When Bohemian Home closes its doors at the end of August, Columbia shoppers will lose a source for one-of-a-kind furniture and artwork, and Devine Street will lose one of its legacy businesses.
Owners Bruce Schultze and Denise Cellier announced earlier this year they would be closing their doors after 48 years, and the store’s time is growing short.
Located in Shandon at 2720 Devine St, Bohemian Home has gained a wide following over the past half-century by specializing in eclectic furniture, artwork, home décor, clothing and accessories that were not available anywhere else in the Midlands of South Carolina – or in most other places, for that matter.
The Bohemian was a women’s clothing and ceramics store when it first opened in 1974, and Schultze bought it from the original owners shortly after. Since then, he has kept the store filled with items that he and Cellier have lovingly curated, selecting inventory that spoke to them.
The prospect of having to sign a new long-term lease at a higher rent, however, drove the partners to decide to close, although Schultze said there were other factors that played into the decision. At 73, he acknowledges that age and health are part of the mix, but not the main reason for closing.
“It’s a lot of factors – rents going up, availability of items, supply chain problems and government red tape,” Schultze said in between waiting on customers and answering the phone on a recent afternoon. “Running the store was fun for a lot of years, but the fun has kind of gone out of it in a lot of ways. I hate it that we’re closing because I love what I do and I always have embraced the fun of owning a business and the fun of self-employment.”
Meeting the higher rent would have meant renovating the store to bring in more furniture, leaving less space for the smaller vintage and handmade items that contributed to the store’s eclectic flair, he said.
Selling unusual, hand-picked items that often come with a high price tag meant Bohemian Home’s offerings did not appeal to shoppers used to more standard, mass-market fare. Schultze said some inventory has waited 30 years for the right customer to walk in.
That, he said, has been part of the fun.
“Everybody loved this store because we had things you couldn’t find anywhere else,” he said. “People came here when they wanted something different, something high-quality and hand-crafted.”
Schultze said the original Bohemian store was in West Columbia for a year before moving to Devine Street under the original owners, and its early focus on fashion made it one of the first shops to feature apparel on a street that has now become a corridor for higher-end boutiques. The focus on furniture emerged gradually over the years because Schultze and Cellier enjoyed that market more.
A sister store called Bohemian Columbia focused exclusively on women’s clothing and operated on Saluda Avenue in Five Points for several years before closing in 2018.
The owners have been working on selling off their large inventory since the spring and recently launched the first storewide sale in Bohemian Home’s history. The showroom is still full of the high-end chairs, recliners and other furniture that have been the store’s bread and butter, as well as a wide variety of artwork, clocks, lamps, candles, jewelry and more.
Once the final sale has been rung up, Schulze says he will spend time at the Columbia house where he has lived for the past 50 years catching up on renovations and repairs.
Bohemian Home’s going out of business sale will last through the end of August.