October Second Saturday: 10/8
- stories by Grace Birch, photographs by Ellis Anderson
Over the past 20 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 4–8 p.m., when gallery openings and live music keep the streets humming with activity.
Each month, one or two Old Town businesses take the spotlight as “Hot Spots." Veteran Second Saturday patrons know these will be among the liveliest places to be during the event.
Hot Spots in September are Bay-tique Boutique (125 Main) and Mockingbird Café (110 S. Second Street).
the Second Saturday column
125 Main Street
Bay St Louis
Bay-Tique — owned by Jane Alford, who also runs the Carroll House Bed & Breakfast — is the perfect place for Alford to meet new people and explore creativity.
“We enjoy a strong local following as well as semi-tourists,” Alford said. “We love seeing our repeat visitors who come here on a regular basis. They are here so much it feels like they are part of the fabric of the town.”
Having moved from Second Street to Main Street means more walk-in foot traffic, as well.
Bay-Tique is renowned for its original line of souvenir clothing and accessories. Alford's logos, featuring Bay St. Louis, Bay Rat and Go Coastal, are popular with visitors as well as locals. While the boutique is largely centered around women’s fashions, these tees and hats cater to men and children, as well.
“As I started bringing in lady’s apparel, I didn’t want to lose our Bay St. Louis signature souvenir items,” Alford said.
As Cruisin’ the Coast descends upon the Gulf Coast, Alford and other shop owners are gearing up for their biggest week of the year.
“We all count on Cruisin’ and it looks like the weather is going to be perfect this year,” Alford said. “That first week in October we see people doing heavy souvenir shopping, their holiday shopping, people shopping for children and grandchildren. We are stocked up on our gift items.”
Bay-Tique is also stocked up for fall. Cooler weather shopping in a beach town can be tricky. Alford said she had to learn the hard way that heavy coats and thick sweaters don’t fly out the door.
“We are keeping it light. It’s all about layering in cooler coastal weather,” Alford said. This season look for rich, bold colors like olive, burgundy and gold. Shorter boots have taken the place of tall boots that were popular last year.
“I try not to buy just based on trends,” Alford said. “You’ll find lots of classic finds at Bay-tique.”
Alford’s shop is like a little family with two key employees besides herself. “It took time to get people that I felt comfortable with and that I could count on,” Alford said. “We’ve got a nice little family of three. We cover for each other and count on each other. We are all in it together.”
In fact, Alford just got back from an extended trip from Richmond, VA to visit with her new niece, Madison Victoria Pratt, or MVP as Alford says proudly.
“When I came back from being back in town after being gone for three weeks, all my fall stuff was in,” Alford said. “We’ve really hit our stride. l Iooked around and thought, ‘We did good.’”
Cruise on in to Bay-tique in October to check out their new fall fashions.
110 South Second Street
Bay St Louis
Art adorns the walls, the signage, the latte art, the food… it all has a flair, an air of happiness. The Mockingbird team is loving their work, loving their life. In fact, the line between life and work is a beautiful blur.
The staff is close-knit and supportive of each other. The family extends beyond the circle of workers to the customers across the counter.
“We love seeing the same folks every morning,” said Aryana Ivey. “It’s like our regulars are showing up for work, too.”
The Mockingbird celebrated their 10th anniversary last month. Owner Alicein Wonderland intended the Mockingbird to be a place of healing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The coffee shop was a place for folks to meet up and talk about what was going on around the Gulf Coast.
Today, it remains an epicenter of Bay St. Louis.
“The best way to get to know everyone and to know what’s going on is to work at the Mockingbird,” said Ivey.
The creative minds behind the Mockingbird have the heart for their beloved beach town, but also are well traveled and encouraged to explore life beyond the cozy house on Second Street.
“Alicein is a great motivator, encouraging, always supporting all of us as artists,” said Ivey, who is planning an adventure to Morocco to further her henna art skills. “I started doing Henna four or five years ago, just started dabbling, and when Alicein decided to do the night market she pulled me out of my shell and told me to get going with the henna.”
Laura Hurt is one of several employees who has been working at the Mockingbird since it opened its doors. Hurt is well known for her coffee-slinging skills, but also the colorful headdresses and headbands she makes from flowers, feathers, sequins, beads, horns and more.
“Before I started working at the Mockingbird, I had no idea I had any artistic talent at all,” Hurt said. “It all started with Mardi Gras. I saw lots of headdresses and thought to myself that I could do some. Martha Whitney of the French Potager was persistent that I sell them and from there Alicein fueled the fire.”
“We at the Mockingbird have formed very meaningful relationships with not only the people we work with, but also the community we serve,” said Whitney LaFrance, who has also been working at the Mockingbird since it opened. “I think that kind of support is truly how we all have the means and the desire to branch out. The open hearts and helping hands that gather around the Mockingbird are an inspiring thing. It provides the kind of atmosphere that allows you to be yourself and share that with others.”
In a recent interview for the Mississippi Museum of Art, Wonderland said, “I love my town in that it’s allowed me to be who I am.” Clearly, the mantra at the Mockingbird is one that encourages discovering and embracing individuals, and celebrating artistic differences and talents.
“No one here ever quits,” said Hurt. “It’s such a great environment that I’ve never even attempted to find another job. Everything I want, need and love is right here.”