- by Anna Culver
Olive's Mud Puddle, a place to paint, sip, sculpt and shop on Main St.
Updated: Dec 2, 2020
If you picture downtown Fort Mill, you automatically picture Olive's Mud Puddle, as it has been on Main Street for seven years now. Whether it's your coffee shop or a place to simply lounge, it's also a unique art studio that offers Paint n’ Sip nights, clay sculpture classes, Music Bingo, and a space to comfortably work and meet. Bonus -- they serve beer and wine and sell local baked goods, frozen treats, and sweets.
It's one of those places that exudes personality and charm, and it's clear that Owner Debbie Whitsett pours her heart and soul into the crafty establishment.
We sat down with Debbie to learn about her background and how she came to open her shop on Main Street.
Q: You've been on Main Street for seven years. What does that mean to you?
A: I have been privileged to watch this sleepy little street turn into a destination, with all my new neighbors and the older ones earning recognition. I am very proud to be here in the center of this great town!
Q: What's special about being located on Fort Mill's Main Street?
A: Well, it’s easy to give directions to my shop, that’s one thing! But seriously, I think Fort Mill has a lot of history and being here makes me feel like I’m a part of it. I love the feel of the street, the barbershop, the old bank building, all the historic buildings are worth seeing and if I can help people make their way down town to experience it, that’s a plus!
Q: I recall you first opened your studio in Lancaster. What inspired you to open Olive's Mud Puddle in the first place, and why move to Fort Mill?
A: My husband and I moved to Fort Mill in 2012. We had downsized from our house in Charlotte, and there was no room for my studio.
I was taking my husband to work one day and saw that little building in the curve on Barberville Road for rent. The building was small, but big enough for my studio equipment. There were a few students who followed me there for weekly classes, so I made it a full-fledged business and just went with it!
My eyes were on Main Street the whole time - it is only 1/2 mile from my house.
When my lease was up on Barberville Road, the Vintage Wear store was moving and 229 was open to lease! So it was a smooth move to Main Street.
Q: How did you come up with the name Olive's Mud Puddle?
A: I had a Duck named Olive, and when we moved to Fort Mill, I knew she would not be happy without her friends (I got permission to only have one duck in the city). So I surrendered her to the Waterfowl Rescue, and they found her and her friend a home. She had the most personality, and loved the mud, so we became Olive’s Mud Puddle to commemorate Olive!
Q: What do you look forward to at the studio every day?
A: I look forward to seeing other people enjoying and discovering the arts.
We not only celebrate visual art, but pre-COVID we offered Open Mic Night to provide a place for young and old musicians to perform. The culinary art shows in our special locally roasted coffee by Hex of Charlotte. It's just all about being creative and getting lost in it.
Q: What's your favorite thing about being a small business owner in Fort Mill?
A: I like getting to know the other shop owners and being a part of the Main Street Family. Fort Mill has helped particularly this year with our curbside pick up signs, the Farmers Market, and having the popular Scarecrow crawl once again. All of those things helped bring foot traffic, which we really need during this trying time.
Q: What challenges have you faced that have helped Olive's or yourself evolve?
A: When I moved to Main Street, there was no foot traffic at all. It was a real struggle to get people to even know where Main Street was, much less get them to step foot in my door.
It evolved by people... people who heard about classes, about art exhibits, about musicians who played at the exhibits. Years of not giving up, hanging in there and keep doing what you love to do. Listening to people say we need a coffee shop on Main Street.... Here ya go - a coffee shop! My brother opened the coffee shop in 2016 and sold it to me in 2018. Q: What makes Olive's stand out from other local coffee shops?
A: The Art, Studio, great local coffee and local baked goods. Although during these times, it looks confusing as you walk in and see the working tables up front (due to social distancing in the pottery wheel room), but we are still a place where you can find a one of a kind gift, buy a coffee and sit to enjoy art in a warm atmosphere with a friend or two. Also, watching people create or creating something yourself, where can you do that around here?
Q: What type of businesses would you like to see come to Main Street?
A: It would be great to see another retail business to help make it a destination for more shoppers. Q: Describe Olive's in 5 words or less.
A: Create - caffeinate - see - do - art.
Olive's Mud Puddle
229 Main St, Fort Mill, SC 29715