Category Archives: Shopping Surf City NC

Have I Got a Scoop for You: Thomas Tackle and Seafood in Surf City

IMG_2720 (Large)by Donna Byrd


I was walking around a popular local grocery store in the Surf City area the other day, trying to think of a seafood dish I could fix for dinner. While in the produce department, I saw the display of oranges and remembered a fantastic grilled grouper recipe I had IMG_2733 (Large)prepared the month before. It was filleted grouper, bathed in a spicy marinade, grilled to perfection and served over a bed of arugula, spinach and orange segments with a tangy, orangey dressing, drizzled all over it. All of a sudden, I had to have that meal again! That night!

Immediately, I began to grab the ingredients I needed to create this restaurant quality masterpiece. I was hungry and couldn’t wait to get home to get my meal underway, so I hurried over to the checkout line. In all of my hurrying, I realized I had forgotten the star of the meal: the grouper. Excusing myself from the line, I thought I’d try my luck in finding some beautiful grouper in the meat department. I’d seen some behind the seafood counter before.IMG_2664 (Large)

I scanned behind the glass counter and to my disappointment, didn’t see any grouper. I asked the attendant if they happened to have any in the back and he shook his head and said, “No.” I started to turn away but he leaned over the counter a bit, lowered his voice and said,  “Have you tried Thomas Tackle and Seafood? I just got some grouper there yesterday. It had just come off the boat.”

“I bet it was wonderful, wasn’t it,” I asked. “‘Sure was,” he said smiling. “That’s the only place I get my seafood,” my new friend told me. “Go by there if you’re headed back toward the island.”

Thanking him for the tip, I decided to take his advice. If he worked in a meat department at a big grocery store but bought his seafood from another merchant, it had to be good and fresh. The man had to know what he was talking about. I pointed my car in the direction of the island.IMG_2727 (Large)

I had driven by Thomas Tackle and Seafood many times but had never gone in. Since Bill and I don’t fish, we never paid attention to bait and tackle shops and I never really noticed the “seafood” part of the sign. Who knew the grocery store man could give me such a valuable tip?

I pulled into the parking lot. There were several cars out front and the place looked pretty busy. I walked up to the front porch and noticed that there were baskets of red tomatoes sitting by the door. A rocking chair and some colorful crab pots were nestled up to the other side of the door. IMG_2707 (Large)I looked back at the roadside sign and noticed that it had the word “Produce” on it too. I had no idea that this business was so versatile! I couldn’t wait to go inside!IMG_2698 (Large)


I walked in and passed by some shelving loaded with seafood batters and spices plus seasoning packets for gumbos and Low Country dishes.
There were also bags of locally milled seasoned grits. On the floor, sat more baskets of beautiful, home grown ‘maters and on some shelving against the front windows there were shelves of locally grown potatoes, squash, okra, onions, cucumbers and peppers. Who knew this treasure trove of earthly goodies existed? IMG_2694 (Large)

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I walked toward the back of the store and saw a long row of iced down, shrimp (three sizes,) scallops, flounder, grouper, clams, and the largest striped bass I’d ever seen. (The manager brought him out for me to take a picture!)

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I chatted with the guys behind the counter. They told me that Mr. George Thomas opened his store up in 1949 in the exact location that Sears Landing Restaurant is today. His old buildings by the dock were torn down about fifteen years ago to make way for the restaurant and Thomas Tackle and Seafood got the home it’s in now.


Today, Mr. Thomas’ son, Doug manages the business. Keeping the seafood and produce as local and as fresh as possible is the key to the business’ longevity and success. Plus, he has anything a fisherman would need in the bait and tackle category.IMG_2705 (Large)

Thomas Tackle and Seafood is on Hwy 50 before you get to the swing bridge that crosses over to the Topsail Island. I’m sure it’s the first store that many vacationers stop at on their way to “beach heaven.”  I was talking to a long time employee, Sammy, and he told me that a customer had just left  that had been shopping there for forty-five years. This neat produce, seafood, bait and tackle shop has become a beach tradition for Surf City vacationers and locals!IMG_2712 (Large)

Mr. Thomas’ grandson Josh, was working right by his grandfather’s side. It seems as if this iconic Surf City business will be around for another generation of “the best seafood around!”

Oh, and P.S… I did take home a lovely grouper fillet and some “purty” tomatoes! Here’s a link to my grilled grouper recipe! Try it! You’ll like it!

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Thomas Tackle and Seafood is located at:


1520 NC-50, Surf City,

NC  910-328-4361

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Andrews’ Produce, Topsail Island’s Farmer’s Market

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by Donna Byrd

When I was growing up, our family went to the beach every summer for a glorious week in July. Now, when I say family, I really mean the WHOLE family! Aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins…lots of cousins. We all rented condos close together and made the vacation like a huge, week long, family reunion.IMG_2561 (Large)

What’s a reunion without good food? Everyday, we ate the favorite meals of all the grown-ups, and that meant we had farm fresh vegetables!

