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Kinnee’s Gifts and Shells
By Annette Langenstein, Staff Writer
Published in the February 11, 2016 edition

Forty years ago, a married couple moved to Charleston seeking a less stressful way of life.  They had vacationed along the southern Oregon coast and had always thought the place was beautiful. “We were living in Bend and my husband had become ill due to his stressful job,” says Pat Kinnee, owner of Kinnee’s Gifts and Shells.  “We moved to Charleston in 1975 and this little shop was up for sale.  All they had were seashells in what is now the front of our shop. My husband and I decided that we wanted to simplify things and do something fun, so we bought the place. He lived for another 20 years and enjoyed every minute of it here in Charleston.”

At first the Kinnees lived in an apartment which is now part of the shop, eventually building their home above the harbor. “We started out with…well…not much at all,” continued Pat. “and found out right away that we needed to feature more than just seashells because people wanted to buy things they could either wear, eat, or use, not just look at.  Forty years ago it seemed like a good idea to use our own name for the shop; if I had started it later I would have named it the ‘Purple Pelican’ or something, because people have a hard time spelling our name…most of them just call us the ‘shell shop!”

(Pictured left to right) Manager Toni Easley, with Pat Kinnee, owner, and  her son Jim Ritchie.

These days you might find Pat still working at the place, alongside Toni Easley, who is the manager. “I might be the owner,” said Pat, “but Toni is the boss!” Pat’s son, Jim Ritchie, also works there, and is gradually taking over the business, which includes the gift shop, an RV park with 10 spaces (overlooking the beautiful South Slough Estuary), and a laundromat.    

Kinnee’s Gifts and Shells is a treasure trove of goodies: gifts, shells, hoodies, t-shirts, jewelry and souvenirs. They have outdoor sea-life lawn ornaments, sunscreens, kites, beach towels, wind chimes, books and packaged seafoods. “We carry Seafare Pacific Seafoods,” explained Pat. “This is sustainable, wild-caught seafood in an environmentally-friendly pouch that’s perfect for camping or home use. There are chowders, ciopinno, curries: little prepared meals. And of course we have Misty Meadows jams. We’ve tried others, but always come back to them.”           

I asked Pat why she likes advertising in the South Coast Shopper. “The biggest reason is because the distribution is so wide,” she replied. “It’s the first thing we see people pick up at our little Charleston Post Office…even before they get their mail! We’ve watched it grow through the years, and it’s so nice to read something that’s not the negative news we’re always hearing. Of course we also want to let people know that we’re a gift shop, not just a souvenir shop.”

Pat is a passionate supporter of the Charleston area. “It’s a very positive place, with tons of things to see and do: Shore Acres, Sunset Bay, the South Slough…crabbing, fishing, you name it! I’m involved with the Wild Women of Charleston, who do a lot for this area, from promoting events to picking up trash.”

Kinnee’s Gifts and Shells is located at 91134 Cape Arago Highway, and they’re open seven days a week, from 10 am to 6 pm. Their phone number is 541-888-5924. “Come on out for the Crab feed on February 13, from 11 am to 3 pm at the old Charleston Elementary School,” said Pat, “Don’t miss Rusty Shield’s Train Display, which is amazing, and help support the wonderful Charleston area!” 

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