‘Southern enthusiasts’: After relocating to Beaufort from the West Coast, Corey and Ann Higgins open Scout Southern Market

in Profile by

Corey Higgins, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, met his wife, Ann, in her hometown of  San Francisco.

He said, “We dated, fell in love, and got married on April 18, 1998 — a memorable date, as it’s the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which the city celebrates each year. We got married in the only church that survived the earthquake with the throngs of tourists and locals rejoicing all around, we felt like it was for us. It sounds romantic, and it was!”

Corey and Ann Higgins are seen at the grand opening of their store Scout Southern Market on Bay Street.
Corey and Ann Higgins are seen at the grand opening of their store Scout Southern Market on Bay Street.

By the time they decided to move to Beaufort, Corey had spent more than 20 years working in design and marketing for a video game company based in Redwood City, California. Says Corey, “It was a fantastic experience and a great ride but it was time to get off the roller coaster. I wanted less travel, more family time and to pursue a business that my wife and I could do together.”

Ann, whose degree was in fashion merchandising, was the one who got Beaufort on their radar. She said, “Our first visit to Beaufort was 15 years ago.  Corey had an eight-week sabbatical from work and we decided to take the time to travel the U.S. I had recently read the book ‘Beach Music’ and wanted to see if Beaufort was as romantic and beautiful as Pat Conroy describes. It most certainly is! We spent a lovely day strolling the Point and soaking in the beauty and elegance of Beaufort. We were fortunate to see a lot of towns and cities on that trip, but the one place that stuck in our minds the most was that little gem of a town tucked away in the Sea Islands. Over the past 15 years we continued to visit and eventually decided to make the move.”

One year ago, the Higgins family moved to a house on the Point from San Francisco, and Beaufort turned out to be everything they hoped it would.

They have two wonderful children — Emma, 13, and Rowan, 10, who both attend Beaufort Academy.

Says Corey, “I love how welcoming and supportive everyone has been. We come from a place where everyone is glued to their smart phones, pre-occupied and over-scheduled. I love that in Beaufort a simple hello can, and often does, turn into a pleasant and genuine conversation.”

Ann adds, “We also love that we have a wide variety of friends — all from different places, different careers and different ages. Southern culture inspires me. It’s a region unlike others. Southerners are proud of their traditions and style. I think those who have traveled to the South, or relocated to the South, want a piece of it in their lives.”

That thinking is what led Ann and Corey to open Scout Southern Market on Bay Street in downtown Beaufort. Says Ann, “Our mission with the store is to capture the Southern lifestyle. Corey describes me as a ‘Southern enthusiast.’ I love to discover new things and searching for products and people that inspire me. I get to work directly with amazing and talented people, from local furniture makers to specialty food aficionados.”

Adds Corey, “You have to be passionate about what you do. It sounds cliché but it’s true. I’ve never worked with someone more passionate about her job than my wife, Ann. It’s been a thrill to support her after she has supported my career for so many years.”

And Ann appreciates the support — from Corey, her children and the town. She said, “Truly, the sincere support from Beaufortonians is amazing. First welcoming us to the area and now dropping by the store giving me well wishes every day.”

Says Corey, “I’d like to give a shout out to the delivery men and women who service downtown Beaufort. It can be a tricky and stressful job. I never really realized it until I started helping unload commercial refrigerators and dining room tables. Thank you! You know who you are!”

Ann has loved the whole store experience, especially talking with customers. She says, :As a small store owner, it changes every day.  I’m thrilled with how well received the store has been and now my focus is greeting customers and sharing the interesting stories about the Southern-sourced items in our store, which is a thrill and very rewarding.”

Corey describes his job at Scout Southern Market with a smile: “I’m in charge of back office logistics, the marketing guy, and errand boy. Whatever I can take off of Ann’s plate so she can focus on our customers and the store experience.”

While volunteering to help rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Corey and Ann first heard the word “lagniappe.” Says Corey, “When we were working through the store concept, we wanted to deliver some ‘lagniappe’ to Beaufort. It’s a Creole word we learned in New Orleans that means ‘a little somethin’ extra.’ Our ‘lagniappe’ is the Sweet Tea Bar in the rear of the store. We wanted to offer our guests some delicious Southern snacks and the chance to ‘sip and shop’ their way through the store.”

Their specialty is the Scout Southern Market Iced Tea Float. The tall glass of iced tea topped with lemon or peach sorbet has been a hit with customers.

As for the future, Ann says, “I am determined to volunteer at Hunting Island when my schedule settles down a bit.  I have made it a life goal to help the sea turtle hatchlings and plan to host events and raise awareness through Scout Southern Market.”

The Higgins also joined Historic Beaufort Foundation and Open Land Trust before they moved to Beaufort, and say they have enjoyed learning more about the area through these organizations.

Corey says there are plans for an online store in the future, but for now he said, “It’s important for us to get the store experience right before focusing on other things.”

Be sure to drop by Scout Southern Market and welcome Ann and Corey to the neighborhood.

Scout Southern Market is located at 709 Bay Street, Beaufort. For more information, call 843-379-2282 or visit www.scoutsouthernmarket.com.