For some reason, our parents had to have huge, vine ripe tomatoes, silver queen
corn right out of the field, crisp cucumbers, all kinds of colored peppers, IMG_2562 (Large)snappy, string beans, sunny, yellow squash, (still warm from the sun,) tender okra and the most prized vegetable of all: shelled butter beans! The counter tops in our kitchens groaned under the weight of these garden treasures. Our family vacations taught us kids how to love a BLT, how to cherish the simplicity of a tomato sandwich, eat corn on the cob snaggled toothed or with braces and to ask the question, born out of new found experience, “Can we just have a vegetable supper?”IMG_2560 (Large)

I’m happy to report to you all that the “gotta have those fresh, seasonal vegetables” tradition still continues not just for my family, but many other beach bound vacationers who are determined to eat the best foods while they are relaxing by the sea shore! They come to us and trust that there is a humble vegetable stand close by where they can stock up on good eats, where they can make “vegetable runs” to create the meals and sandwiches of their dreams and may I just say, find the most delectable peaches to churn into homemade ice cream or buttery, crisp cobblers. IMG_2577 (Large)They know that every year that vegetable stand is going to be in the same place, operated by the same family, and that that family will ensure that they have the best locally grown vegetables around. Here on Topsail Island, they go to Andrews’ Produce.

I have passed by this roadside farmer’s market for years. Every time I do, there are happy people around the tables speaking vegetable and fruit language. For just a few minutes, everybody there is your best friend. Secret family recipes are shared while smelling ripe cantaloupes and weighing huge tomatoes. The day I was there, Vanessa Andrews presided over the tables, answering questions about her family’s history and where all her farm fresh vegetables came from.IMG_2579 (Large)

She says that Andrews’ Produce has been in business for forty-one years. She and her husband Jeff live on the beach road, between North Topsail Beach and Surf City. The canopies that cover their goodies and block the hot summer sun are spread out in front of their house, which was originally built by Jeff’s father as a vacation house in the 1970’s. Jeff’s parents farmed on acreage in Duplin County and networked with other local farmers to bring the best vegetables to their produce stand. Now, Jeff and Vanessa run the stand and boy, does it keep them busy from May until September!IMG_2545 (Large)

As I spoke with Vanessa, she stopped our conversation many times to wait on customers. She loves to talk about her products and it’s obvious that she knows her “stuff.” She pointed to her canned goods at the end of the table. There were canned beets, chow-chow, pepper vinegar, apple butter, strawberry, blueberry and black raspberry jams and jellies that she cans right there at her home. I heard her tell someone that it takes five hours of hand chopping fresh vegetables to make the chow-chow. Five hours! Vanessa cans about 50 pounds of pickled beets and 350 pounds of tomatoes a week to keep up with her customer demands. Can you imagine?IMG_2554 (Large)

She pointed to some local honey and explained to me that the delicacy in those jars was from Shaken Creek Farms near Burgaw and Maple Hill. She said they have to travel about six miles down a dirt road just to get to the bee hives. The beautiful tomatoes came from St. John’s Island in South Carolina. When they know Jeff is coming to pick them up, they pull the prettiest tomatoes they have off the vines just for him. They know he’s picky about his tomatoes!

Jeff networks with farmers he grew up with as a boy. He’s still doing business with the sons of the farmers his dad worked with. As the produce comes in, he follows the growing season, chasing the fruits and vegetables as they come into their “peak best.” IMG_2547 (Large)From the south to the north, east to west, Jeff gathers as the summer progresses, keeping his produce fresh and available for those of us on the island.

I couldn’t believe that Vanessa also made homemade ice cream and sorbets to sell. She let me taste a few flavors and I have to tell you, you must try some if you stop by! She said that every day she makes ice cream to keep her customers happy. Vacationers are relentless with their “Me want ice cream” mentality!IMG_2565 (Large)

Before I left, Vanessa had something special to show me. She went into the house and brought out a quilt that a local resident had sewn for them. It was beautiful and hand stitched with love. The blocks were made of varied fabrics with fruit and vegetable themes. It commemorated the Andrews’ family’s business and their service to the community of North Topsail Island.

Vanessa told me that one day an obviously very sick lady named Penny, came to their vegetable stand. She was craving watermelon. Mr. Andrews chose a melon for her and offered to take it to her car. She said she needed to pay for it first, but he insisted, “No. Your watermelon comes today as complements of Andrews’ Produce.” He walked her to her car and placed the desired treasure (because we all know that when you’re craving a watermelon, nothing else will do,) into her car. She passed away not long after that.IMG_2566 (Large)

Another customer happened to be observing this and took note of his kind deed. A few months later, she showed up at the Andrews’ with this lovely quilt, a gift of thanks and appreciation. “You think you just run a vegetable  stand, but you are more than that to this community! Your kindness to the people here makes you a vital part of this community!”  Sometimes a gift such as this speaks more gratitude than words could ever say!

As I left,  Vanessa was serving her customers with a smile, her soft southern accent tickling the ears of her customers from the north. No wonder the business is a beach tradition for so many. It serves up the best of the south with grace and excellence!


Andrews’ Produce is located at:IMG_2573 (Large)

Second Ave and Island Drive, North Topsail Beach, NC


Open everyday from May through September

9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Bring cash! No credit cards accepted! (Vanessa told me since they pay their farmers in cash, their customers have to pay in cash too! The old school way!


Like their Facebook page and see what specials Vanessa has daily.

