiful, tasteful furniture and accessories for every room in the house. Clients can stop in and talk with one of Fresh Décor’s qualified designers to get help in choosing everything from bed linens and table top items to curtains and dishware.

Ezell divides her time between Landrum and Spartanburg where the parent store, Regeneration Interiors, is located. Ezell grew up in the furniture business in Hickory and opened her Spartanburg store in 2010. She said she always wanted to have a design business based on sourcing “green” and locally made items.

“We’re trying to help reduce the carbon footprint,” she said, explaining that most of the items are made from sustainable practices. According to Ezell, all the wood items are either reclaimed or recycled or from sustainable forestry practices. The metal items are all from recycled material and they have a line of bedding and upholstery that is 100 percent organic cotton.

Fresh Décor opened in July of 2017 on E. Rutherford St. Clients can talk with one of their knowledgeable designers Monday through Saturday. For more information visit •

Catherine Hunter’s journalism career spans 20 years of writing for newspapers and magazines, including The Chronicle of the Horse, The Western Horseman, the Tryon Daily Bulletin and Foothills Magazine. In 2000, Hunter received a South Carolina Press Association award for reporting in depth. She is the author of “Sacred Connections Horsemanship: Empowering Horse and Rider through Chakra Energy.” Email her at