photograph by Faith Teasley

With stylish clothes and long blonde curls, Sundi McLaughlin looks right at home among the perfume, books, jewelry, decor, and homemade candles in her Southern Pines shop, Mockingbird on Broad. So at home that some of her fellow Broad Street shopkeepers were shocked to learn of her previous occupation — as a prison deputy. But for those who knew McLaughlin’s spontaneous side, it wasn’t that surprising.

After all, it was a whim that, more than 20 years ago, drove McLaughlin to move to Key West to go shell diving. She shared her collection at a roadside shell stand, where she loved chatting with travelers about the colorful conchs. Two years later, she traded her bathing suit for a police uniform and a midnight shift in a Florida correctional facility, where she held art contests for prisoners. When her husband was stationed at Fort Bragg in 2008, McLaughlin once again found herself with a fresh start. In 2010, she purchased her Broad Street storefront and gave the brick facade a fresh coat of blue paint.

Today, Mockingbird on Broad is filled with thoughtful gifts, each of which McLaughlin describes as passionately as if it were a rare conch.

Mockingbird on Broad
240 Northwest Broad Street
Southern Pines, NC 28387
(910) 692-5338

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Bailey Sherrill is a former Our State Spring intern and, now, freelance writer who resides in the sleepy gem town of Hiddenite, NC and works in the Queen City.