Even at the outset of pandemic precautions a couple of years ago, we put up a picture in the parking lot, facing Lighthouse Road. It was a graceful swimmer about to reach the surface, and the words said, “Adventures are Ahead.”

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

At the time, we couldn’t be sure how we would get beyond those times, but we were certain that we would, because of where we’ve been and what we are built on. The Shops at Sea Pines Center were inspired by the plaza of a Spanish city, the carré of a French village, the bazaar of a hamlet in the Holy Land, the British village green, or a New England town’s common. We might especially thank the mercato of Portofino on the Italian Riviera, where Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser is said to have discovered the design inspiration for nearby Harbour Town. We bore that in mind when we refreshed the colors of our plaza recently, for the atmosphere that’s carried forward here.

Because People Enjoy It

Why does an attractive – even magnetic – gathering place such as The Shops at Sea Pines Center appear in so many cultures and all through the history of civilization? It seems to bring deep satisfaction when people have a place to go that is both public and personal, secure and yet surprising. These spots became special. Their power of attraction probably originated from the agreeable experiences people encountered there.

Cheer and comfort, amusement and elation came to be connected to places such as these. People took steps to make them even more pleasant and attractive. Fountains and flowers, art and amusements, directions and diversions were added. And so, the magnetism of the marketplace grew from the practical to the emotional.

What an Achievement It Was

It’s been easy to locate most of the things we need for day-to-day life for so long that we forget what an achievement it was, when food and clothing began to come without risk or adventure. When spices and silk first made their way to Europe, that was the culmination of a months-long caravan, a journey whose hazards and hardships were worthy of a chronicle every time.

And So We Celebrate

The end points of those caravans were places of celebration. It wasn’t only the merchandise, but the experience of encountering it, and of sharing news and ideas with the others who gathered there, that made these markets into parks, into forums for the familiar and exhibits of the extraordinary. More recently, the plaza at Santa Fe still bears the traces of the Santa Fe Trail that led to and from it. Imagine the joy of being finished with that arduous trip, or of strolling down to that square to see what the intrepid travelers had brought with them this time.

We don’t think that hard about what we inherited this way, here in The Shops at Sea Pines Center. Joy has been a way of life in Sea Pines for more than a half-century, and so the ways and practices that are required to keep it that way are simply local customs here.

Please join us. It’s our mission to make you feel glad you did.