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It’s That Time of Year Again – Welcome back to Topsail!!

by Donna Byrdntbwelcomesign new (Large) (Medium)


It’s that time of year! Suitcases are being filled to the brim with bathing suits, beach cover ups, tee shirts, shorts and that one beachy dress that may be worn to a nice restaurant. Travel bags are stocked with sunscreen, magazines and that new John Grisham novel, a couple of pairs of flip flops and oh yes, aloe gel, just in case someone gets a littleIMG_2243 (Large) sunburned. Meds are carefully packed away in zip lock bags and oh yes, don’t forget the deck of cards, Scrabble Board and the 1,000 piece puzzle Grandma gave you for Christmas. It’s a perfect time to put it together because finally, the one week of the year you’ve all been waiting for is here.  It’s vacation time!


Yes, the calendar is saying,  “June is here,” and with it brings families by the thousands to IMG_2222 (1) (Large)our fair shore. From now until the end of August, Topsail Island becomes a Mecca to those ready for a little rest, relaxation and quality time with friends and family.


I remember when we moved here a few years ago, we were warned not to venture out to the grocery stores and local markets on Saturdays in the summertime, especially during the afternoon. The vacationers were arriving on that day and the stores were packed with folks buying necessities and groceries.IMG_2252 (Large)


I heeded their advice at first, staying away from our neighborhood Food Lion and Harris Teeter, but one Saturday, I was entertaining and cooking for a crowd. I needed a special ingredient and had to go to the store on a Saturday afternoon.


The parking lot was full of cars with out-of state license tags and I had to park out near the main road. Oh no! What had I gotten myself into? Was I crazy to venture out into this crowd? The store was teeming with with folks and the checkout lines were long but there was something there I hadn’t expected.IMG_2233 (Large)


There was this undercurrent of happiness that was infectious. People were piling their favorite foods into their grocery carts. Meals were being planned for the week in between the aisles of canned goods and cereals. I could hear happy chatter. “Which would you rather have? Chicken or beef?  How do you like your fish? Broiled or fried? Did you get the ice? I hope you’re planning on making that cake you made last year for us. It was so good! Don’t forget to buy the wine and beer! Uh oh! Better get some Tums.”IMG_2248 (Large)


Children were laughing and fooling around. Grocery carts were piling higher and higher! Employees were standing by to answer questions: “Where is the cocktail sauce? Do you have fresh ginger?”


Folks were laughing and planning, all the while catching up with those loved ones they hadn’t seen since Christmas. Children were sneaking cookies and Captain Crunch into the carts and the parents didn’t seem to mind. Generosity was everywhere. A mid-level hum of happiness could be heard throughout the store. Expectations were running high. It was going to be the perfect vacation!IMG_2254 (Large)


I don’t know, but somehow I got caught up in the fun of it all. A chaotic happiness permeated the building. I loved being amongst all the excitement. Ever since that day, I don’t mind slipping into the stores as vacationers come and stock up for the week. During that time, our Food Lion, Harris Teeter and the Walmart Neighborhood Marketplace are some of  the happiest places on earth.


IMG_2218 (Large)The employees have stocked their shelves and counters and they are waiting for your return! Limes and bananas are stacked up to the ceilings, iced cold beer of all varieties is waiting for you in the coolers, the butchers are showing off their pretty steaks, chicken and pork chops.  Rows of chips are waiting to be snatched up and the smell of rotisserie chickens are making us hungry!  They’re all waiting for you! Heck, I’m waiting for your return! You make this place just so darn happy!

IMG_2244 (Large) So welcome back to Topsail! Our doors are opened wide and we’re hoping this is your best vacation yet! Come on! We need “some happy” up in this place!

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D’s Interior Design: Dreaming Up Beautiful Designs for You

IMG_1737 (Large)D’s Interior Design: Dreaming and Scheming up Beautiful Designs for You

By Donna Byrd

Donna Wells was just a fourth grader when she realized that she like to paint. Not only did she enjoy it; she was good at it!  She began to realize that she was an artist and with that gift came creativity.

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As Donna became older, she decided that she wanted to use her artistic creativity in interior design. She had a natural “eye” for decorating and “seeing” textures, shapes and colors come together to create beautiful spaces for people to live in. When she was thirty years old, she entered the Interior Design Program at Randolph Community College in Asheboro, North Carolina to polish her natural gift. Today, we see the results of her artistry, creativity and honed skills making an impact in the residences of the Topsail Island area and many of its vacation rental homes, especially some of the Treasure Realty Rental homes.  “D’s Interior Designs” has become a trusted name in our community when it comes to renovations, new construction design and full service interior decorating.IMG_1738 (Large)

D’s Interior Designs was incorporated as a business in November of 1988 and has been growing steadily.  Twelve years ago it moved into the building it’s now located in.  Really, it is a good sized “showroom” that displays anything (and I mean ANYTHING) that a home would need as it’s being decorated: carpet, vinyl and hardwood flooring samples, kitchen and bathroom countertop materials, tile for flooring, bathrooms, and kitchen back splashes, fabric for furniture upholstery, curtains, draperies and pillows, wallpaper samples, lighting fixtures, blinds, furniture and bed linens.IMG_1729 (Large)

Wait…I almost forgot to mention the fabulous outdoor furniture that graces the front porch of the building. Several groupings of wooden and faux wood patio chairs and tables, rockers, chaise lounges and even old fashioned porch swings, catch your eye before you wander into the building. If you’re like me, you’ll have to sit in a few of them and just “try them out.” Believe me, they all “sit” great!

