Low Country business woman.  Over 30 years in retail merchandising.

An expert seamstress specializing in superior alterations.

Wedding consultant.

Procurement and sales of homecoming, prom, formal, mother-of-the-bride, bridesmaids, and bridal gowns and dresses.  Also, women’s and men’s shoes, men’s suits, and  a variety of unique items.

    ” It began almost 50 years ago when Sheila McQueen and her mom were in Sears on Calhoun, back in the day when there were actually department stores downtown. She put her name in a raffle for a sewing machine, and she won!

     “That’s what started me sewing at 13,” Sheila says.

      Today, mother and daughter are still together, and Shiela is still sewing and running her own shop on the Eastside, the House of Aliehs (Sheila spelled backward). Her little formal wear and alterations shop, which opened last month, is part of the renaissance of stores at Meeting of Columbus that were among the most badly damaged in the infamous night of rioting that followed the terrible murder of George Floyd last year. It is evidence that good has come out of the bad.

       The shop Sheila has created is one of a kind. It is filled with a rainbow of new dresses, for brides and her attendants, for Sweet 16 parties, proms, New Year’s, cocktail dresses. For guys, there are strikingly colorful jackets to make sure you can’t be missed at any party. There are shoes for men and women, fancy hats, jewelry and giftware. Sheila picks out everything herself.

       And, of course, Sheila is still sewing, making custom alterations. She worked much of her life as a tailor, back when black businesses were not the exception downtown, they are today. In the ‘nineties, she ran Alterations by Sheila in North Charleston for eight years and later a bridal shop.

       Today, she is happy to be part of the Eastside. “I love being downtown,” she says.

        Sheila, 61, and her mom, Lorene Wade, are in the shop six days a week. The store is open Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10-5 p.m. You can often see her mom, who turns 90 in December, out front sweeping the sidewalk.

         They are part of a thriving retail complex that CC&T, the big Charleston developer, and landlord, renovated a few years ago (and then repaired after the night of rioting). Other businesses include clothing and shoe retailer A.P.B, Joey Goetz’s new Last Saint cocktail bar, the Metro phone store, UPS, Sherwin Williams and the booming F45 exercise studio. In the back is Oasis, a smoothie and juice bar. The Family Dollar, the most severely damaged store in the riot, is also up and running again. They are all neighborhood shops, oriented to the locals rather than the tourists.

        Sheila, who grew up in Mt. Pleasant and lives in North Charleston with her mom, is a huge fan of the district. “Everybody is so friendly,” she says, recalling how UPS owner Michael Cunningham climbed up on a ladder to help when she had a leak. “We like each other. We want our businesses to grow and stay here.”

     “I like the growth,” she said. “A lot of people are transitioning here. I like it. I like it.”

     — Steve Bailey​ “

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