“Welcome to the Harbour Town Lighthouse! Did you know I have been having coffee with you for the past 30 years?” This is how Lighthouse Keeper Nadia Wagner greeted NBC weathercaster Al Roker, when the cast and crew of the Today Show visited on May 19. In a real sense, it was two landmarks coming together.

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The Today Show taped video segments in selected spots on the island to support a live feed on Friday, May 20, in the relaxed third hour of their morning telecast. They had come to Hilton Head Island for the scenery, the interest, and the fun, just as any visitor would do. Remarkable, when you think of it, is how little we had to do differently to be camera ready.

The way we are here every day is enough – thank you very much – to make this America’s favorite vacation island. So, it makes sense that going on television across America was a day we took in stride. Here among The Shops at Sea Pines Center, the ability to make a special feeling an everyday occurrence, and vice versa, was part of the original design.

Built In from the Beginning

Sure, the shops are arrayed around a sun-splashed plaza, under the shade of palms and Bermuda awnings. The restaurants and merchandise are curated for a clientele who could go anywhere. And yet, on a closer look, you can see that here in Sea Pines, the everyday was provided for, too. With a gas station, a post office, and a bank designed in, the legendary founder and his team of designers intended The Shops at Sea Pines Center to be a resource, and not only an attraction.

Well, the gas station has distinguished wines and some of the best fried chicken around; the bank is now a gourmet market with a wine cellar in the bank-vault; and the post office is flanked by a calligrapher and independent bookseller. So even the basics are extraordinary, but the resources are here.

The Rewards of Persistence

At 70 years, the Today Show is the longest-running morning TV show in history, airing since January 14, 1952, and the fifth longest-running TV program of any kind. In 1969, when the Harbour Town Lighthouse was completed, the Today Show already had an average daily audience numbering millions of viewers in its 17th year. Even now, as channels have proliferated and competing shows have prospered, the Today Show gathers an audience of well more than four million viewers a week.

Dawn to dusk, day after day for decades, the lighthouse has served as more than a symbol of our island paradise. For many, it is a touchstone, a must see. As a result, it is estimated that Nadia has greeted more than two million Hilton Head Island visitors personally at the lighthouse. The lighthouse is the landmark, but the lighthouse keeper is the treasure.

Special Every Day

In the same spirit by design, The Shops at Sea Pines Center were created to make even everyday things special – a little more colorful, a little brighter, a bit surprising, and a little more fun. The first thing many people notice here is that what’s for sale is not the ordinary.

From the generations-long relationships of a family jeweler, to a clothing store that only orders a few of a single item and no more, to a source of downhome delicacies that are as authentic as the Lowcountry itself, an espresso with the taste of the Champs-Élysées, or a gallery of art photography unlike any other in the world – it might be easy to conclude that this is a kind of shopping and dining that people reserve for special occasions.

Among Friends

But look closer. Residents, seasonal visitors, and guests alike still come here to get a feel for what’s going on. Connection is an idea that clearly was in the mind of Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser, when he placed us right here, in the middle of “the Miracle Mile.”

The reminder we get, when we visit The Shops at Sea Pines Center – whether for an occasion, a special gift, or an everyday errand – is finding that we are among friends. More than ever, we are grateful for that. And some kinds of magic seem to happen then.

Ever notice how more good things follow when we’re happy about what we’ve got? People who give a lot of thought to that say that gratitude and grace are linked together – speaking of connections – and by grace we mean good things coming from beyond our own reach. In this spirit, The Shops at Sea Pines Center is ready to welcome you every day.