These Beach Boutiques Offer a Personal Touch in Delaware

The personal touch at beach boutiques appeals to tourists and locals alike.

In 2019, when Maureen Eschbach moved Aquamarine boutique to Kings Highway in Lewes, some people scratched their heads. Eschbach had been a fixture on busy Second Street—why move to the so-called fringes?

Eschbach, however, has had the last laugh. She recently debuted a new building on the Kings Highway site, where neighbors include The Station on Kings, The Brush Factory and Big Oyster Brewery. Together, these businesses have made the entrance to Lewes a destination.

But there’s another reason why Eschbach wasn’t worried. Despite the nearby outlet stores, coastal fashion boutiques boast loyal customers.

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“It’s a personal experience,” Eschbach says of shopping in an independently owned store. “Women will come and spend three hours and get their entire spring wardrobe, for instance.”

Carey Pauley of The Pink Turtle in Rehoboth Beach agrees that coastal residents support area boutiques. “People here still want to shop small businesses and touch the clothes—they want that personalized service.”

Tourists, meanwhile, are in the mood to browse. “People on vacation treat themselves,” Eschbach notes. And clothing is a sensible souvenir.

So, when you’re taking a break from the sun and sand, here are 10 shops providing retail therapy.

Willow Marie & Co.

Ashlee Payton and Michelle Long opened the boutique in 2018 on the old Sandy Brae Stables property outside Lewes. Long was no stranger to retail. She owns Salvaged, a Lewes furniture and décor shop. Soon after opening Willow Marie, the partners launched Fierce, another clothing boutique next to Salvaged.

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Then COVID hit, and the landlord of the old homestead decided to sell. (The property is slated to become a Starbucks Coffee.) Consequently, Willow Marie moved into Fierce. Why not keep the latter’s name? Willow Marie is named after Payton’s daughter, Willow, and Michelle’s grandmother, Marie, who raised her.

Payton says the “fun, bright and eclectic” wares appeal to all ages. Tip: Join the Willow Marie VIP Insiders Facebook group for sneak peeks, promotions and exclusives. 17370 Coastal Highway, Lewes; 632-0831; shop.


The Lewes boutique started in a basement space under what’s now Biblion Books and moved to Second Street. Owner Maureen Eschbach moved to Kings Highway to buy the old Surf Shanty, which was moved to make way for new construction.

The new space has something for everyone. “An 83-year-old grandmother can find something, and so can a 15-year-old,” she says. However, most customers are between 30 and 60 years old. “People think it’s fun here; it’s like a cocktail party.” If you ask for opinions, you’ll get them from the staff and fellow customers. After all, repeat customers are satisfied customers. 820 Kings Highway, Lewes; 644-4550

Blooming Boutique

Michiko “Micha” Seto has built a blooming empire. The University of Delaware fashion merchandising grad started Blooming Boutique in 2006 and moved to larger digs in Lewes. A second Lewes spot sells accessories. Now there are Blooming Boutiques in Long Neck and Milford.

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Seto also owns Lewes Wear and Just Lewes (themed apparel for Lewes and Delaware buffs), Treasures in Lewes and Long Neck (sterling silver jewelry and home décor), Lewes Gifts in Lewes and Bayside Gifts in Long Neck.

Tom Tom

Ideally, a fashion boutique offers funky yet stylish finds, and that’s certainly the case at Tom Tom, located on the highway leading to the Cape May–Lewes Ferry terminal. Owner Susan Shockley has an eye for fun, fashionable clothing and accessories. 209 Monroe Extended/Route 9, Lewes; 344-8012

At Tom Tom, owner Susan Shockley has an eye for funky yet stylish finds. Discover apparel, accessories and other fun items.
At Tom Tom, owner Susan Shockley has an eye for funky yet stylish finds. Discover apparel, accessories and other fun items.


Shop for men and women at the iconic Rehoboth Avenue shop, which opened in 1960. Now owned by Trey Krause, Carltons specializes in resort-influenced garments from brands like Tommy Bahama, Robert Graham, Peter Millar, Patagonia, Southern Tide and Nic & Zoe. The selection and the service have landed Carltons on multiple Best of Delaware lists. 31 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 227-7990;

Since 1960, Carltons in Rehoboth has appealed to men and women seeking resort-style clothing.
Since 1960, Carltons in Rehoboth has appealed to men and women seeking resort-style clothing.

Bombshell Boutique

Jaime Carter-Houck opened this boutique in 2019 before the pandemic. With guts and determination, she kept it afloat, and loyal customers flock here for clothing, accessories, gifts and the “baby Bombshell” line. 125 Rehoboth Ave.; 567-5614; Rehoboth Beach,

Lilla Cavallo

Owner Carly Hlinko has said that “the right outfit will get you in the door and change your life,” and her mission is to help women find their authentic style. She handpicks the items—and designs some of them. What’s with the name? The equestrian lover, who is of Italian descent, says it means “lilac horse” in Italian. 403 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 841-3407

The Pink Turtle

If this shop sounds familiar, it’s because The Pink Turtle has been in Greenville since 2010 and Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, since 2016. Owners Carey Pauley and Christine Kendle opened the downtown Rehoboth Beach shop in 2019.

The boutique targets ages 15 to 60 and emphasizes items you won’t find in outlets. “You’re not going to go to a party and show up wearing the same thing someone else is wearing,” Pauley promises. Expect some flowing, beachy-type pieces in the Rehoboth Beach store—and bathing suits, of course. 149 Rehoboth Ave., Unit 10, Rehoboth Beach; 575-9864;

Water Lili

Lili Oller doesn’t just own Water Lili—she is the brand. The website and Instagram page make you want to live the beachy Lili lifestyle. Bethany Beach and Ocean View locations offer dresses, intimates, jewelry, belts, hats and even home goods. 98 Garfield Parkway, Bethany Beach & 111 Atlantic Ave, Ocean View; 539-1110;

Prickly Gal Boutique & Surf Shop

The new communities west of Route 1 are inspiring entrepreneurs to open eateries and boutiques. Logan Galbreath and Clay Reynolds invested in both: Prickley Gal and Shaka Shack, which offers takeout meals, desserts, smoothies and Smith Island cake. (You might want to buy the swimwear before eating dessert.) 35308 Atlantic Ave, Millville; 604-9022;

Prickly Gal in Millville knows white never goes out of season.
Prickly Gal in Millville knows white never goes out of season.

Related: Fashion-Forward Teen Nadia Lombardo Shares Style Inspirations

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