Eli Brightbill honored his family’s four-generation entrepreneurial tradition when he chose the name Lyons General Store for the business he started in North Carolina four years ago. Now the store, named after one his great-grandfather ran in rural West Virginia, has expanded to a second location at 633 S. Assembly St. in Colombia.
The store is located at the intersection of Assembly and Rosewood Drive, near the State Fairgrounds, on a site that originally housed a McDonald’s and then a used car dealership.
The Lyons General Store, which sells what Brightbill describes as “southern lifestyle clothing,” opened July 7. It carries a wide selection of tops, hats and shoes from popular brands like Simply Southern, Old Row, Drake and Southern Couture. as well as other items, including bags, jewelry, coasters, decorated boxes and lawn flags.
“We’re a retail clothing, gift and accessories store with a big focus on casual wear – that’s really our point,” he said. “Another thing we try to do is work with some regional and local companies wherever we go so that the store has a local bent and offers a little something that you won’t see in a lot of the major retail chains. minority. .
Lyons carries shirts and other apparel from Local Boy Outfitters, which opened in Columbia in 2013. Brightbill said he is also working to bring other Columbia and SC-based brands to the store in the future.
Brightbill is a North Carolina native, born in Raleigh and raised in nearby Sanford. He opened the first Lyons General in Raleigh in 2018, where it is currently located in Crabtree Valley Mall.
“My great-grandfather came from nothing and built his own business and that example inspired many people in my family to be self-employed,” he said. “The decision to open my own store was a little more natural for me than it is for people who don’t have that experience. I’ve always liked the concept of being self-employed.”
Brightbill decided to expand his company about 18 months ago and looked around for a new market within about three hours of Raleigh. Columbia wasn’t initially on his radar, but he heard about the vacant location at Assembly and Rosewood and realized its potential once he visited.
The site has many advantages, he said, including a high-visibility location and a fair amount of free parking available. The store’s proximity to both downtown Columbia and the University of South Carolina also allows easy access for customers from both markets without having to worry about the parking issues that arise downtown or near campus.
College students are the primary consumers for many of the brands Lyon’ General carries, from t-shirts to men’s and women’s shoes and boots from Hey Dude. However, Brightbill said that while most of its merchandise appeals to a younger demographic, students are not its only target market. Outdoor enthusiasts like the store’s selection of Xtratruf boots, he said, while beachgoers can shop the Bogg Bag selection of beach bags and other items.
“We have several colleges and universities in Raleigh and while they are an important part of our business, they don’t make or break us and that’s what we envision here in Columbia,” Brightbill said. “We obviously want to take advantage of the presence of the University of South Carolina as well as other colleges, but we also don’t want to be dependent on that market. There really is no one else in Colombia that makes the mix of products that we offer and we have items that appeal to a wide audience.”
Lyons General Store is open from 10am to 8pm Monday to Saturday.
Reach Christina Lee Knauss at 803-753-4327.