Surcee: A Gift of Love to My Adopted Hometown

A little gift given with great love.

Surcee: A Gift of Love to My Adopted Hometown

By Allan Symonette, Founder

I started Surcee to solve a problem: to make it much easier for shoppers to find great local products and support Greenville’s economy, especially small businesses. You probably know that, but it occurred to me recently that not everyone might know the backstory on how I started Surcee and why we were moved to help solve that problem.  Heck, it occurred to me that some of our most fervent shoppers may not even be aware of the meaning of the word “surcee” and why it’s so crucial to our mission (IYKYK). So, let’s take a moment to catch everyone up.

Surcee is a Southern word on whose exact meaning (and spelling) few can completely agree.  Some think it means a surprise, a token of affection, a present to show you’re thinking of someone or appreciate them.

What we all can agree on is that it is a little gift given with great love.

And, at its core, our story is really a love story, a story of a young man who came to Greenville thirty years ago thinking it would be a blip in his life and career and finding a much deeper connection and sense of purpose.  I’m a Southern boy at heart, born and raised in Florida and educated in Alabama, but I confess that when I took a job here more than 30 years ago I had never even heard of Greenville and didn’t plan on staying for long.

That was before I got to know this city and its people.  The longer I stayed, the more I came to appreciate its kind residents who are so proud of their city, to feel its drive and energy, to experience its passion for embracing growth and change, and its willingness to welcome newcomers while keeping its smalltown Southern roots. It didn’t take long for me to ride the wave of incredibly positive things happening here and to know that “Little Greenville” had big plans for itself and for me.

Over the course of almost 30 years, I had built a thriving career in medical sales, but experiencing the city had become my avocation –frequenting my favorite places, visiting eclectic shops and restaurants, and letting people in on the hidden gems Greenville has to offer.  

Then, COVID hit and changed nearly everything, disrupting every aspect of our lives and threatening the very existence of many of the places I loved the most.  In that moment, I saw an opportunity to give back to the city that had given me so much in a very real and tangible way by encouraging people to shop local and creating a platform for them to do so quickly and easily.  

Our goal was to boost the entrepreneurial spirit on which this city was built to help small businesses find a way to overcome the odds.

When so many people across our city and the country were turning to big box chains and large online shopping sites (I’m not naming names) in droves, it was clear that local businesses needed help connecting with shoppers in a way that was convenient and safe but also one that offered a much-needed sense of fun and engagement, along with a personal touch to help them compete with much larger national retailers.  

Just like that, Surcee was born.  

The concept is simple: Surcee is essentially a hyperlocal version of (okay, I named a name), combining the convenience, ease of use, and breadth of product offerings of Amazon with the ability to discover and buy interesting, different, and often one-of-a-kind local products made, sourced and sold by Green villains.  

Want to shop in your PJs at 3:00 a.m.? Sure. Want to visit 20 local shops without leaving your home? Check. Need help trendspotting and finding the perfect gift or accessory?  We’ve got you. Want to be in the know on sales and smart shopping tips? We’re on it. Need more from your shopping experience than a dress everyone else owns, a credit card bill, and a receipt?  You betcha!

Local merchants pour their hearts and souls into their businesses and worked mightily to overcome recent challenges. Surcee is thrilled to have played small part in keeping local businesses afloat during some difficult times.  We’re proud to continue this mission by helping to promote and shine a light on Greenville-owned businesses and Greenville-made products, while keeping local dollars local.  Smart shoppers know the economic, social, and even environmental benefits of shopping local.  The Surcee Squad, which now includes a group of some of the smartest, hippest, and most talented people around, knows all the cool things Greenville has to offer, and we have worked hard to do the legwork, spot the trends, and curate the products discerning Green villains want. With Surcee, all of that knowledge and access is at your fingertips, any time you want it.  (And, let’s be honest, you know you want it!)

Shop with a purpose.  Show Greenville some love.  Shop Surcee.

So, Surcee is exactly what its name implies:  A gift of love from me to my adopted hometown and my neighbors. My team and I work every day to serve and help local small businesses, to offer a shopping platform that allows us to express our civic pride while emphasizing our distinctive community identity and values.  We’re so blessed to live and work in Greenville, South Carolina. We’re also so glad you’re here, and we invite you to check out what we’ve built on this site and in this city.

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