For Michiko Seto, business is blooming in a big way. In January, she moved her Rehoboth Beach store, Blooming Boutique, to larger digs next door (216B Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-3300, bloomingboutique.com), nearly doubling her space. The next month, she moved her Lewes store to space formerly occupied by Wildflowers. The new store (107 Second St., Lewes, 644-4052) gives her triple the space.
That’s not all. Seeing a void in Lewes, she opened a gift shop in Blooming Boutique’s old Lewes location. Lewes Gifts (118 Second St., Lewes, 644-7880) features an assortment of goodies, including candles, cards, paper products, home decor, flags and wind chimes. “We’re the only store in town selling Lewes clothing: sweatshirts, golf shirts, T-shirts—that’s a big part of the store,” she says.
Couple that with the August opening of a Milford location and her already up-and-running Bethany Beach store (98 Garfield Parkway, Bethany Beach, 541-4119), and you can see why Seto is continually on the move. “It’s very busy but good busy,” she says.
With the increase in space, she’s expanded her collection of cotton clothing, made in the United States. Blooming Boutique is also known for shoes, jewelry, accessories and a large assortment of charm beads from such manufacturers as Trollbeads, Chamilia and Halia. (The Delaware beads—a lighthouse, Rehoboth bead and Bethany bead—give collectors a wearable vacation souvenir.)
As Blooming Boutique illustrates, the economy may dip and drop faster than a celebrity on “Dancing with the Stars,” but the beach remains a viable stage for business openings and expansions.
Del Sol, for instance, moved into Blooming Boutique’s former location in Rehoboth (216A Rehoboth Ave., 226-9090, delsol.com). The nearly 4-year-old shop was formerly located at First Street Station. “Now we’re in the mix of all the shopping,” says co-owner Greg Becker. “We have so much more visibility.”
Del Sol specializes in clothing and products that react to the sun. A black-and-white T-shirt bursts into color in sunlight. Pink nail polish turns purple. Jewelry and toys also brighten when they see the sun.
The bright idea for Jen Mason’s new business came while she was meditating. In April, she debuted Biblion (205 Second St., Lewes, 644-2210, biblionbooks.com), located in Thistles’ old space. Mason, a former development director turned writer and editor, specializes in “used books and rare finds,” which include contemporary as well as antique books.
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“If something like this will work, it will work in Lewes,” Mason says. She curates the books so customers can find the quirky and the interesting. A trade/credit program and a consignment option for rare books leads to a regular influx of products. In addition to out-of-print or hard-to-find books, she also carries a card line unavailable elsewhere at the beach and book-related accessories. Because the shop is intimate, she’s intentionally keeping the collection small “but dynamic.”
Dynamic is the word for Biblion’s former neighbor, Josephine’s Daughter. The shop started in Milton, jumped to Lewes and in spring moved to Rehoboth (129D Rehoboth Ave., 260-9577, josephinesdaughter.com). Why so many moves? “We kept growing,” says co-owner Deb Wilkins-Schiffer. “I wasn’t interested in having multiple locations so, in each case, we found a better spot to accommodate our growth.”
Wilkins-Schiffer is enthusiastically delving into the local art scene, featuring 15 artists and devoting her second floor to art and creative home furnishings. With four times the space of the Lewes store, she’s also expanded her jewelry and fashion accessories offerings.
Shiffer joins a community devoted to style. Witness the fall 2010 opening of Jane & Georgie (419 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 727-5135, janeandgeorgie.com). Sisters Kate Chambers and Lisa Thomson named the shop for their grandparents, with whom they spent summers in Lewes.
The shop, the original home of Bad Hair Day, is a proper homage to the couple, who were celebrated for their sense of style. Lines include Kenneth Jay Lane, Lauren G. Adams, Minnie Rose, Shoshanna and Alice & Trixie.
Chambers is a retail veteran, having worked in the industry for the past 10 years, including stints at Tickled Pink and J. McLaughlin in Bethesda. “I decided it was time to go out on my own,” she says. “I tried to talk my sister into it, and I finally got her.” Thomson, an artist, is responsible for the fetching window displays.
Chambers calls the shop a “nice little boutique,” offering special occasion dresses, accessories and some children’s shoes and swimsuits. “You’ll be able to find fun gifts you won’t find anywhere else,” she says.
There is no shortage of clothing stores in outlet-happy Rehoboth, but one area was woefully underrepresented. Brides could find plenty of places to get married but not many bridal shops. That changed in January with the opening of Brides 2 Be by Hope Mitchell (17605 Nassau Commons Blvd., Lewes, 645-2485, brides2bebyhope.com).
Mitchell visualized her career at an early age. “My sister got married when I was 8, and it was such a beautiful experience, I decided that when I grew up I wanted to be a bridal shop lady.” Many customers are beach brides who live full time in Wilmington or Philadelphia or daughters or beach vacation homeowners. They’re thrilled that they needn’t lug their dress back and forth. The pale lemon chiffon-colored shop also offers tuxedos.
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Whether you’re seeking a bridal up-do or beach-proof hair, you have two new salons to consider. Last October, Tom Archino opened ThomasDavid Salon in Paynters Mill (16388 Samuel Paynter Blvd., Suite 101, Milton, 827-2466, thomasdavidsalon.net). The salon focuses on hair, from cuts to the balyage highlighting technique. Archino, formerly with Bling and Bad Hair Day, spotlights colors and cuts that are affordable and approachable.
Also new is Salon LaRoc (310 Rehoboth Ave., 727-0040, salonlaroc.com), owned by Peter DiRocco and Lauren Lewandowski. The stylists always wanted to operate their own salon, and when the old Bead Therapy space became available, they jumped on it, opening in just 30 days.
“We’ve had a great turnout,” says Lewandowski, formerly of Robert Cris Salon in Greenville. “Peter is a curly hair specialist, and he’s been extremely busy.” (Tip: many coastal girls are showing off their curls, not straightening them.) Nail technician Heather Marowski is also on board.
Why should humans get all the glam? Cat Hotel of Rehoboth, (34697 Jiffy Way, No. 5 Lewes, 645-2287, cathotelrb.com) offers grooming services and boarding just for felines. “I didn’t see any boarding facilities for cats where they weren’t boarded in the same facility as dogs,” says veterinarian-owner Dr. Jaine Weise, who also runs a house-call service. “We wanted a place that was serene and stimulating, and everything is made for cats.”
Consider the five-level, 12-foot-high “condominiums” for boarders. Twice a day, the cats come out for exercise, during which they can sit in a window and watch birds eat at a feeder. Brushes are mandatory. Weise knows too well how matted cats get without daily grooming. Soothing classical music eases the nerves of kitties that chafe under the brush.
Whether you walk on four legs or two, life is evidently a beach along the Delaware coast. But for many residents and visitors, it’s not enough to be near the water. They want to be on the water. Enter DelMarVa Board Sports Adventures (39084 Harpoon Road, Fenwick Island, 301-651-0542, delmarvaboardsportadventures.com), which recently opened a waterfront location next to Harpoon Hanna’s.
Owners George and Janice Markopoulos share their passion for stand-up paddle boarding and windsurfing via lessons, excursions, even yoga. (Wave action adds an interesting dimension to bow pose and cobra.)
DelMarVa takes its services to parks like Cape Henlopen, where it offers sunset paddles and paddleboard yoga, and to Assateague for saltmarsh eco-tours, complete with pony sightings.
The shop offers try-before-you-buy equipment sales and rent-with-the-option-to-buy policies. “Our goal is to make stand-up paddleboarding accessible and affordable to all who want to try it,” Janice Markopoulos says.