Walking into the D’s Interiors and Designs is like walking into a coastal, beachy heaven! Not only does Donna have the hundreds of samples you would need to look through if you’re decorating, she has wonderful, accessories for the home, too. IMG_1703 (Large) (2)Donna has placed groupings of furniture like couches and overstuffed chairs, with coffee tables and end tables. She then puts together colorful pillows and area rugs that pull them all together into a pleasant, nautical atmosphere. Beautiful lamps are chosen to give off the right type of lighting. Glassware in cool blues and greens sits atop painted chests. Mermaids and whale figures, made from driftwood claim tabletop space. Hand painted beach signs tell me the rules of a beach vacation. Ceramics, made by local artisans, take up important space on shelving and a few clocks remind us that time goes on, even in beach heaven.IMG_1696 (Large)

There is one section that has several dining tables laid with tasteful, nautical place settings and centerpieces. Who wouldn’t want to dine at one of these beautifully themed and appointed tables? Oh, a girl can dream, can’t she?

While I was in D’s yesterday, Donna pointed out to me a rather new line of women’s clothing they are now carrying. Moderately priced and of good quality, they are not what I’d consider “resort wear” but can be worn anywhere. There’s also a great jewelry collection to choose from and stylish handbags. Now, not only our homes can look great but we can look great as we live in them! I love Donna’s way of thinking! IMG_1686 (Large)  IMG_1689 (Large)

D’s Interior Decorating has a great staff of friendly folks that share her  enthusiasm for helping people surround themselves in the colors, textures and style they are looking for. From beachy casual or shabby chic charm, to Southern coastal elegance, they will work with you to create the environment of your dreams. Even if you’re not presently in a decorating project, it’s a wonderful place to get new ideas for later or find that perfect gift for a friend or for yourself!IMG_1712 (Large)

Come by D’s Interior Design and let some of Donna’s artistic creativity rub off on you! You’ll be enchanted the moment you walk onto her porch and through the doors of her showcase store. Don’t be surprised if you feel the urge to sit down in her front porch swing and dream away your afternoon!

D’s Interior Design is located at:

834 NC Hwy. 210, Sneads Ferry, NC  28460


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Carolina Decor and More – It’s what happens when your hobby takes over!

IMG_1650 (Large)Carolina Decor and More – What happens when your hobby takes over?


By Donna Byrd


What happens when your hobby takes over and becomes a full-fledged business? Ask Lara Beaudoin and her mother, Dorene Thornton. They’ll be the first to tell you that sometimes your dreams and hobbies can play tricks with your future!IMG_1640 (1) (Large)

The year was 2011 and Lara, a real estate agent, had acquired a building in Surf City in which to operate her business.  However, the real estate market had slowed down considerably in the area. Her mother, Dorene Thornton, had just retired from Dupont. The two of them had a hobby of collecting vintage items and collectibles and they were looking for a booth in a consignment shop to have a place to display and sell their wares, just a side business.

Instead, they began using the building that was intended to be a real estate office and what was suppose to be a booth supporting their hobby, became their store, Carolina Decor and More. “Overnight, it just blew up,” Lara told me yesterday, when I visited her shop. “It took on a life of its own!”IMG_1610 (Large)

I don’t think they’ve looked back with any regrets. From what I saw yesterday, business was booming. The customers were walking out with packages and everyone was smiling! Lara and Dorene were busy shifting things around, making space for more happy things.IMG_1617 (1) (Large)IMG_1614 (Large)






The ambience of the shop sets up the perfect shopping storm! The moment I walked in, I heard “the great standards” playing on a music system. Louis Armstrong was singing, “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing.” All of a sudden, I felt like I had that “swing,” and could find that perfect little something and yes, even afford it! I was surrounded by a cheerful clutter of beachy decor, glassware, vintage linens, gorgeous jewelry (some new and some antique,) local artwork, shabby-chic furniture and that one of a kind coastal kitsch, that you just have to have…because it makes you smile.

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Lara said that their shop keeps prices below what the same type stores in Wilmington offer. They want to move their product quickly because space is limited. If you visit on one day, the next day the shop may have a completely different look. Merchandise goes fast and is replaced quickly.

Carolina Decor and More also has a FaceBook page that is popular with its customers. It’s updated daily to keep their loyal clientele informed of its ever changing merchandise. Lara believes if you see something you like, don’t miss out on the deal. It may not be there the next day.IMG_1629 (Large)

So, the next time you need some shopping therapy and want to keep it close to home, visit Carolina Decor and More. It will certainly “cure” your ills and be easy on your pocketbook!

Carolina Decor and More is located about a mile or so after you cross the swing bridge over onto the mainland in Surf City. Located on the right, it’s the building that looks like a low country house with a wide wrap around porch, filled with hanging vintage fishing bobbers, flapping flags, bird houses, and vintage goodies. Come see Lara and Dorene. They’ve chosen things that you will love!IMG_1622 (1) (Large) (2)

Carolina Decor and More is located at:

14130 NC Highway 50, Surf City, North Carolina 28445

Hours are from Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ‘til 6:00 p.m.

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Pender Pines Gardening Center: The Happiest Place on Earth – Part One


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By Donna Byrd

I’ve heard people say that the happiest place on earth is Disney World. I know, I get it. Magic Kingdom and all.  I’ll tell you about a magical kingdom.  Since I’ve become a bit of a more, I suppose I could say, “middle aged” woman with grown children, I’ve found a new happy place. My place of bliss is dirty and overrun with plants and vines growing everywhere. It’s a place where my dreams begin and the magic of nature takes over. Yes, Pender Pines Garden Center is the happiest place on earth: the real, “Magic Kingdom” to me.  For those of us who love to put our hands into the rich, loamy soil and create magic, Pender Pines Garden Center is just down the road on Hwy 17, waiting for us to come and experience our “Zen garden” moment.

