Pooler Lives Up to its Tagline: Eat, Shop, Play & Stay
Story and photos by Jane Grismer
For many residents, the idea of getting it all done in Pooler seemed more like a dream than a reality. The city, however, has rapidly evolved into a one-stop shop to fulfill its commitment to become a place where you can eat, shop, play and stay.
“Pooler has it all!” Pooler Mayor Rebecca Benton said. “It’s expanding with even more businesses and opportunities for our residents.”
Born and raised in the Pooler area, Benton has witnessed the expansion first hand.
“Our city is progressing—coinciding with new businesses, expanding infrastructure to meet our growing needs. All this while maintaining its small-town feel. We are very proud of where we are as a city.”
The mayor along with the city council work with Pooler government staff to keep it a safe and desirable place to live, work and play.
To another lifelong resident, Dana Noto, the city’s transition has been extraordinary.
“I live and work in Pooler, and the luxury of being able to take care of all of my family’s needs without leaving town was unfathomable just a few short years ago.”
“From groceries to retail to medical care, it’s all here. We used to have to travel into town (Savannah) for everything. I am very proud of where we are now as a community.”
We highlighted some businesses to eat, shop, play and stay.
Miss Sophie’s Marketplace: A Treasure in Itself
Inside Pooler’s local treasure, the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, is Miss Sophie’s Marketplace, a business owned by Teri and Steve Bell. Not only a local favorite for lunch (Tuesday-Friday, 11:00am-2:00pm), the establishment also has a booming catering business for the Greater Pooler area.
With a British pub flair as a nod to the World War II museum’s decor, Miss Sophie’s prepares some of the most iconic Southern entrees (read: comfort food). Customers can select from their full menu with both Southern and British fare or can choose from the hot bar specials that are announced daily on their Facebook page.
We’re approaching (one of) Miss Sophie’s favorite times a year: their holiday catering and very popular to-go holiday meals. The Holiday “Take and Bake” is the tried-and-true option for customers to have dinners already prepared so they can spend more time with their families. Some have been known to bring in their own casserole dishes for Miss Sophie’s to fill—a secret pact between customers and the restaurant.
In business for 16 years, Miss Sophie’s Marketplace has withstood the test of time. During the pandemic lockdown, customers rallied together to keep them afloat.
“We’re so thankful for the support of our Pooler family, especially during the shutdowns. Just when we were sure we would have to close the doors, they adjusted with us and kept supporting us,” Teri Bell said.
“I can’t even describe the generosity of this ‘small town.’ It was so amazing and humbling. Customers, old and new, held us up and forever endeared themselves to Miss Sophie’s. I wouldn’t want to do business anywhere else.”
And for Pooler, Miss Sophie’s Marketplace has certainly become a treasure in itself.
175 Bourne Ave., Pooler
Fleet Feet Pooler: Getting Pooler Moving and on the Map
For nearly 20 years, Fleet Feet has been the local authentic specialty running store. Gauging both the area’s economic impact and the demographic of the store’s growing customer base, Fleet Feet Savannah owner Mike Nadeau identified the need to add a Pooler location.
“Pooler has so much growth and excitement happening that it’s a privilege to serve the community,” Nadeau said. “We’re excited to bring our services to Pooler and help them to get moving.”
The local Fleet Feet stores have been the first stop for runners and walkers to be properly fitted for the correct shoes that align with the body, specialized apparel such as clothing made with high-performance fabric, and properly fitted sports bras for women.
It’s also the hub for training, community and road racing.
The stores in Savannah and Pooler both emphasize the importance of offering training programs at no cost.
“My goal is to get people involved at all levels—whether it’s off the couch or shaving time off of your PR,” Nadeau said. “It’s important to us and that’s why we meet every runner and walker exactly where they are at. Community is the cornerstone of our business.”
With local racing getting back into the groove after an unprecedented past year and a half during the coronavirus pandemic, look no further than the local Fleet Feet community calendar to promise a well-managed racing event in the area. Fleet Feet offers race management to charity organizations and adds those events to their publicized community calendar.
With races just beginning to come onto the Pooler event stage, there’s no telling where running will take this city. Like the pioneer that Fleet Feet Savannah was when it first entered the area in 2002, consider Fleet Feet Pooler to be a stake in the ground, a center for runners and walkers alike, the beginning of a movement. Wish list? Putting Pooler on the national running map.
1702 Pooler Parkway, Unit 103, Pooler
Lavish Hair Salon: Sustainable Success
For Melissa Mast and Whitney Figueroa, co-owners of Lavish Salon, the jump to business ownership in Pooler in 2015 was not only a natural decision but the best they ever made.
