When Annette Newbill Trujillo decided to open an art gallery at Seaside 25 years ago, she was opening as a first-time gallery owner.
Coming from a teaching and corporate background to opening an art gallery was quite different for the new entrepreneur, but she knew what was required as she had watched her parents.
Trujillo opened the gallery she named Newbill by the Sea on March 15, 1993, a year that was not remembered for its good economic barometer, and on the heels of a terrible thunderstorm that had come through the night before. Trujillo had invited all of her Birmingham friends to come down for her opening, but none could get out of Birmingham due to heavy snow and blizzard-like conditions they had experienced two nights prior.
So if the opening was the gauge for how things were going to go, Trujillo had no reason to feel encouraged. That is, unless one takes into consideration the fact that she was very excited about her new venture in a town that was just 12 years old, and all new and fresh, and her opening coincided with the Seaside Prize weekend.
"It was a risky venture," Trujillo said.
Although it was risky, Trujillo was hopeful and she was impressed with the town of Seaside.
"It was a really compelling idea that there was a place in the town designed as an arts district," she said.
Trujillo found the few homeowners in the new town to be extremely supportive.
"Seaside attracts a visually literate population," said Trujillo. "The people who come here appreciate architecture, which lends to an appreciation of visual arts."
There were not very many people in town, or who came through, but the ones who did came back became her customer base.
Newbill by the Sea is still on the bottom-floor of the townhome where it opened that first night. That townhome was only the fourth building that was constructed in Ruskin Place.
When first opened, Newbill was in just one room of the townhome's first level, and Trujillo only carried maybe 50 artists. She has expanded in stages with the front room first, then the second room, and finally, the back room.
"Over the years with downturns of the economy there have been ups and down, but I love what I'm doing," she said. "I've met so many wonderful people."
The three rooms of the gallery are now full of artwork of all kinds created by more than 200 artists. Everything in the gallery was made by North American artists from the South.
Newbill by the Sea is the longest-running art gallery in Seaside and possibly of all 30A.
"We have seen a tremendous amount of growth around us," said Trujillo. "The integrity of what Seaside represents has been enhanced not diminished by the growth around us. The people who come here experience good times on their trips. That's the beauty here. I've seen kids grow up, get married, and bring their babies here. Memories. We try to remember faces. Being at Seaside is an advantage. The variety keeps people coming back. We are welcoming them into our homes."
Trujillo said she has had three great careers and is not thinking of ending her current one.
"I am not thinking of retirement," she said. "I love what I do."
The shop will be celebrating its milestone 25 the rest of the year.