NORTH MYRTLE BEACH
Brad Alexander was semi-retired from his building and design company a couple years ago, so he and a friend were looking to open a business that would fulfill one of their recreational interests: craft beer.
They searched for a suitable vacant building but couldn’t find one.
Alexander’s real estate agent suggested he look for land to build the brew pub, and he came across a property that was much more than he needed, more than 6 acres off Main Street in North Myrtle Beach.
“I’m a person of faith and . . . I literally walked this property probably a dozen times praying about it, deciding if this is what I want to do and if this is going to work, and I feel like the design came to me,” Alexander said. “I designed it in an afternoon and it felt like this is what we’re supposed to do.
“Luckily we were able to get the property and move pretty quickly to get it going.”
What Alexander decided to build is Shops on Main.
The shopping and restaurant complex has 31 tenants in seven cottage-style buildings, totaling 48,000 square feet of store space and more than 200 free parking spaces.
It has a mixture of retail stores, restaurants and services such as nails, chiropractic, real estate, accounting, law, and vacation rentals. Despite coronavirus-related challenges, most of the businesses are open now and all should be open by August.
“I wanted it to be different,” Alexander said. “I didn’t want it to be just another strip center if we went to the more traditional sort of residential styling of it. I wanted to sort of give it that street feel for people to walk around. And we wanted a lot of diversity in here.”
The development is owned by Alexander, his friend and some family members. Lovely Leaf Naturals, which is owned by his son Jeremy and features hemp, CBD and natural skincare products, is the only business owned and operated by a family member.
And the craft beer pub idea that started it all? “We ended up doing this and we had no time for the craft beer,” Alexander said.
That is coming to Shops on Main, however, albeit via other owners who will soon be opening the Main Street Taphouse.
A business community
Each store has front and back doors that lead to another walkway and building, which promotes traffic from business to business.
“I love the cottage feel of it. I love that it’s a small shop-type of place where small businesses can thrive,” said Butter & Whisk owner Lindsey Rollings, who operated a home bakery with classes for four years before opening at Shops on Main in October. “We have a great community. We’re trying to rejuvenate Main Street and get more people down here.”
Shops on Main has an atmosphere of cooperation among its tenants, who have already combined forces for events. All of the business owners are connected through an email network. “We consider all of [the tenants] family,” Alexander said. “We encourage all the businesses to cross-market between them and so far they’ve done a great job doing that.”
Rollings helped organize an Easter event complete with an Easter bunny mascot and children’s egg hunt featuring eggs hidden in most of the stores, including one with a $300 shopping spree ticket inside.
“It is a huge family here,” Rollings said. “Brad and his wife are amazing. They created that atmosphere and we’re just trying to carry it out. We all kind of depend on each other.”
Dirty Don’s Oyster Bar & Grill and Whit’s Frozen Custard are open, and other eateries opening in the near future are Odori’s Japanese Steakhouse, an Italian deli and the taphouse.
“We have a good variety [of restaurants] that is going to provide a lot of traffic for all the rest of the tenants,” Alexander said.
Some of the businesses offer classes, activities and experiences for residents and customers.
Butter & Whisk has a bake studio with workshops and summer kids bake camps.
Board & Brush Creative Studios is a do-it-yourself woodworking studio that is BYOB.
Wine and Design allows you to create art while drinking wine.
Wine Therapy Tasting Room & Shoppe features charcuterie and cheese boards, hummus and deserts to go with its wines.
Stretch Zone has stretching classes, and the North Myrtle Beach School of Performing Arts studio offers classes in recreational and competitive dance and tumbling. Gallery on Main has glass artwork classes.
The complex has some unique businesses, including boutique shops and a bakery that produces food for pets called Kelly’s K-9 Kitchen.
“We have a lot of creative stuff going on in here,” Alexander said.
Building the complex
Construction began in October 2019. Alexander said the onset of the coronavirus pandemic dropped his committed tenants from 90% full to 30%. “We just kept building, trusting that things would work out, and it has,” he said. Just one unit remains unclaimed and there is a deposit down on that.
Buildings were ready for tenants last summer, and several moved in, including Dirty Don’s.
As a builder, Alexander has been constructing the interior of the units to tenants’ specifications with a crew that includes his son Anthony.
Alexander’s commercial construction company based in the North Myrtle Beach area is Majestic Vision Properties Inc., which built the Majestic Business Center commercial plaza in NMB that includes his office, Dew’s Appliances and Napa Auto Parts among other businesses.
“We’re pretty much doing the upfits at cost to help tenants get in at a reasonable rate,” Alexander said.
He said he also offered lease breaks and deferments to help tenants and the complex weather COVID-19. Leases are between $22 and $28 per square foot, he said, depending on the location in the complex.
“We just had faith, kind of ‘Field of Dreams’ — if you build it they will come,” said Alexander, who is a member of the Surf Golf and Beach Club. “. . . Once [the buildings] started going up people started coming from everywhere. Then it was just a matter of working with them on some rent structures that would work to help get through COVID, doing some things to help them get going.”
Alexander said he improved the overall drainage in the neighborhood by building a new outfall that reaches the oceanfront for the lake between the complex and residential area to its south. He said he met with homeowners to explain the project and alleviate their concerns.
“We did a lot of upgrades to the property to make sure it was going to be good for the community,” he said. “We’re very proud of what we’ve created here. It was certainly a vision to improve North Myrtle Beach, improve the look of Main Street, to provide some spaces for mom and pop-style businesses to come in and succeed with each other.”
Shops on Main tenants
Retail/Classes and Experiences
Butter & Whisk
Board & Brush Creative Studio
Wine and Design
Wine Therapy Tasting Room & Shoppe
NMB School of Performing Arts
Kelly’s K-9 Kitchen
Strand Olive Oil
Brawner Art Gallery
Gallery on Main
Name Brand Shoes
M.J. Bridal Collection
Sweet Home Carolina (gifts/clothing)
Lovely Leaf Naturals
Nails On Main
Move Mountains Chiropractic
Carolina Resort Vacations
Next Home Realty
Peace Sotheby’s International Realty
Jebaily Law Firm
Dirty Don’s Oyster Bar
Odori Japanese Steakhouse
Whit’s Frozen Custard
Main Street Taphouse
Italian deli (name TBA)
* One other business TBA