Main Street Village: Where Families serve Families
Author: Teresa Fitzgibbons
Main Street U.S.A.—a place where you can stroll down the street, surrounded by family-owned shops; a place where friendly merchants greet you by name; a place where you can pass the day relaxing on a park bench under old-fashioned lampposts, watching your neighbors go by; a place where you can take care of all your shopping and errands with just one stop; a place where you always feel right at home.
“Every town needs a Main Street,” said John Roppelt, Managing Partner of Main Street Pub and Café. “A downtown is kind of missing from Hilton Head. Main Street Village reminds people of their own hometowns, wherever those may be.”
Reminiscent of a New England fishing village or a Midwestern small town circa 1910, Main Street Village lets you take a walk back in time to an era when merchants knew their customers by name and went out of their way to go the extra mile for them.
“You can do everything here,” said Nancy Voegele, owner of Pink House Gallery of Fine Art and Framing. Chances are, whatever is on your “to do” list can be accomplished at over 20 businesses and services located in Main Street Village.
The best part about Main Street Village is the eclectic shopping choices. Main Street Village offers some of the best, and most unique, boutique shopping on the island, including funky art galleries and specialty shops offering everything from sports memorabilia to children’s toys and personalized gifts.
“Art Ware offers the best aspects of a gift shop and a gallery in one,” said Jennifer Megliore, owner of Art Ware. “It’s like going to a gift shop in a gallery where everything has an underlying current of all things artistic.” Art Ware carries the handiwork of over 200 American artists, representing the best of the American crafts tradition. There’s a large selection of jewelry as well.
For those who prefer prints and paintings, Pink House Gallery of Fine Art and Framing represents 15 local artists, including impressionist Candace Lovely and the whimsical works of Kathryn Ramseur-Riley. Though much of the art in the gallery is representative of the Lowcountry, including landscapes, seascapes, and golf courses, a wide variety of pictures are available as well as pottery and gifts. Just about everyone will find something to suit their taste.
At Lettrs, it’s all about personalizing your gifts. “We take an average, everyday item and truly make it yours,” said Deb Timen, owner. Lettrs carries bags and totes, picture frames, jewelry, accessories, and other items that are perfect either on their own or with a monogram. Lettrs offers in-house embroidery, engraving, and stationary printing. They’ll also embroider or engrave items you bring in. The store has also recently begun to offer cut vinyl monograms made with sign-quality vinyl.
If a child is on your shopping list, then Just Precious is the place for you. A small child’s fantasy and a grandmother’s dream, Just Precious carries toys for infants, toddlers, and young children; including classic items like rocking horses and Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. You won’t find mass-produced toys in Just Precious; instead you’ll see finely crafted dolls and toys as well as child-sized furniture and room décor.
One thing that all of the merchants at Main Street Village have in common is their dedication to customer service. “Every weekend, I’m out of town at conferences looking for things people have never seen,” said Jerry Glenn, co-owner of Legends Sports Gallery, home to sports memorabilia, autographed items, collectibles, and the famed line of Cooperstown Bears. Legends Sports Gallery will also customize gifts with the latest trends in packaging and framing. With items priced from 50 cents to thousands of dollars, representing dozens of professional and college football and baseball teams as well as golf and tennis, Legends Sports Gallery truly caters to every sports fan.
The North End’s place to meet and eat, Main Street Pub and Café is located in the heart of Main Street Village. A locals’ favorite, it is home to one of the island’s most popular happy hours with Joe Murphy. “He’s a legend on the island,” Roppelt said of his bartender. “People enjoy coming in to talk to him.” They also enjoy the reasonably priced American-style pub and grilled menu selections, including a variety of seafood and nightly specials.
“One of the neat things about Main Street Village is that 90 percent of the businesses here are owner-operated,” said Roppelt. “You’ll see the owners and get to talk to them. That’s one thing we really enjoy in the Village.”
It’s a sentiment shared by many of his fellow business owners, who seem to enjoy each other as much as they do the customers they serve. “Most of my clients are locals, and I enjoy getting to know my neighbors,” said Timen. “I can greet many of them by their first names. I also enjoy the camaraderie with my fellow store owners.”
“It’s just a neat community here,” said Roppelt. “It’s definitely the place where residents of Hilton Head Plantation, Palmetto Hall, and Indigo Run can go for one-stop shopping.”
People from all parts of the island are drawn to Main Street Village, both for the nostalgia and convenience. Located just outside the gates of Hilton Head Plantation and off Highway 278, between mile markers three and four, shoppers don’t have to fight the traffic and can enjoy the ease of hassle-free shopping. Now 20 years old, Main Street Village has, in many ways, grown up with the island, just like a true Main Street. Seven merchants have been at Main Street since its inception: Legends Sports Gallery, Burkes Main Street Pharmacy, Roberts Village Jewelers, Reilley’s Wine and Liquors, J. Banks Interior Design Group, Cinnamon Bear Country Store, and Hilton Head Family Eye Care. Three of the businesses in Main Street Village, including Art Ware, have been named Small Business of the Year by the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce.
But what truly sets Main Street Village apart is that many of the businesses are family owned and operated—something that’s not easy to come by in today’s world where franchises and large chains seem to dominate the retail landscape. The father/daughter team, Jerry and Lori Glenn of Legends Sports Gallery, has been in business at Main Street Village for 20 years. Next door, the Voegele family, Nancy and son Dan and daughter-in-law Tonia operate Pink House Gallery of Fine Art and Framing. Brothers-in-law John Roppelt and Aaron Glugover have been the proprietors of Main Street Pub and Café for eight years. Main Street Village truly has the distinction of being a place where families serve families.
“We’re lucky we have a nice resident base that keeps us busy year round,” said Megliore. “In the seven years I’ve been here, I’ve seen kids come in holding their mother’s hand and now they’re teens. It’s fun to see how things change over the years.”
Classic Car Cruise-In
“We feel like Main Street Village is a time machine,” said Harry Walker, President of Carolina Dreamers Car Club. “It’s a relaxing atmosphere. The stores are friendly and often family-owned; they’re not big corporations. It’s like we’ve gone back to high school.”
Main Street Village is the site of the Carolina Dreamers “Classic Car Cruise-In,” held the fourth Friday of every month from March to October from 6:30 to 8 pm. The nostalgic, “old-timey” feel of Main Street Village provides the perfect backdrop to the dozens of classic and antique cars that motor in for the Classic Car Cruise-Ins.
“It’s been a good partnership,” said Jennifer Megliore, owner of Art Ware in Main Street Village. “The Carolina Dreamers Car Club shares the same philosophy of community spirit that we do.”
Classic Car Cruise-Ins will find hundreds of people milling about between a menagerie of collectible vehicles that include everything from 60s street rods to Studebakers and motorcycles dating as far back as 1948. “These guys are friendly,” said Megliore. “They love to talk about and show off their cars.”
Most Main Street Village merchants stay open later during Classic Car Cruise-Ins, which means there’s plenty to do for the non-car fanatic. “Main Street Village has been the perfect place for us,” said Walker. “It’s easy to access and the merchants are great. They have good prices and good quality merchandise for our families to enjoy.”
Walker stresses that the public is welcome at both the Classic Car Cruise-In and the monthly meeting of the Carolina Dreamers Car Club which begins at 6 p.m. on Classic Car Cruise-In nights. Carolina Dreamers Car Club began in 1992 and is comprised of people that have a passion for classic cars; owning one is not a requirement. The club is also active in the community, providing support to local charities and sponsoring car shows in the greater Bluffton area.