During her 28 years of working for the state as a social worker, Dorothy Roberts often thought about opening her own gift store.
“I have always loved making things,” says Roberts, sister of Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts. “From cross-stich to jewelry making, I just enjoy the whole creative process.”
By the time she had an opportunity to retire in 2015, Roberts had been crafting and selling her distinctive jewelry designs for a decade. While she was stuck in an airport terminal, waiting out a snowstorm, the would-be entrepreneur had an “a-ha” moment.
“I read an article in Black Enterprise magazine about Michael Vick’s wife, who opened a boutique,” she recalls. “It came to me that Robin’s fan base might be interested in shopping in a store named in her honor.”
Roberts wrote “Robin’s Nest” on a napkin — and the rest is history. This year, her shop, Robin’s Nest in the Pass, marks five years in business.
“We recently underwent a renovation of the building to enhance and protect our external structure,” the owner says, “and the interior has been redesigned to promote a better shopping experience.”
For the first three months of the year, Robin’s Nest sees a number of snowbirds from northern states, and during the spring and summer, travelers visit as they trek between Florida and Texas.
Through the last quarter of the year, many retirees stop by to shop for gifts and décor for their retirement homes. In general, according to Roberts, women ages 45 to 80 comprise the majority of the store’s customer base.
Roberts and her staff know many of their customers by name, and their loyal patrons support the store by bringing in their family and friends. Over the last five years, Robin’s Nest also has formed good relationships with vendors and artists, which Roberts says “is key to keeping a good inventory for our shoppers.”
“The mission of Robin’s Nest in the Pass is to celebrate the creative spirit,” she adds. “Our core philosophy is to provide excellent customer service and quality artisan merchandise and to support local, regional and international artists.”
Aside from local art and artisan jewelry, the store also carries pottery, woodwork, home décor, accessories and gifts for all occasions. Some customer favorites include a pewter bird’s nest necklace and a wire-wrapped bird’s nest necklace by one of the store’s consigned designers. A sculpture collection called Women Standing Tall and scarves, wraps and items within The Power Collection also prove popular, as does a bath and body line called the Lucimarian Collection that honors her late mother.
“What makes us unique is our store environment, merchandise selection and, of course, our namesake, Robin,” Roberts says. “People enjoy coming into the store and feeling her presence. Seeing our family memorabilia adds to their shopping experience.”
The store knows the value of social media, and during the pandemic, Robin’s Nest expanded its online store and offered curbside delivery to maintain sales. Roberts would like to grow the online store even more and reach more customers outside of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Another part of Roberts’s long-term vision is establishing a business next door to Robin’s Nest— and plans are in place to open Roberts Place Café soon, possibly as early as November, which will serve American Southern cuisine. The restaurant will offer daily plate lunches, dinner specials and a room just for sweets like ice cream, gelato and pastries. A large deck will accommodate outdoor dining and live music.
“We look forward to having this business, which will help make Pass Christian a destination for shopping, dining and entertainment,” Roberts says.
Roberts’s family has lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast since 1969, arriving just prior to Hurricane Camille, and she considers the Coast “a wonderful place to do business” because people are diverse, accepting of others and resilient. There’s also a sense of family, she adds, as residents help each other through challenges and celebrate each other’s successes.
“I could have retired to any other state, but I chose to stay on the Mississippi Gulf Coast — most notably, Pass Christian — just as my late parents, Lawrence and Lucimarian Roberts, did,” she says. “This is home.”
IF YOU GO
Robin’s Nest in the Pass
255 Davis Ave., Pass Christian | (228) 222-4863
Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.