On Wednesday, June, 14, we were touring Ocean Springs, MS. This was the first time back in some years, and were heading to a recommended lunch spot on Washington Ave, in the downtown area. Imagine our surprise, when we saw Hillyer House! We knew Hillyer House, from their location in Pass Christian, down the Coast, and stopped there on every trip – usually on our way back to New Orleans, usually to fly out. This had been a stop that we repeated many times, and were so sad, when that shop/gallery was destroyed by Katrina. We assumed that it was lost, and gone forever, but here it was, right on Washington Ave, and a block up from the restaurant we were headed to.
We stopped immediately, and entered. This new shop seems larger, and with the glass in the front, perhaps a bit brighter, but it is just as full of “stuff,” as the old shop was. We began browsing, and discovered that many artists, that we knew, and whose work we admired in “The Pass,” were still represented, with some additions. We also saw several familiar faces, from the previous shop, so it was like “old home week.”
It’s difficult to exactly define Hillyer House. “Things” is the best descriptor, that I can come up with. They have “things.” Most of those things are beautiful, many are functional, and a few are just whimsical, having no use, except to make one smile. It’s a large part art gallery, part a furnishings store and part just great fun. Do you need/want a conical “tree,” made out of oyster shells? This is the place. Need hors d'oeuvres forks with various seafood items on the handle? Bingo! They have them, or did, before my wife bought them all. Have you ever dreamed of a chandelier, in the shape of a large jellyfish? What size, and how many? Do you require a painting of a hermit crab? They’ll ship it to your beach house.
I’m glad that we did not have Lunch reservations, as we would have been late – quite late. Though everything is neatly displayed, there is just so much to see, and to take in. I cannot imagine just popping in to buy something. One MUST walk slowly, and observe closely, or they WILL miss something.
Back and forth we went, gathering up things. I’d find hand towels with blue crabs, and my wife would find napkins with a fleur-de-lis. I found the “oyster tree,” and she found dozens of other items, including jewelry. Most (if not all) were by local artists, designers or artisans.
Even before we introduced ourselves as returning patrons, and discussed the opening of the shop in Ocean Springs, the service was great, and very friendly. That was always one of the pleasures of stopping into the Pass Christian shop – just great folk.
As we were flying out of MSY, everything was packaged up, to be shipped. We only had a day (actually, less than 24 hrs) back home, before leaving on another trip, so the shipping was coordinated, to work for our house sitter, in our absence. Everything, including my oyster tree, was packed well, and arrived in Phoenix safely.
We were so glad to make this discovery, or perhaps more correctly, “rediscovery,” and know where to go, on our next trip to the Gulf Coast.
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