Located between Surf City and Hampstead, a few miles south of Lowes Home Improvement Store, this wonderful establishment is worth the visit even if you aren’t a gardener. From the moment I turn into the parking lot, my eyes are pleasantly assaulted with banks of cheerful flowers in every color, happy whirligigs in neon pinks, greens and oranges, twirling in the breeze and cobalt blue pots, shining in the bright, coastal sun. My heart does a little flip flop when I glance over to the left and see a good sized pond with a fountain, complete with ducks and a pier with a gazebo.IMG_1478 (1) (Large)

After getting out of my car, the first thing I do is grab a flower cart to pull behind me as I walk and think. I head for the sidewalk that meanders around the pond. It is bordered by several varieties of roses, loaded with blooms, about to burst into clouds of soft, summer lipstick colors.   I pick out some pink Knock-Out roses to go by the sides of my porch steps and put them on my cart. Then, I notice the Weeping Willows that lean toward the water and the orange and gold Koi  as big as my forearm that wait for the customers by the little pier, hoping they’ve bought them a handful of fish food from the “gum ball” styled machine located in the gazebo. All of a sudden, I envision a pond in my yard with a fountain, ducks and Koi. I wonder how long it takes them to grow so big!IMG_1464 (Large)

After I’ve walked around the pond, I spy, with my little eye, some hydrangeas. I decide to get the Pinkie Winkies because their blooms begin greenish-white and turn pink, lasting until the fall. The label on the pot makes them seem so easy to grow and they’ll look great by my back fence. I take three of them and decide this gardening stuff is going to be easier than I thought!

I stop by the annual display. There are rows and rows of red, pink and white geraniums, purple petunias, orange and yellow marigolds, blue daze and pentas, bold zinnias, purple, pink, coral, white and red impatiens, sun loving vincas and coleus, the colorful, leafy plants that remind me of a garden I once tended when I lived in Florida. IMG_1501 (Large)If I don’t want to buy them and plant them, I can look up and see hanging baskets of combinations of these flowers, already done for me! Imagine that! No reason not to have flowers in my yard, on my deck or back porch. I’ll take the easy way out!

There are garden fixtures peeking out between the potted plants. Oval shaped rocks with happy, painted animal and owl faces smile up at me and all of a sudden, I want that happy rock to have a special place in my garden of annuals. I pick it up and put it in a place where it can’t roll off the cart.IMG_1499 (Large)

By now, my cart is pretty much full. I wonder how I’m going to get it all home and suddenly, I see some daylilies, hostas and other perennials up against a green house. I have to walk by and check out these gorgeous babies.  Seeing the society garlic,  I think, “Hey, this would look great mixed in with some yellow daylilies. If I throw  some pretty little balloon flowers in for the borders and and plant some tall, proud purple liatris toward the back,  I’d have a lovely flower bed. Who knew I could plan a whole garden in a short visit to Pender Pines Garden Center?IMG_1498 (Large)

I squeeze in the extra plants and all of a sudden, the sounds of an squawking,exotic bird come from the hot house. Now, this is when things get very interesting! I begin to see that Pender Pines Gardening Center is more than the “Magic Kingdom.” It’s the “Animal Kingdom” too!

(Please continue to read the following blog, Pender Pines Garden Center: The Happiest Place on Earth, Part 2. There was just so much to tell about! Just scroll down a bit and you will find it. Thanks!)

Pender Pines Garden Center is located at:IMG_1540 (Large)

20949 US Hwy. 17 North

Hampstead, NC 28443



Twice as Nice Flea Market and More – it Really Is!

IMG_1247by Donna Byrd

Ok, all you guys and gals out there who can’t pass up a good flea market! Have I got good news for you! One of North Carolina’s top ten flea markets is just a hop, skip and jump from the Topsail Island area. Yes, Twice As Nice Flea Market and More is located on Hwy. 17 North, between Jacksonville and Sneads Ferry and it would be fair to say, “It is Yuuuuge!”

You can’t miss it. I pulled into the parking lot of the monstrous, beige colored building on Sunday afternoon. The place was so busy I could hardly find a parking spot. All types of cars and trucks (some pulling long, covered trailers) were lined up neatly, waiting for their owners to load them up with bargains and treasures they had found on the inside.IMG_1253

I entered the door that had the words, “Flea Market” printed above it in red. I shook my head as I thought of how powerful those two little words were. To bargain hunters like me, they were like water to the thirsty, food to the hungry and crack to the… well, you get the point. Once seen from the road, those words lure us in like flies to honey. We. Cannot. Resist.

The largest indoor flea market in coastal Carolina, Twice As Nice Flea Market, boasts over 100 vendors. It opened on February 1st, two years ago and has since been a favorite place to frequent for those seeking special treasures in southeastern North Carolina and those visiting our lovely coastal communities.IMG_1254

I was almost overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” that greeted me when I walked through the door. Aisle after aisle, one vendor’s booth after another, I was happily assaulted by antiques, repurposed furniture and knick knacks, vintage clothes, suitcases, shoes, hats, pictures, cameras, dishes, glassware, ceramics and pottery, jewelry, linens and lace. There was also a good smattering of new things: candles, lotions, sea decorations (a lot of mermaid things) and baby diapers. Wait…did I say diapers? Yes I did!

