When Mary Gatch first moved to Charleston, she started getting sick. Sinus infections, frequent colds, and irregular breathing plagued Gatch and her children, so much so that she began to get suspicious. The family was living in a rental at the beach while their new home was under construction. "I knew the house was causing our sicknesses," she says. Using mold-testing kits, her suspicions were confirmed. "The mattresses screamed mold," she says.
As they prepared to move into the new house, Gatch was determined to find clean living products. "So I did tons of research to try and find products that didn't have formaldehyde, and it hit me that I could bring together my environmental interest with healthy-living building." One of her missions is to help others trust the products in their homes.
DwellSmart (804 Meeting St. 843-805-7055), a sustainable living retail store, is the result of that epiphany. With 300 different vendors, the list of products at the store is vast, and shoppers can spend hours perusing everything from the popular and adorable Lunchskins reusable sandwich bags to a composting toilet. The variety within the store is vast, and each corner offers another great find. Furniture, pet products, clothing, toys, energy-efficient products, accessories, and books are just a few of the items available.
After years in Mt. Pleasant, Gatch and store manager Nanette Lourie recently decided to expand into the 14,000 square-foot space downtown. Before moving in, the building was remodeled to make it as green as possible. Circular solar panels and LED lights are used throughout the showroom, and the formerly carpeted floor is covered in a blue-gray "marmoleum," a renewal resource flooring made of pine resin, linseed oil, and crushed limestone.
The majority of DwellSmart's business actually comes from the website, and they ship to customers all over the world. Gatch worked in technology before relocating to Charleston, and her expertise is evident in the user-friendly website offering information on building and remodeling, cleaning, home and garden, and gift ideas.
After shopping for her first time at the store, customer Jennifer Rowley says, "Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the magnitude of environmental challenges that I shut down. But here, I know I can incorporate little changes into my life. I can buy one thing, a sandwich cloth or a journal, and make choices with my dollar. If we all were making these small choices, we could make a big difference."