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Living the sweet life

By Nicole K. Gardner + Photography by Kim Smith Photo


Nicole Gardner is the owner of The G-Free Spot, a gluten-free restaurant and bakery at Main Street Village on Hilton Head Island.

LOCAL Life asked Nicole Gardner to share her thoughts on what it means to be local. Gardner is the owner of The G-Free Spot, a gluten-free restaurant and bakery on Hilton Head Island. LOCAL Life welcomes letters to the editor and comments to our website. Write to [email protected].

It was 10 years ago that my husband, Shawn, and I decided to move our little family to the Lowcountry. Along with our children, Ean (10), Conner (7), and Hailey (3), we were full of excitement at the prospect of finding a new home, making new friends, living near grandparents who had been distant until now, and building a new life for our family; one that was in a much warmer climate than that which we were accustomed to. Of course, there was apprehension around leaving the life we had built and the family that surrounded us in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. 

The Lowcountry did not disappoint. It is a place that welcomes visitors and new residents alike, with open arms, smiles, and a sense of belonging, even though you’re new to the area. It is the place we felt we could grow as a family, as individuals, as people within a community; to be part of something so much bigger than ourselves. 

In the nearly 10 years that we have lived here, we have all done just that. Our children have attended Hilton Head Island schools, have been involved in activities and sports, and learned so much from the many different people who surround us and contribute to our lives every day. It is the place where businesses are built, chances are taken, people are supportive, and everyone seems to be living their best life. 

I’ve often noted that the people of Hilton Head are some of the happiest I have ever known — we are here because we choose to be; we are here to contribute, to make a difference, and to leave our little island better every day; we are a part of a community that embodies the concept that “the whole is always much bigger than the sum of our parts.” 

The Lowcountry has provided us with the opportunity to be successful, grateful, humble, and kind — it has shaped us and our family in such a way that there is no doubt, this was meant to be our home. And this is what it means to be a local to me.” LL