I was able to meet the manager, Jill Guzzetti, and she said that new and old treasures come in daily, the merchandise turning over quickly.  She pointed out that prices range from probably $.25 to $500. IMG_1283So literally, there’s something affordable for everyone. Their unofficial slogan is “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it!” I must admit, there is much truth to that statement!

Walking through the flea market, I spent a wonderful Sunday afternoon by myself. After all, everything in there seemed to have been a part of my life at one time or another.IMG_1263

There was an old telephone table like the one that once stood in my grandmother’s hallway. A fat bouquet of garden tools graced the corner of one booth and surely could have been the ones from my grandfather’s shed.

Vintage vinyl album covers from bands I grew up with in the 1970’s were stacked in baskets. I flipped through them, smiling at the memory of my best friend and I at a few concerts.  Toys were scattered throughout the store and many seemed to be like those my children had played with when they were little. There was Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too!IMG_1277

I saw some old Pfaltzgraft Yorktowne dinnerware plates displayed on a shelf and remembered that some friends of ours had that exact china pattern. We had eaten well off of those plates and shared some good times!  However, my best find was an old blue and white wedding ring quilt exactly like the one a friend bought us as a gift, years ago, of course.  After hundreds of washings it had worn out and sadly, I had thrown it away. I wondered if I should buy that old quilt folded there in the basket, for old time’s sake. Decisions, decisions! Be careful when you’re shopping at a flea market and begin to feel like you’re visiting your old life. You may buy everything you see,  if you’re sentimental like me.IMG_1264

The next time you’re visiting Topsail Island and need a break from the sun or if it’s raining and you need something fun to do, it’s worth the short ride to Twice as Nice Flea Market. Or, if you’re riding up Hwy 17 and see the red letters, “Flea Market” on a huge, beige building and your hearts starts palpitating and your car begins to turn all by itself into the parking lot, just remembered you’ve been warned: bargains are on the inside and come with plenty of nostalgia!

Twice As Nice Flea Market is located on 3060 Wilmington Hwy.IMG_1285

Jacksonville, NC 28540


Open 7 days a week except Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter

Mon – Fri 10:00 – 6:00

Sat   –      10:00 – 5:00

Sun  –      12:00 – 5:00


Twice As Nice Flea Market takes debit and credit cards ($10 minimum,) and cash. They don’t take checks.

The Gift Basket – Topsail Beach – Perfection!

IMG_1220by Donna Byrd

I found myself down in Topsail Beach, on the south end of Topsail Island yesterday, in search of a birthday gift for my sister-in-law, Kelly. Although my “go to” shop for gifts on the island is usually The Topsail Island Trading Company in Surf City, I decided I’d give its sister store, The Gift Basket a visit. Located in the oldest Topsail community, I love its charming, quaint vibe and decided that although it was a few extra miles down the island, it would be well worth the drive.IMG_1222

The moment I walked through the door of the two storied blue “little shop around the corner,” I felt myself relax. Every nook, cranny and available foot of space on the floors, walls and under the counters was occupied by something exquisite and delightful. Time seemed to slow down and every object seemed to call my name, saying, “Donna, look at me!”

And look I did! The sun shone through the glassware placed in the windows, causing the room to sparkle and glow. IMG_1201Low laughter from a few customers at the jewelry counter sounded like music and suddenly, I was caught up in the shop’s magic, entering into my own little “shopping world.” There’s nothing like the spell of beach charm to block out the cruel realities of this world. What a perfect diversion on this windy, winter’s day at the beach.

The store’s cheerful owner, Kristen Fleischhauer, happened to be standing behind the counter. I introduced myself and told her I was looking for a gift but that I also would like to write a blog about her special shop. I wanted our vacationers to know about this lovely place and get to experience it like I had. She was more than happy to tell me about it.

Since 1973, The Gift Basket has been one IMG_1195of Topsail Island’s favorite shopping spots. It was the first store on the island to sell fine sterling silver and 14K gold jewelry.  Along with that type of jewelry, Kristin motioned toward the other displays around the room, showing jewelry made by southern artisans out of sea glass, natural stones and lovely gems that were one-of-a-kind, quality pieces.

Of course, The Gift Basket had much more than jewelry. Kristen also pointed out to me the beautiful line of nautical and tide clocks plus some other precision weather instruments behind her on the wall. I was struck by their beautiful, classical design and knew that they would grace any home by or near the water.

Kristen invited me to take a look around IMG_1200the entire store. Not only were there several rooms downstairs to explore, there were some upstairs too! I never knew that!  She said there was such a wide variety of things to choose from you could find anything from a fifty cent wind up toy to a three or four thousand dollar necklace. I took off exploring.

Downstairs, there was of course, the jewelry, gifts for the home and Topsail Island wall art. There was an area with good quality tee shirts, beach hats and sandals for adults and children. I was happy to find a little area of North Carolina food products and some novelty collegiate items for your favorite North Carolina sports teams.

Upstairs IMG_1203was uncharted territory for me. The first space I came across was a Christmas room, filled with beach themed tree ornaments and decorations. I always love a beach shop with a year round Christmas corner. It was perfect!

