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Owner of oldest business in Port St. Lucie reflects on city's 60th year

Posted at 5:21 PM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 17:21:00-04

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — In 60 years, Port St. Lucie has grown from pastures to one of the 10 most populous cities in Florida.

Port St. Lucie is throwing itself a birthday party.

On April 27, 1961 House Bill 953 was passed and Port St. Lucie became a city.

The new census numbers will likely count more than 200,000 people there.

WPTV's Jon Shainman visited Port St. Lucie's oldest business to see how they've adapted over time.

Before there was a Port St. Lucie, there was the Shell Bazaar.

Shell Bazaar was established in the early 1950s by Christine Williams parents on US 1 when it was a two-lane road.

“I tell people I’m a country girl and they say ‘oh where were you raised?’ And I say right here. I would sit in the shell and wave at a car when it went by,” said Williams.

Now plenty of cars speed by the shop just north of Jennings Road.

The city has grown to 120 square miles, building rapidly... especially out west.

"It can be overwhelming, but I feel very blessed that we're still here," Williams said.

Christine credits the initial population boom to the New York Mets relocating to Port St. Lucie for spring training in 1988.

The 1990 census counted 55,000 people. 2020's census could be four times that.

Christine said over the years they had to adapt to customer tastes and desires. They transitioned from more traditional souvenirs to finer items like wall art.

“I upgraded or changed the product my mother was selling,” said Christine.

But you can still find a good t-shirt or shell.

There have been rough patches where Christine was ready to retire.

The business closed for 18 months after Hurricane Wilma.

Christine is a survivor of stage 4 breast cancer.

But when asked what her parents would think that their vision is still standing along the roadside nearly 70 years later, Williams responded “I think they would be very proud.”