Shopping The Hill

South Fourth Street in Highlands has been a shopping destination for so long that it’s become a bit of shorthand. It’s common for locals and first-time visitors to announce that they’re going to visit “on the Hill” without further explanation. 

Here’s what you can expect to find when you decide to see what’s “on the Hill.”

S’More Kids Klothes is the place to go in Highlands for unique and fun children’s clothing. Whether you’re looking for hair accessories, shower gifts, back to school clothes or a dress for a special occasion you should check out S’Mores.

They carry world-class designer clothing from the USA, Spain and Great Britain that can’t be found anywhere else in the valley. This unique store may be small, but it’s packed with charming children’s clothing and accessories that would make any mother or grandmother proud. 

When you visit Highlands, don’t miss this Gem on the Hill! Once you visit, you’ll want to come back for S’More.

Mirror Lake Antiques specializes in estate and contemporary jewelry and sterling silver flatware. The shop also features vintage bar ware, sterling and Victorian plated  hollow ware, flo blue English transfer ware and orientalia. If you notice their ad on  Page 10, you’ll see that owners Donna and Stan Cochran have a soft spot in their hearts and their jewelry collection for opals in all their beguiling color combinations.

One of the newest businesses to join the upscale retail district in Highlands is South Florida-based Wish & Shoes, which opened its fifth store here in May. This unique boutique offers shoppers the utmost in personal service, at a level usually reserved for Rodeo Drive and 5th Avenue.

The space is modern, elegant, and filled with stylish American and European designers offering head-to-toe fashion for women of all ages. You’ll discover lines you can’t find anywhere else in Highlands and right now is the time to shop for your fall and winter fashions with new merchandise arriving daily. This is not tropical resort wear, it’s gorgeous lightweight reversible fox and water-resistant jackets, custom python bags, leather boots, fashion jeans, and hand-loomed sweaters.

With its over 60 years in business, Highlands Gem Shop is a local institution This family-run jewelry store boasts an extensive selection of fine jewelry, antique and estate pieces, and handmade designs.

They can also help with designing a new piece or re-designing an existing piece that you may want to update.

Being the oldest gem shop in Macon County, Highlands Gem Shop also has a wide collection of mineral specimens and rocks.  And for the children, our Touching Department will surely satisfy their curiosity.

And while you’re browsing, check in with resident jewelry designer Suzanne Sloan.  Her fun line, That Sloan Woman, is sure to make you happy.  Her use of natural gemstones, ethnic beads and organic material makes her designs a unique and hip addition to the shop.  All of her designs are one-of-a-kind, so you won’t see another one like it.

When you step into Oakleaf, it’s something of a calculated fall down the Rabbit Hole. There’s a brightness to the place, and a sense of life and its myriad promises, a touch of whimsy, and an
undeniable playfulness.

Part of that is the sensory presentation that greets visitors – the brightness of the fresh cut flowers, the subtle blending of floral and herbal scents, the earthy musk of sheet moss, the sublime garden art that pops up throughout the gallery.

And of course, part of it is owners Kirk Moore and Don Fry. They’ve cultivated that warmth and playfulness that’s so apparent upon the first step into Oakleaf. 

Oakleaf has become the go-to floral designer for elegant weddings around the Southeast. Their partnership with Old Edwards Inn to provide the destination resort with event styling expertise has proved fruitful for both parties (that wonderful smell that infuses OEI’s rooms is Oaklaeaf’s Fragrance Mist). 

Last November, Acorns moved from its original location on Main Street to 212 South Fourth Street and joined the already amazing community of retailers “on the Hill.”  By combining the clothing boutique and home accents shop, customers receive better service and are now able to find a wider variety of goods conveniently located under one roof. 

 In fact, this is an ideal time to visit Acorns, since it’ll be hosting a pair of trunk shows this month. The first will be held October 11 through 13 and spotlights the works of Hazen Jewelry.  What will you see at their trunk show? Exquisitely handcrafted, playful, and feminine accessories that embody both timelessness, elegance, and modern sensibility. The last trunk show of the month will be October 18 through 20 with Fat Hat Clothing Company. They like to say they’re the “cure for the common clothes,” so if you’re looking to add some exceptionally-styled pieces to your wardrobe make plans to attend. All of Fat Hat’s clothing is made in the U.S.A. using soft, delicious fabrics that feel wonderful on your body. 