I stepped through a door and entered the garden room. It was filled with seasonal flags for front porches or wherever a flag could be displayed. There were smaller ones for gardens and walkways. A large display of wind chimes hung from a rack in the corner and some painted garden stones and small statues graced a side table. A few glass bottled chimes and bird feeders hung in the window dividing sunlight like a prism. I think this was my favorite room. It reminded me that spring was around the corner.IMG_1211

The next room was large and filled with ladies wear and accessories. There were shirts, tops and capris made with materials of natural fibers.  I guess it was what I’d call quality resort wear. I loved the selection. There was also a rack of very comfortable looking sleepwear. To me, the merit of a shop is based on the beauty and practicality of its sleepwear. I don’t know. That’s just me, but The Gift Basket received a merit badge from me at that moment!IMG_1216

Colorful, light scarves were displayed as well as handbags. I realized I’d have to come back for another look when I had time to actually try a few things on. Oh my, I didn’t realize this little shop had so much in it!

The last room upstairs was dedicated to children. I suppose that the fifty cent wind up toy was in there, along with kites, old fashioned games I had played when I was little and new ones that I had never seen or heard of. It was a room that adults would love because it contained everything that would make a child happy at the beach. It was insurance for a good time even on a rainy day.

I slowly made my way back down the stairs. I still had to choose a gift for Kelly. When I first came into The Gift Basket I had spotted something I thought she might fancy; some “Featherlite Jewelry” from Greensboro native, artist and designer, Jay Schiavone. They were funky earrings and made from recycled materials. Also, I spotted a lovely, red cookbook entitled, “Taste of Fellowship” from recipes given from  the good folks of the Emma Anderson Memorial Chapel located down the street from The Gift Basket. Kelly collected church cookbooks and this was so well done, how could she not love it?IMG_1204

I paid for my purchases and Kristin asked if I’d like them gift wrapped. Of course I did and it was worth the wait. The package was as lovely and as special as the gift inside.

The Gift Basket is a classy, quality shop with magical qualities.  I recommend you drop by for a visit next time you are on our lovely island. You’ll be charmed and delighted, I guarantee!

The Gift Basket is located at 702 S. Anderson Blvd., Topsail Beach, NC 28445


Christmas Shopping on Topsail Island: There’s Something for Everyone – Part Deux

by Donna Byrd


Fellow Christmas shoppers, as promised, here is Part II of places to shop on Topsail Island. I hope it can give you some good ideas and lead you to the dream shopping spots you need to find!


East Coast Sports

409 Roland Ave, Surf City, NC 28445IMG_2924



For the coastal sportsman, this store is heaven on earth! Located in the “Fishing Village,” in the little mall that looks like a set of row houses in a quaint New England, yes you guessed it, fishing village, this store wowed me with its stock of fishing equipment, bait, tackle, sportswear and shoes for men, women and children. The store is two stories, with the bottom floor showcasing all the fishing gear. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many rods standing up in one place. A fisherman’s dream!


The upstairs carries all of the sportswear and things one might wear when he or she is fishing!  It even has gifts for landlubbers and tee shirts for girls who are from the South or wished they were from the south.  Enter at your own risk, though, because there’s a nautical magic in the air that might turn you into an old salt or a mermaid if you’re not careful!


Bumblebee Gifts

513 Roland Ave., Surf City, NC 28445IMG_2915



“Charm” is the buzzword for this delightful little boutique.  From the moment you enter through the aqua colored door under the yellow and black striped awning, the charm of it all has you oohing and awwing over its eclectic displays of children’s clothing and games, women’s accessories, tops and jackets, shoes, a wall full of colorful, patterned Vera Bradley luggage and handbags, Lilly Pulitzer products, stationery, and the piece de resistance- the candy counter and coffee bar! IMG_2922I know, that last part sounds odd but there is a gorgeous candy counter tucked away amongst the clothing and it’s filled with stunningly beautiful and delicious chocolate confections. And the specialty coffee drinks? Well, you might just have to see for yourself and get your caffeine buzz on and do a little shopping at the Bumblebee!



The Gift Basket

702 S Anderson Blvd, Topsail Beach, NC 28445


10:00a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Traveling south down the beach road to Topsail Beach, I came to an outstanding shop that is a favorite with the locals and vacationers. The Gift Basket is a sister store to Topsail Island Trading Company in Surf City and believe me, it shares the same magic! Located on a corner, it’s the quintessential “Little Shop around the corner” and is jam-packed with some of the best gift offerings on the Island! I once bought a hand-blown glass friendship ball there and it’s one of my most prized possessions.

Not only is there an abundance of glassware, but there are one of a kind beachy gifts, kitchen wares, collegiate presents representing your favorite North Carolina colleges, windchimes and whachamacallits. Of course, it also has nautical clocks and wind and weather instruments. The friendly staff is more than happy to show you their selection of fine gold and silver jewelry, lovely pieces that anyone would be proud to wear. But the fun thing, especially this time of the year, is the Christmas room in the back. It’s full of beautiful ornaments, cards and seasonal knick-knacks.

The Gift Basket has a little something for everyone and could be that one-stop shopping experience that takes care of your entire shopping list!  It’s worth the trip to the south end of the island!


Quarter Moon Books and Gifts

708 S Anderson Blvd. Topsail Beach, NC 28445IMG_20150612_175526635



Since we live on the perfect little island and everything is located exactly where it should be, Quarter Moon Books and Gifts is right next door to The Gift Basket. How convenient is that?  You walk out of one perfect shop and in less time than it takes to say, “quarter moon” you have arrived at one of my favorite places on the east coast, not just Topsail Island.

