Per•spi•cas•ity celebrates 30 years of New Urban Retail success
In 1983, as the town of Seaside was just beginning to come to life, co-founder Daryl Davis opened the Seaside Saturday market, where customers could shop for fresh produce, baked goods and arts and crafts while lingering awhile to visit and enjoy the fresh Gulf breeze.
The open-air market quickly became a popular gathering spot, and within a year Davis, along with her dear friend Mary Patton, experimented in expanding the market to include cotton T-shirts, simple sun dresses, straw hats and bags, colorful pottery and one-of-a-kind items for the cottages. They named the business Per-spi-cas-ity, a deliberate misspelling (to aid pronunciation), a word meaning keenness of insight. Renowned architect, Deborah Berke, was commissioned to design the market to resemble a primitive forum in a tiny ancient Roman Town. The result was a beachside courtyard enclosed by 8’x8’ simple wooden structures with stretched canvas to provide shade.
Thirty years later, shoppers are still perusing wares in the original beachside cabanas, which now feature clothing and accessories that can transcend the Seaside lifestyle from one year to another. Each little 64 square-foot hut is arranged like a vignette so the customer has an idea of how to wear the style.
For many, Per•spi•cas•ity represents the foundation of Seaside history and the beginning of New Urbanism retail, withstanding newer developments, impending competition and many hurricanes. To those who have shopped these simple huts year after year, Per•spi•cas•ity remains one of the simple, quirky pleasures that make us all love Seaside.
As we celebrate three decades in business, we look back fondly at the early days of Seaside’s celebrated retail hub.