Stick Candles and Citizen Wilder is the newest store “on the Hill,” yet it’s already established a reputation that extends far beyond the confines of the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau. It’s an enchanting garden wonderland that feels like something encountered by Alice when she slipped through the Looking Glass. Owner/Designer Kris Nelson has crafted a series of garden miniatures for the home, utilizing plants, dried plants, garden ephemera, and every variety of bits and bobs antiques. The resulting art pieces are endlessly fascinating. The shop also features antiques, displays for home and garden and idiosyncratic creations that demand a careful browse. These displays are complemented by a series of astonishing candles created by Co-Owner Doug Collum and his right-hand man Luis. They craft beeswax candles cast from real tree branches, and you can watch them as they work, a fascinating process that you can’t turn away from. Remember what we said about capturing attention far beyond the confines of the Plateau? You’ll find Kris and Doug’s pieces featured in such publications as “Originals:Creative Interiors” by William Abranoswicz; “Home” by Ellen DeGeneres; and “O: The Magazine of Oprah Winfrey.”

Vivace is an upscale ladies boutique for the woman who wants to look her best. It’s the place to shop for savvy, chic women who step out in style.

For over a decade owner Linda Hall and the helpful staff at Vivace have been offering the latest styles in upscale ladies attire. Well-known brands like Vince, White and Warren, Margaret O’Leary, Equestrian, Majestic, Joie are joined by Aquatalia boots and shoes, Charleston shoes and Vaneli. These are just a few of the national and international brands that Vivace carries.

McCulley’s has earned a reputation far beyond the Plateau for carrying one of the largest selections of the Scottish cashmere in the United States. 

In women’s fashions, shoppers can expect to find classic pullovers in every neckline under the sun, fashion-forward tunics, batwing sleeve cables, three-quarter-sleeve boat necks, .an array of cardigan, sporty zip jackets and hoodies, soft, comfy knit coats, capes, stoles, scarves and other accessories. In men’s fashions, there’s a huge selection of solid colors, cable-knits, argyles and hand-loomed intarsia designs.  Classic pullovers in V-neck, crew neck, three-quarter zip mock neck, polo collar,   classic/retro button-front cardigans.

Martha Anne’s...on the Hill, offers shoes and apparel for the independently stylish woman with a sense of fun. Martha Anne has carefully selected this collection, and it’s just as surprising as she is. The fun part of the equation comes out when you consider the shoe selection. There’s a playfulness about the styles that shows Martha Anne is the woman making the decision.  But really, that sense of joy extends to the coats, and clothing, and designer pieces that adorn this charming boutique. Come in for a browse and you’ll be surprised and seduced by this eclectic collection. 

