From The Blog
What’s New at Freshfields Village?
There’s a lot going on at Freshfields Village! Kiawah’s shopping and dining hub has seen quite a few changes this summer, with five new shops featuring high-end luxury retailers, a number of additional events aimed at members and visitors alike, and even completely redesigned signage and branding. Also, behind the scenes, the complex sports a new general manager.
Additions to Freshfields retail offerings include a mix of large luxury brands and smaller boutique labels.
• Lilly Pulitzer, renowned for more than 50 years for bright colors and floral prints, sells women’s and girls’ clothing and accessories, such as bags and sunglasses, as well as other personal and gift items. This is the first corporately-owned Lilly Pulitzer store in South Carolina.
• Peyton William Jewelry opened in late May and is already popular with Kiawah and Seabrook property owners. It showcases handmade, unique casual and costume jewelry by designer Gabrielle Egan, a local designer whose first store is on King Street in downtown Charleston.
• Roberta Roller Rabbit also opened in May. A small boutique found in resorts and other high-end communities, it carries Roberta Freymann’s men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories, as well as home furnishings, all characterized by colorful graphic, floral and animal prints. This store is the second in the Charleston area and their 13th in the country.
• Southern Tide, with a line of stylish and classic men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories, opened its first signature store in the country last March at Freshfields. The owner is Island Sport, also owner of Sea Coast Sports and Outfitters, a Freshfields charter store.
• Tommy Bahama, a Seattle-based company with stores in many cities and resorts, carries the Tommy Bahama line of men’s and women’s clothing, including swim wear and home accessories.
Space is limited at Freshfields, so a few stores did close to make way for the new ones. Pink Boulevard, The Old Rangoon and Coastal Palms closed in the early part of this year for owners to pursue new opportunities. Freshfields’ management office moved upstairs, vacating prime retail space on the lower level for Peyton William. The current owners of Freshfields Village(Northwood Retail, LLC) are looking to create a unique blend of local and specialty boutiques.
Cars and Coffee has been meeting since winter. The brainchild of several Kiawah property owners with a mutual interest in cars, this event is year-round on the third Saturday of each month, 10-11 a.m. It draws people with cars to display; others walk in off the street just to look – and to drink coffee. “We can have 50-70 unique cars on a busy day and the attendees always seem to enjoy visiting with other car lovers,” commented Trish Pruitt, Freshfields marketing manager.
The Gullah Celebration in May was organized by and benefited the Sea Island Hunger Awareness Foundation, with Kiawah Cares as a promotional sponsor.
“We were very happy with the turnout and the foundation raised over $60,000” said Trish. “We have confirmed with the chairperson that the event will be held again in 2016.” It combined an auction with Gullah food and music, and items for sale.
New at the Inn
In February, Southern Living magazine ranked the Andell Inn on its 2015 list of the South’s 10 best new hotels. “A lot of people have learned about us and Kiawah from that article,” said Inn Manager William Pittman. Occupancy at the inn has been high, with weddings a big draw in spring and fall. “Summer is the busiest season. We see visitors from all over the US, and we are getting a lot of first-time people. Many guests are staying four or five nights, which is more of a trend this year than in the past,” William said. The beach and golf are big draws. Guests at the inn are not able to access Kiawah Island behind the main security gate; however, they can visit the beach through Charleston County’s Beachwalker Park on Kiawah. The inn does not provide transportation to the park, but “guests who want to go to the beach either rent bikes or drive early to park at Beachwalker,” said William. Three large new porch swings on the inn’s back porch have also been a hit with guests. “It’s a great place to relax.”
The inn has added two weekly music events. “Last October we started live music for an hour on Thursday nights with a three-person jazz band, and it was a hit through the fall and winter, so in spring we increased the time and added a Saturday program by the pool,” explained William. Saturday clientele tend to be guests, or people who have come to the bar for a drink, but Thursday night music has been a hit with local property owners. The Thursday program is now 6 – 9 p.m. with varying genres of music, generally Jazz or Motown.
New in the Future
Watch for future expansion in Freshfields Village. “We are designing a new set of buildings that starts at the Tommy Bahama shop and faces the lake, as well as a new building next to Kiawah Island Real Estate. We plan to bring in some new tenants and possibly relocate some existing. Current plans call for at least two new restaurant concepts that will be casual and complement the existing food offerings”, said Trish.
Freshfields aims to attract area property owners as well as visitors. “We want the people who live here to enjoy what we do,” Trish said. She encourages property owners to contact her with ideas
for programs they would like to see. She cautions that events are weather dependent. While a weatherproof venue would be desirable, “We do not have immediate plans for that,” she said.
New General Manager
Julie Beier became the manager of Freshfields Village last April. A hospitality professional that has lived in the Charleston area for more than two decades, she has worked for the past 13.5 years in the shopping center industry, most recently as the manager of Northwoods Mall. She knows Kiawah well: “I have been coming to Kiawah as a guest for as long as I’ve lived in the area,” she remarked.
While the facilities side of Freshfields is very different from an enclosed center, Julie found the transition easy and enjoys the resort aspect and the day-to-day operation of running the shopping center. “My favorite part of the job is working with people. The work is all about the relationships you have, whether they are customers or retailers.” She views her role as implementing Freshfields Village owner Northwood Retail’s vision.
To learn about events at Freshfields, visit freshfieldsvillage.com. Events are also listed in the Digest calendars (coded in red), on the KICA website calendar (kica.us/events) and on the Kiawah mobile app (available for download on both Android and Apple devices).
Article contributed by Digest Feature Reporter Sue Schaffer.