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Jennifer - The Artware Lady
Artisan Gifts & Souvenirs With Soul: ArtWare

ArtWare, Jennifer Megliore

Title / Role: Owner, Jennifer Megliore
Location: Hilton Head Island , South Carolina
Formed in: 2000
My successes.

ArtWare was a brand-new start-up in 2000.

ArtWare, a vibrant art retailer, opened for business on Main Street, and we were off and running.  By 2004, ArtWare was the Hilton Head Island Chamber Small Business of the Year!  

In November 2014, ArtWare opened at a new location in Shelter Cove Towne Centre. As a wise retailer once told me, “You’ll spend money either on ads to get people to you or on the rent being where the people are.” That was solid advice that confirmed that Shelter Cove Towne Centre was the right place for growth. Making that move more than doubled our income. 

Early in 2023, I was named by the SBA as the 2023 State Small Business Person of the Year for South Carolina. 

SCORE was important in starting and growing ArtWare. My first SCORE mentor, Frank Chapman, was a retail wizard!  He said, “You are going to want to go overboard on packaging. Just keep it simple.” That was solid advice because I see stores adding $1 or more to every sale at the checkout counter. In the beginning, I was very dependent on this advice for my decisions.

As ArtWare grew in popularity, I took advantage of operating the ‘Boat-Tique’ store in the parking lot of Hudson’s for 9 months out of the year. With sales outpacing ArtWare in the peak months, I realized I had the right products. I just had my main location in the wrong place. I needed to be in front of more people.

Luckily, I had been watching the former Mall at Shelter Cove be redesigned. I knew that was my next step and I put in a Letter of Intent on the 4th of July weekend 2014. Again, turning to SCORE, I immersed myself in learning about budget creation and build-out construction.

When Hurricane Mathew demolished the ‘Boat-Tique’, there were hours available for all those employees, and I could match the hours of the Kilwin’s Ice Cream store next to us. “Be open with the right product, at the right price, at the times they want you there.” That’s what Frank advised.

What do you do?

ArtWare has Artisan gifts & souvenirs with soul

I think of ArtWare Coastal as artisan souvenirs. Functional art pieces are ones that earn their place in your life. We’re a vibrant art retailer in the middle of Shelter Cove Towne Centre. What sets ArtWare apart are product assortment, service, and enthusiasm.

I hear every day, “I don’t see the products you have in other places.” If you’re not going to be different in retail, don’t bother. Also, our prices are really good at  ArtWare. It’s only fun if you can afford to buy something you like.

Our service level is impressive. It sounds rudimentary, but every customer gets greeted, and later, thanked for coming in to visit. We are very upbeat at  ArtWare. Life can be challenging, so we provide fun gifts that make people laugh aloud. The best compliment we receive is laughter.

What inspired you to start your business?

ArtWare: A Gallery Art Store

Being an artistic person, I wanted a store where I could help artists meet their buyers. I wished for all the fun of an art gallery gift store in a retail environment. I moved to Hilton Head to be a corporate special event planner for MCI’s Top 500 Clients. Tennis, Golf, Racing. I went everywhere in the country the amazing events took me. I heard Ray Charles rehearse forty (40) feet from where I was hanging paper lanterns from the ceiling of the Greenbriar Ballroom. 

During my 10 years with MCI, I dreamed of opening a retail store. After being a ‘road warrior,’ I thought having a home base may make for a more harmonic home life. I had a college background in Design and Merchandising, but if I was going to do this right, I was going to need lots of help. So, I contacted SCORE and I opened ArtWare on November 20th, 2000. I owe my success to SCORE.

What influenced you to seek help from SCORE?

Through my BA in Merchandising, SCORE was taught as a business resource. Starting to talk with SCORE while I was still involved with MCI Special Events gave me hope and new goals.

How SCORE helped.

In the planning stages of ArtWare, I needed advice about location, negotiating a lease for the first time, and the retail metrics of product assortment. Those first meetings were at the SCORE office, where Frank Chapman (my mentor) could easily reach for a book or article I needed to read. 

SCORE was my guiding light with Frank Chapman as my primary mentor. He introduced me to Paul Kopelczek, a co-mentor.

Frank didn’t care for my first location, but I wanted a small business I could run mostly on my own. ArtWare opened in 2000 at its initial location on Main Street. As I got ArtWare up and running, Frank and Paul both enjoyed seeing the store in person.  Meeting there, they could see the merchandise as customers did. As Frank took off the training wheels, I grew in confidence. 

During the Covid pandemic, I reached out to SCORE and was paired with mentor John Ferrara, the 2019 SCORE SC Lowcountry mentor of the year. He was instrumental in helping me navigate through unique challenges due to the pandemic, including finding available loan options. Ferrara also helped develop appropriate pricing formulas to streamline my overall operation.

“John was wonderful, and so generous with his time,” she said. “To have someone who has lived this corporate life and share that advice is really valuable.”  

As I moved into modern technology, such as our Artisan Point-of-Sale system, I brought Frank up to speed about the capabilities, so he could share that with other SCORE clients.

I bought my own book on retail sales, The WhizBang Retail Mastery System. After I had absorbed these lessons, I donated them to SCORE so they could help others.


What's great about my mentor?

Frank Chapman was my ‘Retail Angel.’ He gave me the sacred blue folder which contained all the retail formulas I would need to make great decisions. He distilled 4 years of college into that blue folder. He poured 35 years of Woolworth’s experience into me and my business. If you have 1,200 sq. feet, and you need to make X, you’ll need to see X amount of people, spending an average of X dollars per sale. What are you going to put on the shelves to turn over six (6) or more times?

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a small business?

Contact SCORE! Get started!

With the advent of Zoom, you can meet with SCORE as you drive to work, or on your lunch break. There has never been a better time to take a calculated risk on your dreams than now. Thanks to the SBA, there is unprecedented help for women, minorities, veterans, and rural outreach. South Carolina has 77 Business incentives. Only two states have more.  Now is the time to take your dreams for a test drive.

What really impresses me about all the fantastic SCORE volunteers is their guidance and wisdom. In a well-deserved retirement, these men and women could be golfing, sailing, or playing with grandchildren. Instead, they are giving something very precious: their free time! When a senior dies, a library burns. What a gift to invest that experience into someone. I understand my assignment is to pay that knowledge forward because to lift someone else, truly lifts us all.

If I had to assign value to all the love and knowledge SCORE and its volunteers have poured into  ArtWare, I COULD NOT AFFORD THE BILL!  My experience with SCORE has been invaluable.

Additional media
SBA State Small Business Person of the Year 2023
Artware Store
1 Chamber of Commerce Dr
Hilton Head Island, SC 29938
(843) 785-7107

Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association,

Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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