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Living in Market Common – aka The Bubble

By Kelly Renee Fentress

Living in Market Common – aka The Bubble

Welcome to the bubble! Well, technically Sweetgrass West in Market Common. You know, those colorful Charlestonian homes across Farrow Parkway from the shops and restaurants? That’s my neighborhood, my forever home. My happy place. A place many of us who live here jokingly refer to as The Bubble. Why? Because we are spoiled with the beach, delicious restaurants, shops, boutiques, biking groups, movies, gyms, the beautiful lake for walking our pups or running, and, for those with littles, Savannah’s Playground (Miss Savannah herself actually lives in our neighborhood), all within walking, biking or golf cart distance.

We could go months and never leave our little bubble because many of us live and work here too.I moved to Market Common three years ago this month. (Happy “Houseaversary” to me!) I moved from an area of the beach that is very busy, extremely overcrowded and, let’s just say, not my happy place. Upon looking into the Sweetgrass West neighborhood, I immediately discovered how positive and welcoming folks are. There is a sense of community here unlike I have experienced on the beach, and I’ve lived in Myrtle Beach for 22 years.

Knowing my neighbors, and loving them, is such a blessing! We have quite a diverse group of folks of all ages, backgrounds and interests, yet we come together to celebrate, well, pretty much anything. Even a typical Thursday night could be cause for jumping on golf carts or our electric bikes, and meeting for dinner, drinks or both.

Everyone knows about “Salt Life.” Well, here in the bubble we have “Porch Life.” We just need the t-shirts and stickers! It’s a given that on any night you can fill a glass, walk your dog and wind up on a friend’s porch or sitting around a fire pit chatting and laughing. Our neighborhood is close, and it’s a way of life that we love. From oyster roasts, New Year’s Eve ball drops, girls’ nights, Valor Park events, to full-on neighborhood get togethers in the park, or, again, just living that porch life…we love our bubble. I have a local friend who told me, “When I grow up I want to live in your sorority where you just go from porch to porch socializing with a glass of wine.” It sounds silly but that’s a pretty accurate description.

Not everyone is a permanent resident here, but we are all close. I can count more people that know how to enter my home in case of emergency than do not in our hood. Ellen Byrd and Sabrina Bundy live in Rock Hill, but have a home they plan to retire to eventually. Sabrina explained to me that she “grew up going to Spring Maid Beach,” and continued, saying, “I love the walking environment, Pedego biking groups, and look forward to coming as often as possible to see my friends and socialize.”

Ellen added that she “loves the people – both visitors and residents in Market Common – as everyone always seems to have a smile.” Wearing her own smile, she continued, saying, “I love the laid-back atmosphere, and if I didn’t venture away from Market Common, I would never know I was in one of South Carolina’s top tourist destinations.”

That is so very true. Not only do we have, what we think, is “it all” right here in our neighborhood, but we don’t have to fight the Bypass or Kings Hwy to get to any of it. We don’t have the noise, the neon or the nonsense you think of when you’re living in a tourist town. Don’t misunderstand me. We do venture out of the bubble and even do so with our friends from the neighborhood. Many times you will find us at the Marsh Walk in the Inlet, or at our favorite hot spots such as Dunes Bistro, Strong Water, RipTydz or maybe even Rustic Table in Pawleys. We get out. Many of us have even traveled together…we just love what we come home to even more.

I can grocery shop, boutique hop, fill up my gas tank or my tummy, get my hair and nails done, take in a movie, listen to a live band, attend a dance class, hit the gym, dip my toes in the ocean, see a doctor or dentist if needed, rent an electric bike (Most locals here own one and go on frequent outings together!), go bowl a few rounds, go fishing for a bit, take my furry babies to the vet or dog park, stock the liquor cabinet and even get a massage – all without leaving my neighborhood. Now that’s a well-rounded bubble!

Michelle Robert, a local artist, mom and entrepreneur who has even worked with the Washington Redskins, told me, “…there is no other community like it in this area.” She loves the fact that she is within walking distance to all she wants and needs. Continuing, Michelle says “it is not just a community, but a lifestyle, and my neighbors are more like extended family.” Having a daughter in college who lives at home, Michelle added, “My daughter is able to come home between classes at HGTC and her job at 810 Billiards and Bowling. What more could we ask for?”

Aaron Maynard retired from the Air Force in 2014, and he and his wife, Michele, chose Market Common not only as their home but also as the home of Pedego Electric Bikes, Aaron’s business here. Michele is quick to tell you that, “there is always something going on and our community is a friendly mix from all over.” Having been in the Air Force and lived all over the world, both Aaron and Michele say that the work/live atmosphere reminds them of their time in Europe. Aaron pointed out that they’ve lived in Market Common for five years, the longest they have ever lived in one place and plan on staying for many years to come! He also says that Market Common “checked off all of the boxes for a wonderful place to call home. We love how it’s growing, offering something for almost anyone – young, not so young, single, couples and families. I wouldn’t live, work or play anywhere else!”

Cal Harrelson, our neighbor, friend, artist and real estate agent, as well as knower and lover of all things Lowcountry, says that he loves friends stopping by his front porch to chat and even have a glass of wine. Cal continued, saying, “this is exactly where my Dad grew up hunting squirrels, deer and turkey with his little dog Blackie. My grandfather, the first Mayor of Myrtle Beach, and his Council, built our first airport called Harrelson Municipal Airport, now of course called Myrtle Beach International Airport.” Cal is our famous artist with his “Calmetto” paintings gracing the homes of Ambassador Nikki Haley, President and Mrs. Trump, The South Carolina State Museum and the South Carolina Governor’s Mansion. Those of us who call him friend and neighbor have been gifted holiday ornaments, t-shirts, and even pumpkins with his artwork. Our bubble is the best!

Another neighbor, friend and world traveler, Joanne Gianndrea also loves calling the bubble her home. She relocated to the area to simplify her life and says it’s been wonderful. When looking at homes and neighborhoods, she found Market Common, in particular Sweetgrass West, appealing because she wanted to live in a “porch” community providing social interaction on a daily basis. She also says that she wanted accessibility to restaurants, shopping, and, as one who travels often; the airport location was a bonus! “Market Common has become ‘home’ for me. Family is only a flight away!” says Joanne.

Other bonuses that come with living in this beautiful place? We are on the very end of Myrtle Beach. Barely in the city, but we have all of the benefits of being a Myrtle Beach city resident. Cal touched on the historical aspect for his family, and I have to say I love the rich history of the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.

The city did an outstanding job with Market Common, keeping the history alive. There are standing plaques throughout the parks, shopping district and even our neighborhoods. These plaques highlight various Air Force members, as well as buildings that used to occupy specific areas of Market Common.

The church just a block from my home, for instance, is the original church from the Air Force Base. I walk my dogs past it at night and wonder about the stories those brick walls could tell. I remember driving into the “backgate” (when there was an actual gate) down the long winding tree-lined road, now Farrow Parkway, to a haunted house (this was 22 years ago). That haunted house (which was terrifying!) is now home to the Red Cross on Pampass Drive. Previously, that same building was the Air Force Base’s hospital. I can see this building from my home, and again, I wonder what stories could be told from those walls. I love our history being a part of my today and my future.

I’m sure the folks of the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base never imagined that their home would eventually be the home of Market Common – the shopping, restaurant and festival mecca of Myrtle Beach. To those of us lucky enough to live here it is the gem of the beach, and we are so fortunate to call it home. We love our bubble!

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