- stories by Denise Jacobs
Be sure to check out "Hot Spots" Bodega Sales and Rentals (111 Court Street) and California Drawstrings (216 Main Street).
Over the past twenty years, the monthly artwalk has become one of the most popular events in the region. Old Town stays lively all day, with many merchants and restaurants offering specials.
The pace picks up from 4pm – 8pm, when gallery openings and live music keep the streets humming with activity.
Be sure to visit Hot Spot businesses Bodega Sales and Rentals (111 Court Street) and California Drawstrings (216 Main Street). Read more about these Old Town businesses below.
Also, check out the new show at Gallery 220 (220 Main Street), with two of the Bay’s top artists, painters Barbara Brodtmann and Janet Densmore. The pair will be featured the entire month at Gallery 220. Read more about them below!
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216 Main Street
Bay St. Louis
“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.”
In the beginning, California Drawstrings focused on two or three lines of clothing, and now it stocks about 50 vendors.
Keenan quickly outgrew her French Market booth and moved into the French Quarter and Covington, La. Today her store on Royal Street in New Orleans is a well-known spot for men and women to pick up the best in resort wear—shirts, pants, shorts, dresses, skirts, outerwear and accessories. No matter how high temperatures rise, California Drawstrings has something for everyone to be comfortable and stylish.
“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.
"We have so much more space in our Bay St. Louis location - and lots of parking, too,” she said.
"We get a lot of repeat customers, and it is not unusual to sit down with customers and just chat late in the afternoon."
Besides being a picturesque beach town, what she loves about Bay St. Louis is the people. "The people I meet in the store are probably the most rewarding aspect of owning the shop,” she said.
Bay St. Louis, she said, is a place she wants to spend the rest of her life. “I’ll never really retire, but the pace is so much easier here than in New Orleans.” And after a while, she said, you just appreciate not having to worry about things like parking.
“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."
Betty Krieger has been with Keenan since she opened the Bay St. Louis shop and when she retires in June 2018, Stephanie Cooper will take over as manager.
"And to think I literally started with two tables and $1,500 at the French Market.”
Bodega BSL Sales & Rentals
111 Court Street
Bay St. Louis, MS 39520
Looking for a way to get around town during your stay? Don't have a bike? You can rent them at Bodega (just off Beach Boulevard at 111 Court Street). Feeling more adventurous? You can also ply the local waters with kayaks and paddle boards, also available for rent there. Bodega Adventure Rentals and Sales has just what you need.
The idea for Bodega evolved over time. Visionary entrepreneur Kevin Jordan bought the building from the city when it went up for auction several years ago. “I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do with it,” he said. “I often put the cart before the horse when it comes to real-estate decisions.”
The property was in excellent shape, having been renovated by the city after Hurricane Katrina, if not a little staid. Jordan and crew went to work using reclaimed Katrina lumber, stucco, and paints. The building’s first iteration was to house the offices of his Gulfview Properties before making the transformation to beach hangout.
Jordan recently teamed up with chef extraordinaire Rickey Peters, who has developed an enormous Gulf Coast following in the past 20 years. Out back, a deep French Quarter style balcony is being added to the building and will offer a covered area for dining below. Inside, the 1,000-square-foot bar and dining area is adjacent to the kitchen where Rickey serves up his specials.
Bodega gets its name from the town of Bodega in Northern California, home of Hitchcock’s thriller film The Birds, and one of Jordan’s favorite places to visit when he is at his family’s vineyard in Napa Valley. El Bodega is one of Jordan’s favorite bars in Havana. Jordan explains that in and around New York City, the term is used to refer to a convenience/liquor store, and that seems to fit, as he hopes to eventually carry beach and convenience store items.
Bodega Rentals & Sales is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Parrot Head is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until closing time and is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
George Mills and the Invisibles performs at Bodega each Saturday from 6 p.m. until.
Featured at Gallery 220
220 Main Street
Barbara Brodtmann creates unique impressions of life on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Her subjects range from horn blowing Jazz musicians to beach strutting Sandpipers, all the while capturing the unique colors and light with her favorite mediums of watercolor and acrylic. In addition to her paintings, Barbara has a long history of teaching art, to both children and adults and many have attended her popular Wine, Women and Watercolor sessions.
Janet Densmore will be showing more of her acrylic altered landscapes and beach scenes that change color by means of transparent pigments and minerals. Some images shift from vibrant neorealism to linear abstraction as the viewer moves closer to the paintings. In her smaller paintings and sculptures, Janet pushes the classic genre of still life to hilarious extremes in works she likes to call “Food For Thought,” with titles like “Confronting GMO” and “Cutting Down On Fats.”
Artist Amy Kramer created an acrylic on canvas banner that has been featured in the front window of the gallery since the re-opening. Knowing the window would be reset for summer, Kramer and gallery artists decided to raffle the painting, with all funds going to the MAP summer camp program.
The $5 raffle tickets will be available for purchase until the drawing, which will take place on Saturday, June 9 at 7 pm in the gallery showroom.
MAP states its mission is to, “provide an enriching environment at no cost for children in grades K-12 and to explore and learn Music, Arts, and Practicality (Life Skills) by establishing a multicultural Children's Theater and Children's Choir.”
This year’s production is, “Shrek, Jr. the Musical” and will be performed later in the summer. MAP is a 501c3 non-profit organization and operates with a volunteer staff. It offers a four to six-week summer camp experience for children who would not normally be able to attend camp due to finances.
MAP representatives and children, along with Gallery 220 artists invite you to join us for this special event. Please call, (228) 466-6347 for additional information or visit our Facebook page for current happenings.