The American Woody:The first generation of depot hacks boasted open bodies constructed of wagon-style solid planking. But by the mid-1910s, closed station wagon bodies became more common and lighter construction was required. The rib-and-panel style that is familiar today made its first appearance on these vehicles and allowed for the first partially enclosed wooden station wagons with side curtains, two or more rows of seats, and side doors. These new wagons could still be considered depot hacks, but were now called Suburbans, Combinations and Country Clubs. (Versions of these names still appear today.) The lower halves of these wagonette bodies resembled the earlier versions and were now combined with a flat roof. These designs found favor with non-commercial customers, and an increasing number of firms began building them. Major manufacturers such as Ford started offering woodies through dealerships, although independent body builders performed the actual construction. The Martin Truck and Body Corp. in York, Pennsylvania, made so many bodies for Ford, Dodge and others during the 1910s and 1920s that they billed themselves as "The Largest Commercial Car Builder in the World." The golden age of the custom wood body maker ended during the Depression, as many of the small independent firms went out of business. Some reorganized and diversified, like the Kentucky Wagon Manufacturing Company, which stopped making wood Ford Model T and Model A bodies (and its own line of automobiles as the Dixie Motor Car Company) and started manufacturing truck trailers. The company is still in business today as Kentucky Trailer. The major automobile manufacturers acquired many others at fire-sale prices during this time. The fortunes of Martin Truck and Body, who called themselves "The Largest Commercial Car Builder in the World," changed dramatically during the Depression. After merging with failed carmaker Parry in 1919, Martin Truck and Body was acquired by Chevrolet in 1930 and became its first in-house commercial truck body division. Ford, with its vast timber operations near Lake Superior, was gaining experience in woody manufacturing. That experience would be put into practice in 1936 when a plant opened at Iron Mountain that built complete wood wagon bodies that were then shipped to Ford plants around the country for final assembly. While Ford was the only manufacturer building woodies from the ground up, there were still coachbuilt versions available based on GM, Chrysler, Packard, Willys, Hupmobile, Graham, Hudson, Studebaker and even American Bantam chassis. The trend toward luxury continued through the 1930s, although woody amenities lagged far behind those in production automobiles. Pontiac, for instance, did not offer full glazing until 1939. As the country began to recover economically, woodies were increasingly perceived as upscale vehicles and sales rose accordingly. Ford easily maintained its dominance, selling almost 10,000 redesigned Standard and DeLuxe station wagons in 1940 alone. Chrysler introduced its first truly car-quality woody, the Town & Country, in March of the following year. It boasted an all-steel roof and a white ash and mahogany body by Pekin Wood Products of Helena, Arkansas. With Willys, Buick, Pontiac and Plymouth all getting serious about passenger comfort in their woodies, things were about to heat up when the manufacturers were told to cease production of passenger cars and contribute to the war effort. A trickle of cars continued for a brief time, but all domestic automobile production had ended by March of 1942. Ford continued to produce a small number of Ford and Mercury woody sedans and ambulances used during the war. We reach Crystal Cove and its landmark Shake Shack and pull in to switch drivers. Remembering the earlier starting difficulty, we leave the Ford idling while photographer Joseph Puhy shoots some images. Little do we know, the ethanol-laced modern gas blend is busy vaporizing in the fuel line, a common Ford flathead V-8 problem. It happens on the uphill leaving the Shake Shack, the woodie chugging slower and slower, until it can’t chug anymore. Now we’re stranded beside the Coast Highway, with Audis and Acuras zipping past at speed. Bad scene. With no luck re-firing the engine, I resort to bump-starting it backward downhill. This works, and the ’34 has just enough power to get us turned around and find safe haven in a nearby park. But the woodie’s day is over. “I think this has cured me of wanting an old car!” Dean says, laughing. Oddly enough, another “Surf City” lyric has portended our current situation: “And if my woodie breaks down on me somewhere on the surf route/Surf City, here we come/I’ll strap my board to my back and hitch a ride in my wetsuit.” With the photo and video teams close behind, our rescue isn’t quite that dramatic, and we all safely return to the museum in modern cars, leaving the generous McPherson and his beautiful ’34 awaiting Hagerty Plus Roadside Service. The last great year of the woody was, by some accounts, 1949. Handcrafting complicated and maintenance-intensive wood frames and panels was becoming very difficult to justify in the red-hot, new-car market. The epochal Chrysler Town & Country switched to Dinoc vinyl (still available in aftermarket "wallpaper woody" kits today) with ornamental ash framing, and the 1949 Ford used all-steel construction with experimental plywood-like panels that underwent a dramatically high rate of failure. General Motors abandoned wood framing after 1948, and from 1948 through 1951, Packard produced station wagons with window framing and ornamental wood door trim by Briggs Manufacturing. The few coachbuilders that survived the Depression and World War II were again in jeopardy during the 1950s. Despite efforts to make the transition to more modern products such as hearses and other steel bodies, the wood-body manufacturers, steeped in old-world hand craftsmanship, were almost all gone by the end of the decade. Car design and manufacture, as well as the tastes of the car-buying public, were undergoing radical changes and the woody, redolent of 1930s and 1940s country clubs, fell from favor. The Chrysler Town & Country was discontinued in 1951, and while Fords continued to sell well, they now increasingly used vinyl and paint instead of real wood. The 1953 Buick wagons were the last real woodies from any major American manufacturer. Various wallpaper woodies or "vinylies" are still offered by Detroit to this day, but the age of the real woody ended in 1953. Fiberglass would come to substitute for ash and Dinoc for mahogany. It was a slow death, and the last real wood exterior trim of any kind on an American vehicle appeared on the Dodge Adventurer 150 "Li'l Red Express Truck" option available in 1978 and 1979.By the time I had my summer epiphany in San Diego, woodies were already in their second incarnation as an American icon. Furniture makers constructed the first of them on truck frames in the late 1920s. The car replaced the horse-drawn vehicles–jitneys or hacks–that had hauled passengers from train depots to hotels. Woodies were, literally, “station wagons,” and you’ll see them turn up. In Southern California, the place to see any style in wood cars is the annual Wavecrest meeting, held every September at Moonlight Beach near San Diego. Trophies are given for Best 1960s Surfing Woodie and Best Hot Rod Woodie. There are big-money restorations and Model A’s with rotting wood, Buick Estate Wagons with fewer than 50,000 miles on the odometer and more Town and Country wagons than Pasadena’s Rose Parade. Lovely as these ghosts are, there’s nothing that can duplicate your first time. Nearly 40 years ago, on the afternoon when I saw that first woodie in a San Diego gas station, I was just way to my part-time job in a suit and tie. What I watched from across the street was a preview of another kind of life, one that was raw and vital, one where a whole world was spread out along the coast waiting to be discovered. It was a moment that changed my life–because that day I quit my job and started surfing.