- stories by Grace Birch
Saturday, June 11th
Over the past two decades, the Second Saturday Artwalk has become one of the most popular monthly community events in the entire region. Gallery openings, shop and restaurant specials and live music make the streets of town swirl with a fun family energy. While things are lively all day, the music and specials take place from 4 - 8pm.
Each month, two "Hot Spot" businesses take the limelight. This month, California Drawstrings (216 Main Street) and Twin Light (207 Main Street) are featured. Make sure to stop by and congratulate them!
Second Saturday column
216 Main Street,
Bay St Louis
A CLEAVER SPONSOR - please thank them!
But California borrows its motto from Archimedes, the famed Greek mathematician, whom according to legend exclaimed "Eureka!" after he discovered a method of determining the purity of gold.
Keenan had her eureka moment as a young entrepreneur coming to New Orleans for the 1984 World’s Fair.
“I was working in real estate in North Carolina when I saw this fabulous line of linen clothing at a boat show,” said Keenan. “I knew I wanted to continue my real estate career and move to New Orleans, but I thought people visiting for the World’s Fair weren’t going to understand the heat and humidity. I thought I could earn some extra money by selling this cool clothing line in the French Market and it just really took off.”
Keenan quickly outgrew her French Market booth and moved into the French Quarter. Today her store on Royal Street in New Orleans is a well-known spot for both men and women to pick up the best in resort wear — shirts, pants, shorts, dresses, skirts, outerwear, accessories — California Drawstrings has something for everyone to be comfortable and stylish, no matter how high temperatures rise.
California Drawstrings has also expanded to a Magazine Street store, as well as an outlet location on the North Shore in Covington.
“One day Nancy Moynan of Lulu's called me saying the mayor of Bay St. Louis told her about my shop and they thought it would be a good fit for Bay St. Louis,” Keenan said. “I went to see her space at Maggie May’s and opened a Bay St. Louis branch in 2012.”
Just as Keenan faced the familiar problem of outgrowing the space a couple of years later, she heard of a business for sale on Main Street. She saw the building and immediately made an offer.
“I just know Bay St. Louis is a place I want to spend the rest of my life,” Keenan said. “I’ll never really retire, but the pace is so much easier here than in New Orleans. And after a while you just appreciate not having to worry about things like parking.”
Keenan said that besides being a picturesque beach town, what she loves about Bay St. Louis is the people. And Keenan knows people.
“I feel like I have the greatest sales team and the greatest managers,” Keenan said. “They look after the stores as if they were their own. The greatest compliment you can give me is that you love my staff. They are truly like family to me watching out for what’s best for all of us. I can’t be in three places at once. And to think I literally started with two tables and $1500 at the French Market.”
When she’s in Bay St. Louis and not at California Drawstrings, chances are you’ll find Keenan at her favorite place to eat: the Sycamore House.
“Their food is very consistent, very good, and they have a great bar and bartender,” Keenan said. “It’s the kind of place where they know your name when you walk in.”
You could say Keenan has struck gold again by moving to the Bay.
136 Main St
Bay St Louis
Twin Light Creations isn’t just the a shop, it’s a home. Located in one of Old Town’s iconic bungalows, the 1890s building is listed on the city’s historic tour as the Angeline House named for a family from Sicily who once lived in it.
Today the proud business owners and residents are Pam Collins and Joy Panks, who have created a colorful, whimsical paradise where they live, work and play. Each day they welcome people in and when they lock the shop doors at night, they simply walk out the back door into their apartment in the evening.
Collins and Panks love having visitors come through the shop and admire their unique home and garden offerings. Shoppers are wowed at the variety of items. It’s easy to see that this shop is a literal dream come true for the owners of Twin Light.
“We started renting a cottage in Bay St. Louis in 1999 and it just got harder and harder to leave,” said Collins. “We knew one day we wanted to have a shop, but we also knew we wanted it to be something different.”
At the time Collins was working in the hotel business in New Orleans while Panks was a draftsman, drawing deep water structures.
“I jumped out of the frying pan with hotels and into the frying pan of retail,” smiled Collins.
“It’s a lot like having a farm,” Panks added. “Our days start incredibly early and go incredibly late. It makes it hard to travel sometimes.”
Their whole Twin Light adventure started with travel. While they were still working their former jobs, they took two 6 week trips - one up the East Coast and one to the West Coast. Along the way they met families and artists that made unique goods. By the end of the trips they had a list of 50 vendors they wanted to work with.
“Some people said we would never make it because we don’t feature many local artists, Collins said. "But we're still proud to be here."
Twin Light does feature local artist Julie Nelson, well-known for raku pottery, but the rest of the items are unique to Old Town Bay St. Louis.
Lots of wind chimes. hand-blown glass, specially lighting, metal artworks and wine-themed decor items line the walls, shelves and ceilings.
The bungalow keeps going with beautiful bird fountains near the back and a whole section dedicated to garden and house flags.
Out the French doors in the back of the shop, Twin Light Creations continues onto an outside deck and stunning garden. The outdoor walls are filled with vibrant Haitian art and spinners blow in the Bay breeze in the backyard.
Each unique piece has the story of the artist or family behind it, which Collins and Panks are all too happy to share.
There are many unique lights and lanterns in the shop, which fits the name Twin Light Creations perfectly. The true meaning of the name Twin Light is even more illuminating.
“We have friends who always call us twin because Joy and I look so much alike,” said Collins. “And the Light is for God.”
Indeed, images of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary hang above the front window, rescued after Hurricane Katrina from their former shop location right across the street.
The Sacred Hearts and special twins have found their true home at 136 Main Street and their light is shining bright in Old Town at Twin Light Creations.