The Shops at Sea Pines Center
Author: Frank Dunne, Jr. | Photographer: David Mulvaney
Palmettoes. Truffles Café. Forsythe Jewelers. Le Spa. Iconic names on Hilton Head Island, all of them, and for over a quarter century they’ve been drawing shoppers, diners, and those seeking a little rejuvenation to an iconic-in-its-own-right location in the heart of Sea Pines Plantation, The Shops at Sea Pines Center.
Iconic? Sea Pines? Hilton Head Island? Isn’t that supposed to conjure up images of a candy-striped lighthouse, beaches, the RBC Heritage and a Portofino inspired harbor? Well, yes…to a certain extent. No one will deny that those are some of the most enduring—and endearing—pictures that proclaim Hilton Head Island to the rest of the world. But wouldn’t it be a disservice to Sea Pines, and the island at large, to suggest that nothing else lies behind those images? Mind you, one cannot get to Harbour Town without passing The Shops at Sea Pines Center on Lighthouse Road just off the Fraser Circle, and there has always been plenty of reason to stop off there, or double back and pay a visit.
Now there is more reason than ever, and not just for visitors to the island. The merchants, owners, and managers of The Shops at Sea Pines Center cordially invite all locals, especially those of you who may not have dropped in for a while, to come down and experience the new and improved Shops at Sea Pines Center.
The first things that you’ll notice are the center’s much bolder presence as you drive up and the spruced up buildings and grounds. “Physically the center has been totally renovated with new hardscapes, and a new main entrance off of Lighthouse Road—nicely landscaped—gives a more direct route into the center,” said Dennis Jaworski, owner of Palmettoes and president of the merchant’s association. Also, some of the dense vegetation and a few trees that used to make the center difficult to notice from the road have been removed to improve visibility. “The buildings have been redone with new canvas awnings too,” Jaworski said. “It’s got a kind of Palm Beachy type feel to it now…a cozier feel.”
Ned Payne and partner Frank Fowler form the new ownership group for the center, and they’ve taken on the endeavor to create a shopping and service venue that will serve resident and visiting consumer demands for years to come. “We’ve been involved with Hilton Head for over 35 years. We’re in it for the long haul,” Payne said.
“Our first priority was to make the center a first-class property. You’re not going to attract quality tenants by telling them you’re going to fix the place up after they move in.”
To that end, some interesting new tenants have joined, or will soon join, the current roster that includes the businesses already mentioned plus Giuseppi’s Pizza in Sea Pines, The Back Door women’s apparel boutique, Joseph Adams Designs, Memory Lane Portraits, Peddling Pelican Bike Rentals, Plantation Station (a gas station/mini-mart with an upscale twist), First Federal Bank, the U.S. Postal Service,
Sea Pines Liquor and The Market at Sea Pines Center. Lighthouse Realty, The Heritage Classic Foundation and The Club Group, Ltd. (the Center’s management company) occupy office space on the second level.
Lowcountry Produce Market & Café, currently with two locations in Lobeco and Beaufort, opened in The Shops at Sea Pines Center on September 23. The purveyor of homegrown and hand-packed produce and Southern delicacies occupies 6,700 square feet in the center with a produce market, café, pub and wine shop. Frosty’s Italian Ices & More opened a second island location in the center on September 10, as will Neptune’s Niche, specializing in home and garden accessories and jewelry, artwork, pottery and sculpture created by Lowcountry artists, in January 2013. Both stores currently have locations in Shelter Cove Harbour. In November the Sea Pines Resort Fitness Center will relocate to an approximately 3,700 square foot space in The Shops at Sea Pines Center. “It will really make us an integral part of the resort,” said Mark King of The Club Group.
That along with the improvements to the property and a bevy of new tenants strengthens The Shops at Sea Pines Center’s position as a shopping and service destination location for locals from all over Hilton Head Island. King estimates that, when all of the new tenants are in place, the center will be approximately 90 percent occupied…so there’s room for a few more (hint, hint!). Ownership, current tenants and management want to see the center as a hub for specialty, niche type businesses with a distinctly local flair. “We’re reaching out to local business owners who see an opportunity to expand,” King said. “What we’re trying to find are businesses that have reason for being in business on Hilton Head Island as opposed to national retailers, for example,” Payne added.
Tenants like Sea Pines Liquor and The Market at Sea Pines Center owner Jeff Gould and Le Spa owner Bev Martin are enthusiastic about the changes. Gould anticipates increased foot traffic volume from which to attract more customers with his daily moonshine tastings; and Martin, whose business is predominantly loyalty based, looks forward to a boost from walk-in customers, especially with the addition of the Sea Pines Resort Fitness Center, which is complementary to her business. “The customers and the merchants are very excited about what’s happening,” Jaworski said.
Business owners interested in expanding their Hilton Head Island reach should contact The Club Group at (843) 363-5699 before the last few units get snapped up.
The Shops at Sea Pines Center is located in Sea Pines Plantation at 71 Lighthouse Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926. For more information, call (843) 363-5699 or visit online at SeaPinesCenter.com.