While working in Pooler for over 15 years, they were able to see the diversity and rapid growth within the city while connecting to the community and honing their craft. They decided it would be a great place to do business.
They weren’t wrong. Their connections sustained them as they were seamlessly able to transition into business ownership with great success by offering services such as hairstyling, hair color, aesthetics and makeup.
“We have recently added an aesthetics department,” Whitney said. “Our aestheticians provide a wide range of facial services for a variety of skin conditions. We also provide cosmetic services such as brow lamination, lash extension, henna brows and body sugaring, just to name a few.”
Committed to sustainable beauty, they are proud to be a GreenCircle Certified Sustainable Salon, which is a system to thoughtfully and efficiently help recycle beauty waste. They also are a Davines concept salon with a product line of sustainable hair care products.
Besides beauty and sustainability, their passion is for people -- both from the customer perspective and in developing new talent.
“We are committed to elevating the beauty industry. Over the past two years we have implemented an associate program to help grow and educate career-minded stylists while maximizing their earning potential,” Melissa said.
They also have a following of loyal customers that have kept their advertising budget significantly low because of word-of-mouth referrals.
“We’ve had customers that have stayed with us for our entire careers and they send their friends and family,” Melissa said. “Of all the joyful things within our business, this, to me, is a wonderful sign of our success.”
1212 US-80, Pooler, GA
Holiday Inn & Suites Savannah Airport Pooler: The place to stay in Pooler
One of Pooler’s newest hotels, the Holiday Inn Savannah Airport Pooler—located just off of Interstate 95 inside the Tanger Outlets—is a comfortable haven for travelers, corporate dwellers and shoppers alike.
The hotel has become a favorite for corporate stayovers, and this year has become an unofficial headquarters for group holiday shopping excursions with Tanger Outlets just steps away.
“We love seeing how travelers are creating exclusive getaways while utilizing the nearby retail outlet space,” said Sheren Hinton, director of sales and marketing for the hotel.
With a full in-house restaurant and bar with many nearby dining options and just a short ride to the Savannah Hilton Head International Airport, this 104-room jewel is a great place to retreat. The hotel also houses a highly sought-out, 1,330-square-foot meeting space for corporate events and parties.
Dee Muff, General Manager of the Holiday Inn Savannah Airport Pooler, is forecasting a significant increase in room occupancy for the upcoming holiday season.
“We opened our doors to a brand-new hotel about the same time that the world shut down,” Muff said. He also stated that “the upturn of the local economy and recent travel trends in our area is very promising, and we are especially looking forward to the year ahead.”
He also thanks Pooler for helping to pave the way for success in the business sphere.
“Being a member of the Pooler community has created a backbone for our business that became evident during the recent turbulent times—support that we will never forget,” Muff said. “It absolutely pays to do business in Pooler.”
100 Outlet Parkway, Pooler
Bold Soul Boutique: Style and purpose
When you enter the doors of Bold Soul, an independently owned boutique in Tanger Outlets, you will find an eclectic mix of carefully hand-selected apparel items, beautiful accessories and inspirational gifts.
The items in the store are carefully curated with delicate earth tones and a rustic vibe. From the T-shirts to the paper goods, there are positive messages throughout Bold Soul that can almost guarantee to put your mind on the right path.
All of the items in the store serve a purpose. For owner Carrie Rouse, her business was born in 2015 out of a passionate entrepreneurial spirit and a love of affordable fashion and unique finds, while giving back to a greater cause.
“You can leave the store knowing that your shopping bag has a little bit of good for someone in need,” Rouse said.
A portion of the sales from Bold Soul help sponsor educational expenses for almost 20 children who live in Pestel, Haiti, through the non-profit ChurchQuake International. Bold Soul also offers a variety of products that give back to other charities and various causes.
Between purpose and passion, Rouse believes that the success of Bold Soul Boutique is from the exceptional customer relationships that have been cultivated since the store opened. That, and anticipating their customers’ needs.
“Our boutique releases new collections every week to ensure our customers have top-notch selection,” Rouse said. “We offer in-store shopping as well as a weekly Facebook Live sale in addition to our online shopping on our website and the Shop BoldSoul app.”
Whether people shop online or in store, Carrie Rouse is so grateful to have her thriving business in Pooler, Georgia.
“There has been no better community to have a successful business than Pooler—it has been an honor to become a part of it. It’s been an awesome experience to see just how rapidly our city has grown and I’m excited to see where we are headed.”
200 Tanger Outlets Blvd., Unit 717, Pooler