May 2018

Coastal Treasures: It’s All About the Feel-Goods

Author: Lynnie Leavenworth | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

With their primary residence located out-of-state, owners Joan and Jack Shea are still the heart and soul at Coastal Treasures, their delightful gift, jewelry, and home decor shop in Harbour Town on Hilton Head Island. They’ve made it all happen by smartly selecting and supporting a team of just the right people who create a vision for the shop and execute the daily operations. Going the distance to provide unparalleled service, not to mention gorgeous gift wrapping for every tiny trinket or grand gift, Florence, Mary, Gloria, and Kathy, each with a unique set of experiences and abilities, warmly welcome customers, making every day rather sweet here.

Coastal Treasures is snuggled into their magnificent location overlooking the iconic lighthouse in the Harbour Town yacht basin, and arguably behind the most-expansive rocking-chair-lined porch in the South; the shop’s interior is a whimsical, sparkling backdrop created by local interior design group, J. Banks Design. Every aspect was reimagined when the Sheas purchased it in late 2015. In its third incarnation, the Coastal Treasures Harbour Town locale has been home to two previously loved gift stores. Under the guidance of Kathy Kaess, the shop’s manager and buyer, the shop’s third act is nothing short of exactly what we’re looking for. Filling the shelves and cases and nooks and crannies with irresistible treasures, Kaess, who worked for both of the previous shops, has brought her charming, creative, enthusiastic, colorful aesthetic to the party. It is as though she has been building her retail repertoire just for this role.

“When we were creating the Coastal Treasures look, Jack and Joan were generous enough to give me the creative control to select everything and work directly with our designer at J. Banks,” Kaess said. “The shop’s colors, finishes, and lighting are magically vibrant and soothing at the same time, and Kaess brought her own artistic talents to merchandising the store, from imaginative designs to hand-painted fabrics and wood displays.

Traveling the world as a corporate meeting planner for years, Kaess seems to have an endless reservoir of energy and the ability to see possibilities. “It’s exciting. I see endless possibilities because I’ve seen so many different cultures and different ways of doing things. So many people say that to be a buyer you need to think outside-the-box, and you need to think about what other people want, not just about yourself. My hope is that there is something here for everyone. No matter who happens to land on our doorstep, I believe we’ve created an atmosphere of gifts and price points that are will appeal to them.

“My approach to buying is a bit about buying from my gut,” Kaess said. “Everything here definitely shows my personality.” Focused on elegant living and thoughtful giving, there is nearly no occasion, need, or wish that cannot be met at Coastal Treasures. Home accessories and gifts include candles, bags, totes, stationery, books, tableware, Hilton Head Island-specific items, including local wines, chocolates and sweets, Mariposa serving pieces, and artwork. Pieces by artist Catherine Schweitzer, who has homes in eastern Pennsylvania and on Hilton Head Island, are available and on display at Coastal Treasures.

In addition to gifts and accessories, Coastal Treasures jewelry selection stands out … and usually flies off the shelves. “Jewelry has really become one of our niches,” Kaess said. “With a variety of price-points, we have something for everyone.” A few of the lines they carry include Meghan Browne, John Medeiros, Little Fish Boateak, and Lizzy James. A special line of pearl rings and bracelets made on St. Simons Island by Gardi Wood have become heirlooms. “Grandmas will come in and say I have six granddaughters and this is my gift to them.”

Not a single visitor to Coastal Treasures goes without attention, including the four-legged ones. “We have a Doggie Bar outside the shop with water and treats,” Kaess said. “Locals who have become our great friends, and the rocking chair crowd, they all bring their dogs, and they all come right to us.” Legend has it that more than one dog has been seen jumping off the deck of a boat on to the dock while the boat was still moving, in order to leap the shrubbery and get to the Doggie Bar.

Jack and Joan Shea believe in Harbour Town, and as owners of three shops there, Coastal Treasures, Knickers menswear shop, and Nell’s Harbour Shop, they are part of the fabric of the local community. “Even though they aren’t physically at the store a lot, they are ever-present,” Kaess said. And when Joan Shea is there, if children are in the store, she is often found on the floor reading stories.

Supporting and encouraging Kaess’s buying adventures and vision for their store allows the entire team to service customers well; whether helping choose a gift, arrange for delivery (sometimes making the delivery themselves), gift wrapping, sharing local lore, or making restaurant recommendations, Coastal Treasures is a creative hub where visitors and locals enjoy passing some time.

Kathy Kaess, Coastal Treasures Store Manager/Buyer

“What I have found is that in this day-and-age, it’s about the happy things,” Kaess said. “It’s about the signs with encouraging words; it’s about the frames that you put pictures of your family in; it’s about the candles with scents that mean something to you. For me, it’s the feel-goods. When I’m here, I feel like I’m in my own little bubble.” And you are cordially invited to enjoy Coastal Treasures’ little bubble of color, whimsy, and fun for yourself.

Coastal Treasures is located at 149F Lighthouse Road, Hilton Head Island. For more information, please call (843) 671-3643 or visit

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