Quarter Moon Books and Gifts is that cool and cozy little jazzy shop that piques my creative spirit every time I darken its door. What could be better than a shop that boasts a delightful coffee bar (that also makes delicious smoothies) on the right side and a rather sophisticated wine bar on it’s left. This shop has raised the bar on shopping!  Sandwiched in between the “bars” are all the goodies: current books that cater to all interests, a wonderful children’s books section, sterling silver jewelry, home accessories, ethereal beachy treasures and women’s natural fiber clothing, the most soft and comfortable lounging and sleeping clothes I’ve ever wrapped my body in! IMG_1774

In the summer, you can sit out on the patio at night and listen to local musicians under the twinkling stars but during this chilly holiday season I’m just glad I can visit there, get myself a coffee or glass of wine and sit in the comfy little sitting area with the velvet couch near the back and slip into my happy place. Wine and shopping together…does it get any better?


Ok folks, that’s my list of places to shop on our island. I’m sure there are other places I missed and if I did, please leave a comment after the blog and tell everyone about that special place too. Do you have any other Topsail shopping ideas? Let us know! Happy shopping and have a Merry Christmas!



Christmas Shopping on Topsail Island: There’s Something for Everyone – Part 1

by Donna Byrd

Whether you are visiting our fair, little island of Topsail during the Christmas holidays or are lucky enough to call it your home, I have wonderful news! I’ve done a bit of snooping around and found that Topsail Island has plenty of top-notch retail establishments to visit for your Christmas holiday shopping pleasure! IMG_2993 Who wants to get in their car and travel more than thirty or fifty minutes away to Jacksonville or Wilmington when you can just ride down the island road and find a diversity of fine, quality gifts right under your nose? Not me! I’ve decided to do all my holiday shopping right on the island! I’m already imagining my adult children and granddaughters opening their gifts on Christmas morning. Their eyes will light up when they see their “island” treasures!

I’d like to present to you a list of places I visited this week that offer a little something for everyone. I’ve written this blog in two parts because there were more shops than I thought there’d be and there was so much to say about each of them. Please consider shopping on our fair island! I’m sure you can complete your Christmas shopping list right here at home! Thanks for keeping it local and shopping on Topsail!


Herring’s Outdoor Sports

701 N. New River Drive, Surf City, NC 28445IMG_2889


I have driven by this store for five years and always admired its curbside appeal but I actually stopped in Saturday. I knew that it was a kayak outfitters store and that it offered guided tours and rentals but it had so much more to offer! Not only was there kayak supplies but there was also fishing gear, bait and tackle, outdoors apparel for men, women and children, sandals and shoes, hats, kites, wallets, handbags and various and sundry gifts that anyone would love. I also noticed Yeti coolers and products. My son Cody has been eyeing anything “Yeti!”


Surfside Sportswear and Gifts

314 N. New River Drive, Surf City, NC  28445IMG_2896


I love this island shop and frequent it often.  Last year, I purchased a few spiffy outfits to wear to some of my son’s wedding events. Not only did I get some beautiful clothes but I also chose some nice pieces of jewelry to complement my attire from their abundant jewelry selection. Surfside Sportswear and Gifts also offers shoes, swimwear, hats, souvenir tee shirts and sweatshirts, quilts and decorative pillows, lamps, rugs, Christmas cards and ornaments and other gifts. The staff is friendly and so helpful. The store is large and you’ll love the lovely sound of windchimes that greet you when you open the door!


Topsail Island Trading CompanyIMG_2900

201 N. New River Drive, Surf City, NC 28445


10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday – Saturday

One of my favorite shops on the island, Topsail Island Trading Company is a feast for the eyes and taste buds! The minute you walk into the store, the colorful displays of gifts, fine jewelry, resort wear, books, kitchen ware, nautical weather and tide instruments delight you. You’re not sure what to look at first and then you notice the fudge counter on the right side of the shop. You gravitate towards it and the friendly staff offers you a taste of any of the varieties you wish to try and there are dozens of luscious flavors! It’s hard not to walk out with a little treasure box filled with sweet goodness! The best thing, is you can order it online and mail it anywhere! It’s the perfect gift for the person who has everything. Who doesn’t like fudge?


Southern EmporiumIMG_2913

208 N. River Dr. Ste. J, Surf City, NC 28445


I have a friend whose parting words to me are always, “Stay Classy.”  That’s not very hard to do if I shop regularly and fill my home with the southern-styled, upscale,  beautiful things from The Southern Emporium. This charming shop is worth a visit and is dripping with little treasures! The owner, Susan M. Smith, made me feel right at home the minute I entered her door. IMG_2910I was pleasantly surprised at the abundance of all her beautiful things: silver, glassware, recycled aluminum diningware and many types of home decor, baby items, jewelry, and even a bit of women’s clothing. All of those things are hard to say in one breath and in one sentence, but it’s true! It contains each and everyone of these goodies! The merchandise was displayed beautifully and the prices were great. To any of my friends who may be wondering what to get me for Christmas, just get me a little something from the classy, Southern Emporium. I’m sure I will love it!


Part II of this special list of shops is coming up next! Ladies and Gentlemen rev up your engines…It’s time to shop!