The Market Common of Myrtle Beach intrigues waiting shoppers
By Jessica Foster of The Sun News
For Myrtle Beach resident Lacy Miller, just the mention of The Market Common of Myrtle Beach conjures up visions of the horse statue poised outside P.F. Chang's China Bistro.
"The fact that they're coming to the [former] Air Force base in Myrtle Beach is amazing because it's like right there," said 17-year-old Miller. "I heard they have amazing food."
It will be the Arizona-based restaurant's first foray into South Carolina, and The Market Common of Myrtle Beach has scarcely been mentioned in recent months without the name "P.F. Chang's" following close behind.
"You would think that P.F. Chang's is going to change the face of this marketplace," joked Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean. He said the Asian-inspired eatery, which has a loyal following in many major metropolitan areas, had been rumored to be expanding here for years, and it's often come up among tourists' requests for new restaurants.
Stores in The Market Commonof Myrtle Beach, a retail and housing development on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, have been creating quite a buzz among local shoppers.
When the shopping hub launches Thursday, it will bring about 40 local and national stores and Myrtle Beach restaurants, some of which are opening their first locations on the Grand Strand.
The Market Common of Myrtle Beach will kick off with a noon ribbon cutting Thursday on Howard Avenue, with officials including Gov. Mark Sanford and Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes. Opening events will last through the weekend with live music, fireworks and other activities.
The Market Common of Myrtle Beach's opening is a major milestone for the former Myrtle Beach airforce base, which has been closed for 15 years while various developers tried and failed to come up with a successful concept for the base.
One of The Market Common's new arrivals, Pottery Barn, is sure to get a visit from Barbara Girardi of Myrtle Beach. The furniture retailer founded in lower Manhattan has more than 197 locations including two in South Carolina: in Charleston and Greenville.
"I like the style of furniture and the accessories," Girardi said. "There's one in my daughter's area in Jacksonville, Fla."
The Piggly Wiggly opening in the development has also ridden the wave of anticipation. Its claim to fame is a new layout that groups foods based on what they are rather than how they're prepared.
Lori Lee Mendieta, 33, of Murrells Inlet, plans on doing some shopping there.
"It's supposed to have a great organic selection," she said. Anthropologie -- a women's clothing, accessories and home decor retailer new to the area -- is another store she can't wait to peruse.
She said The Market Common of Myrtle Beach will boost the Myrtle Beach shopping scene. The area has three major malls, outlet centers and other shopping/entertainment complexes.
"I think it definitely gives it more of an Atlanta feel," Mendieta said, especially because it incorporates a live/work environment often found in major cities.
For other residents, the possibility of heavy traffic will be reason enough to stay away no matter how attractive the stores are.
Joe and Irene Caulder of Myrtle Beach don't plan on going there.
"It's really beautiful, but they can have it," Irene Caulder said.
Mendieta has a solution: She'll do her shopping before the mass of tourists arrive for the summer.
"I'll definitely go before the tourists hit and then stay away between June and August," Mendieta said.
The excitement is not only about the stores and restaurants themselves, but it's also because major retailers seem to be recognizing Myrtle Beach as a lucrative place to expand, said Coastal Carolina University research economist Don Schunk.
"I don't know if it's so much that we're getting a P.F. Chang's or if it's the idea that we're the type of area that's starting to attract chains like P.F. Chang's," Schunk said. "It kind of makes you feel like