Photo by Collin Richie.

Susan Charlet and her family are leading a retail renaissance in St. Francisville

Stroll through the stylish showroom to find custom furniture, fine interiors and luxe wedding gifts. Next door, explore fashion-forward looks at men’s and women’s clothing boutiques under one roof. A few steps away, tour the new events center with room for a thousand guests, and spot the forthcoming boutique hotel with meticulously designed interiors.

Feel like you’ve landed in a mini-version of Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Market? Nope, it’s North Commerce: a 4-acre complex in St. Francisville reimagined by Susan and Don Charlet.

Best known for their interiors store The Corbel, the Charlets have spent the last three years breathing new life into a formerly defunct parcel in the community’s historic downtown. It’s part of a larger movement that has seen entrepreneurs opening exciting concepts in the preservation-conscious community, but few have done it with the couple’s gusto. Situated on Commerce Street, the project is helping turn the beloved small town from quaint to sophisticated.

“We moved here three years ago,” says Susan, 54, a Zachary native. “And we knew we wanted to move The Corbel here.”

Founded 20 years ago on Highway 61 in Jackson, The Corbel is known nationally for speciality and architectural salvage interiors. Now headquartered in a 10,000-square-foot storefront across from the St. Francisville Inn, the store is a trove of custom furnishings and eclectic home goods. It’s adjacent to another of Susan’s projects, the men’s and women’s clothing boutiques, Barlow Fashion and Deyo Supply Company, which opened in late 2022.

When the Charlets purchased the Commerce Street parcel a few years ago, Susan says they didn’t have a fixed vision for how to develop it. But adding an events center to a community that attracts weddings seemed like a good idea. The Mallory, their chic-rustic reception hall, debuted late last year. It’s named for the couple’s daughter, whose wedding was its first event. Completing that project took patience since it meant cleaning up a “dump yard,” remediating soil and building a retaining wall, Susan says.

Soon to open in the development is another Charlet brainchild: the elegant Hotel Toussaint. The eight-room inn will be outfitted in shoppable fine interiors and linens. The hotel will partner with the St. Francisville Inn across the street for meals and spa services.

Fueled by the Charlets’ efforts, other new businesses on the block are also underway, including a pizzeria and brew pub. The complex will be linked with pedestrian pathways and landscaping.

“It’ll all be connected,” she says. “The timing for the community is amazing. There’s so much going on.”

This article originally appeared in the January issue of 225 magazine.