Sun, Sand and Shopping

It’s as important as the beach itself. Here are the season’s crop of great new places.

Blooming Boutique opened last year in Bethany Beach. Photograph by Jared CastaldiIt didn’t take long for Deb Wilkins-Shiffer to realize that she had outgrown the space at Josephine’s Daughter, the Milton shop (113 Union St., Milton, 329-9475) she opened last year. So in January, she unveiled a second location (128 Second St., Lewes, 381-7782). “I needed more room and more visibility, and it seemed the right way to go,” she says.

There is symmetry to having stores in both Milton and Lewes. “I enjoy being downtown,” she says, “and I love both places.” The Lewes location has less furniture and more of the “wearable art for you and your home” that Wilkins-Shiffer loves to offer.

Josephine’s Daughter is in good company, even in a troubled economy. “It’s been very positive,” says Jeff Evans, sales and marketing director for the Bethany Beach-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce. “The vacancies have provided opportunities for businesses in the area, and several new businesses have come in.”

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As in years past, clothing and boutiques have seen the lion’s share of the action, and a few—like Josephine’s Daughter—have multiplied. Quiet Storm (126 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth, 226-2747) in March opened an offshoot, Good Vibes (110 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth, 227-5200). Quiet Storm mixes surf gear with cool sportswear. Good Vibes is more of a lifestyle clothing store, with such brands as Teva, Guy Harvey and Kersh.

Blooming Boutique (98 Garfield Pkwy., Bethany Beach, 541-4119) opened last year. It became the company’s third store. (It’s predecessors are at 216A Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-3300, and 118 Second St., Lewes, 644-4052). While Blooming Boutique offers lots of fun accessories and gifts, it is best-known for its bead “charm” bracelets, made by Troll, Pandora and Chameleon. It is so well-known that the Lewes shop holds a Beads Anonymous meeting on the third Thursday of every month from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“People come in with nametags, and we serve refreshments and show them the latest beads,” says owner Micha Seta. “Each month there is a new line.”

Maryanne Barr, owner of The Beach Jetty (123 Second St., Lewes, 645-4606), a women’s boutique, this year also opened The Beach Jetty on Market (205 Second St., Lewes, 644-4608). Despite the address, the entrance is on Market Street—hence the name. “I needed more space, and I thought it was very quaint,” Barr says. The new store has exposed brick and beams. The Second Street store is beachy casual, while the Market Street shop is a tad more upscale while maintaining a coastal frame of mind.

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Some stores have been on the move. Barr’s new location is the former home of Aquamarine Boutique (114 Second St., Lewes, 644-4550), which now resides next to Jerry’s Seafood. Owner Maureen Botti-Eschbach relishes the two big windows, the hardwood floors and built-in shelves, installed after a fire in 1922 gutted the building, to display her fashions.

The Rose Garden moved to a new location (26 Pennsylvania Ave., Bethany Beach, 539-5288). The new home has two floors with attractive swimsuits, apparel, jewelry, shoes and handbags. “We’re like a little department store,” says owner Andrea Forte. She still has her Rehoboth Avenue location (240 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-9988) as well.

Something Comfortable (122 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-6180) moved during the first snowstorm in February from its old location at 70 Rehoboth Ave. Because the stores were so close, nine workers put clothing on racks and wheeled them down the street. “It was the bra and panty parade,” says owner Sue Petty, who is known for her beautiful and functional bras and her expert fittings. You’ll also find sexy and fun lingerie, pajamas and loungewear.

As for men, it’s been a good year for Shorebreak (115 Savannah Road, Lewes. 645-8488), a men’s apparel store owned by Josh Barr, which opened last July. Barr specializes in outdoor clothing and sports clothes, which are ideal for the beach. Lines include Royal Robbins, Southern Tide and Columbia. He carries Sanuk and Reef sandals.

Change is good at Tanger Outlets Center, a mecca for shoppers on Del. 1 between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. “A healthy changeover is about 2 percent,” notes general manager Amy Norgate. In part, that is because a designer or brand that is hot now might not be so hot in five years. Among those designers, Michael Kors (645-2600)—of “Project Runway” fame—Kate Spade (644-2543) and Kenneth Cole (644-2072) are new additions to the Midway location. Shoe magnet Cole Haan (644-6874) is another upscale newcomer.

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Over at Seaside, Express Last Hurrah (226-9223), the outlet venue for Express stores, is scheduled to open next to Bose Factory Store. Yankee Candle (227-7908) has been open about a year. Aerie (227-1087), an outlet for American Eagle Outfitters, carries pajama and casual gear. Call the offerings “cool dorm wear.” The new Crocs Outlet (227-2590) has had a “phenomenal year,” Norgate says. Another newbie, Icing (227-4943) is a division of Claire’s, which is known for its trendy accessories.

The Bayside plaza features Champion (227-7182), a sports apparel company owned by Hanes. Yet Tanger is not all about national stores. Tiger Lili (226-0400) is independently owned by local Lili Kohr. The store, which features women’s clothes, accessories and jewelry, moved from Midway to Bayside in March.

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Of course, retail stores can provide some tasty as well as trendy offerings. Harris Teeter (695 Bethany Loop, Bethany Beach, 539-7370) continues its northward migration with the opening of the Salt Pond Plaza in March.

Fenwick Wine Cellars (38016 Fenwick Shoals Blvd., Fenwick Island, 436-1500) opened in January. The farm winery is owned by Adrian Mobilia, a fourth-generation farmer, whose family owns some 200 acres near Lake Erie in Pennsylvania. Mobilia plans to plant grapes on property across the street from the new store. The company currently offers 16 different bottles of wine. Along with wine, the shop sells wine accoutrements, including hand-painted wine glasses, wine keys and openers, gift bags and cheese trays.

After a competitive game of putt-putt golf, relax and unwind at Seacoast Salon (18388 Coastal Hwy., No. 5, Lewes, 703-2506), which opened in February. The full-service salon offers hair care, nail care, waxing and massage.

Or wind down with Hot Yoga Delaware (18466 Plantations Blvd., Lewes, 645-9100). There are at least three classes a day (except for Sundays, when the studio offers one class). The 6 p.m. class is among the most popular. Class styles range from hot to warm and light to suit your comfort level.

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