Saturday, March 22, 2014

Clue: What Was One Of The Most Successful March Events In The Lowcountry--Third Thursday In Summerville

With the clues strategically scattered about, the game was afoot. The location: the downtown district of the Birthplace of Sweet Tea, historic Summerville. The time: Third Thursday. It would be an evening when no one was above suspicion and everyone looked guilty, especially the proprietors of the local businesses--guilty of pleasure that is. With the necessary green assets in hand, I set out onto The Sweet Tea Trail to solve the crime of the century--who bumped-off the Mayor, the crime scene, and the weapon used?

A short walk from the free parking garage was Short Central--an appealing section of bricked-road closed to automobiles lined with shops and outside dining. It was beginning to fill up with residents and visitors. The usual Third Thursday tables of arts and crafts were scattered about.

My first destination was Four Green Fields. I quickly surveyed the interior of the crafty gallery and lured into sampling a spicy Asian concoction called CO Singapore--a fruitless attempt by the proprietor to distract me from apprehending my first clue. With a little assistance from an innocent bystander, I zeroed in on the clue, pocketed it, and slipped out the door. My next stop was Simple to Sublime.

Upon entrance I was greeted by the owner, Samantha, who proceeded at trying to win me over with her insatiable British charm and infectious smile; I am a push over when it comes to interesting accents. I successfully resisted. While checking out a rack of unusual looking flip-flops made from recycled tires, she offered me a glass of red wine, perhaps another attempt to weaken my keen senses. Unwittingly on he part, the wine led me to the clue I was seeking. I nonchalantly picked it up and politely exited. I pressed on.

Piazza Home and Art Central Gallery were packed with patrons. I was able to blend in with the crowd at Piazza and went about my business relatively unnoticed--a skill I had acquired over the years in my travels around the Lowcountry. In Art Central, I interrogated one of the employees about an artistically painted rocking chair. "It's part of the Summerville ROCKS initiative. They will be auctioned off to support a scholarship for a local art student and other community charities," she informed. I took some necessary pictures to be uploaded later for further scrutiny.

Next, family owned, family made Downtown Crossing was a challenge. Co-owner, Sarah, was suspiciously evasive when I tried to engage her in some conversation, as if she was purposely obstructing me from the clue. She began to reel off a host of quotes from a murder/mystery movie. The ruse worked, I had no Clue what she was talking about. Her partner, Jewel, entered the retail area and gave me a cold stare that sent chills down my spine. She became a prime suspect. Despite the setbacks, I persevered and acquired the proof I came there for.

And so, I went from Central to W. Richardson to Cedar, from business to business--Relic Revival, Southern Belle Epoque, Savvy Rose, and so-on and so-on--People, Places and Quilts quite possibly could be the longest store in Summerville.

Acquiring the clue at Eat/Sleep/Play was kids play and Off the Wall Art Gallery was curiously cooperative. The charming couple attempted to bribe me with a beer all the while masterfully doing their level best to frame one of the other local proprietors, Brad Mallett of Coastal Coffee Roasters. Misdirection or was their actions genuinely sincere? I was looking for baba ganoush, but found no traces of the Levantine dish. I was in need of more clues to sort out these unknowns.

Hutchinson Square was bustling with activity. Muscle cars lined one end and the Wounded Warriors occupied the other. The smell of Kettle corn laced the tall oaks scattered about. Underneath the trees long branches, the gathering crowd danced in the street to the rock tunes of the ever popular Vistas. I filtered through the happy partiers acquiring more pictures and recording more video to sift through later on. I sat at one of the sidewalk tables outside of Accent On Wine and discreetly gleaned the chatter of the patrons as they munched on cheese platters and hoisted glasses of wine and beer to their lips.

I analyzed the evidence collected thus far. The guilty suspect was narrowed down to two--the what and the where were still unclear. Darkness was emerging and the 8:00 pm hour was rapidly nearing. Six more establishments were my targets--all on Town Square.

Walking S. Main, I came across more painted rocking chairs. Among the targeted shops were Guerin's Pharmacy; the oldest pharmacy in South Carolina and Homegrown Brewhouse; a brewpub in the heart of Downtown. Considered Third Thursday hotspots, neither yielded any usable leads. Although, a quick stop at the Summerville Dorchester Museum around the corner on East Doty Ave, the pick up point for the Trolley Tours, proved very informative.

Back on the Town Square, the music had ended and the crowd was beginning to disperse. The vendors were dismantling their booths. It was time to rap up my investigations for the evening. I returned to Accent On Wine to enjoy a parting beer. Reflecting back on the night's activities, all evidence overwhelmingly pointed to another successful Third Thursday in Summerville. The next date of interest: Monday, March 24th. The three clues will be revealed and the winning investigators announced. "Elementary, my dear Collins, elementary."

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