In the relaxation that comes to our resort island in autumn, we give thanks looking back on a season in which we played our part well. The sunlit plaza of The Shops at Sea Pines Center served more than ever as a gathering place for Sea Pines visitors and residents.

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

As a place where interesting things happen, the plaza became even better known, and by a wider audience, thanks to our own Farmers & Maker Market, our First Thursdays Art Market, and as we hosted the Sip & Stroll of the Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival.

As a place to touch base, a place where people come again and again, over the course of years, to hear what’s happening this week, what’s going on that might be of interest – for this the plaza was already deep in the hearts of the people who know.

An Idea that Never Gets Old

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. The vision might particularly have begun with 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. 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.

A Celebration of Good Fortune

We’ve enjoyed the results of civilization for so many generations that it’s hard to repaint the picture of what a gathering place meant, back when they began. For so long it’s been easy to locate most of the things we need for day-to-day life. We forget what an achievement it was before food and clothing began to come to town 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 legend, or at least a chronicle, every time.

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.

A clear example on a smaller scale, and 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.

How We Feel Here

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.

Here, in The Shops at Sea Pines Center, we don’t think that hard about what we inherited this way. Joy has been a way of life in Sea Pines Plantation for well over a half-century. The ways that are required to keep fulfilling that vision are simply local customs here. Yes, it takes work and cooperation, insight and empathy, but we’ve been at it as long as we can recall. So, to a certain extent, it comes naturally to The Shops at Sea Pines Center; it’s what we do.

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