These one-of-a-kind beach boutiques are favorites of both locals and tourists.
Most beach towns are lined with souvenir shops selling T-shirts, key chains and flip-flops. But when locals and tourists covet a more unique shopping experience, there are multiple shops throughout the Delaware beaches to frequent. Here’s our guide to shopping local with a one-of-a-kind twist.
If you’ve never been to Eclectic Blend in Millsboro, perhaps it’s because the 2-year-old shop is only open three days a month. Owners Melissa Walker and Lynda Oakes say that schedule works for their current lifestyles.
“Melissa is still raising kids and I care for my mother, who is 90,” says Oakes.
The two friends opened up shop in an old farmhouse that Walker’s family had recently moved out of but wanted to keep. While they were originally unsure whether the shop’s unconventional hours would work out, they say that customers seem to love the concept.
“It turned out to be incredibly received. We have 400 to 500 visitors in three days,” says Oakes.
The shop uses its Facebook page and website to post hours of operation, typically a month in advance.
Items for sale include a mix of new and repurposed home décor like hand-painted furniture, artwork and home fragrances, plus some jewelry and scarves. The duo says they travel to estate sales and reinvent pieces from locals who are downsizing.
“We have a grandfather clock that is going to be a linen closet,” says Oakes.
To prepare for their second season, the pair have revamped the store and decided to restock every night.
22935 John J. Williams Highway, Millsboro • 245-3154
Owner Taber Hunt Bartoshesky got into the furniture business in 2011, when he took his first trip to Indonesia. From 2011 until 2015, he admits the business was a bit of a side hustle.
“It was a passion for sure, but it had not yet developed into a career path or a sustainable source of income,” he says.
He and his wife Nadia opened up their first store front in downtown Rehoboth in May 2016.
“Our furniture is something that needs to be seen and felt in person. We wanted to create an experience,” says Bartoshesky.
Hunt & Lane sells solid teak furniture, handwoven textiles and pillows, and authentic artifacts and artwork.
“Our teak-root coffee tables from our organic collection are some of our more popular items. We dig up the root systems of teak trees that have been harvested or fallen long ago, and after many hours of sanding and polishing, we create a one-of-a-kind base for a coffee table, dining table, console table or side table,” he says.
Depending on size and weight, tables can cost anywhere from $349 to $3,199.
While they have been completely happy in their home on Wilmington Avenue, they saw new construction going up just down the street. After seeing the inside of the venue and considering the idea of having more space, there was no turning back.
They plan to open up before the summer season gets into full swing.
48 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach • 443-614-3174
Ocean City, Maryland, residents Pam Harman and her daughter Taylor never planned on opening up shop in Delaware.
But when the Selbyville space became available, they couldn’t pass it up and Magnolia Rifle was born.
Taylor is a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design with a degree in fashion, which comes in handy, as the bohemian boutique focuses on fashionable products for everyone.
“We cater to sizes XS to 3X. So many people were coming in grateful for our size offerings,” Taylor says.
The mother-daughter owner/operater duo sometimes struggles to find companies who carry the sizes they sell, which is why they go to almost every trade show in New York.
Some of their most popular labels are ARATTA, a funky fashion label out of Los Angeles; East Aloha, an Ocean City jewelry line; and 100 percent soy candles from The Bathing Raven Soy Candle Co. out of Virginia. The boutique also launched a baby collection in March.
And the name, Magnolia Rifle, is as unique as the items they sell.
“Magnolia is for Savannah and its huge magnolia trees. Rifle is for my dad, who was a hunter and fisherman,” Taylor says.
37238 Lighthouse Road, Selbyville • 988-2164
Mandie Stevenson is a psychic and medium who, after years of doing tarot card readings for the public, decided it was time for expansion.
“When I was growing up, my platform wasn’t given a lot of support. But in my late teens, I started embracing it and being proud of it,” says Stevenson.
Her 5-year-old business moved to a purple house on Kings Highway almost two years ago, offering people more services than before, such as tarot card, psychic medium and past life readings, as well as cord-cutting sessions (where you let go of negative connections).
“They help you remove anything that you’ve blocked and opens up your past so you can feel happier,” she explains.
Stevenson also sells a large selection of crystals and minerals. While some customers collect them for their looks, other are meant to offer protection and help with pain, healing and inflammation. The shop even has a selection of candles, books, jewelry and essential oils.
“My clients are like family. And I have an awesome staff of people that truly believe in my business,” says Stevenson.
Her monthly full moon gatherings, held on the beach in Lewes from April through October, have grown to around 300 people. A schedule is available on her Facebook and Instagram pages.
818 Kings Highway, Lewes • 858-3859
Justin and Kristin Sinnott opened up their comic book oasis Ogre’s Grove in 2017.
“The property kind of fell in our laps. We wanted an old Victorian home that was zoned for commercial use. We live upstairs and the shop is downstairs,” says Justin.
The couple has been collecting comic books for years. Now, they get in hundreds of new comics and some older collections every week.
“We have a huge Spider-Man collection, which is highly collectible,” says Justin.
The average price for current comics is $3.99 and a special edition can go for $9.99. Some of the vintage comic books go for $2,000.
The shop is also an art gallery, often featuring more than six different artists from Sussex County. Every three months, they host an artist’s reception.
“Some pieces that are original acrylic can go for $300 to $400, and then we have prints for just $10,” says Justin.
Justin believes what makes Ogre’s Grove stand out is their strong attention to customer service.
“Service is our bread and butter. People are coming in and they are here for an hour talking about stuff. It has become a huge family environment and we are really blessed,” says Justin.
129 Union St., Milton • 643-2125
These two shops have the best view in Lewes, according to Andrea Spuck.
Owned by Spuck and Tim Southerst, Puzzles and Lewes Gourmet are located on Front Street across from the canal in Lewes. Southerst calls himself the puzzle guy and his wife the gourmet gal.
“We do divide and conquer, and there is definitely a friendly rivalry between the two stores,” he says.
The couple took over the shops five years ago even though neither had ever worked in retail. But with three kids, they knew they had to expand and find a way to increase sales.
Lewes Gourmet is known for its selection of Stonewall products, British grocery items (Southerst grew up in England), Scandinavian food and plenty of Delaware-based brands
“We sell local jams and jellies and Joost Wafels from Bethany Beach. We carry anything that is produced or invented in Delaware,” says Spuck.
Southerst says he has been pleasantly surprised by how many people of all different ages still enjoy doing puzzles.
“It’s heartwarming stuff, actually. Parents with young kids come through and they remember doing puzzles with grandparents and want to bestow that same basic pleasure in life to their kids,” he says.
The 1,000-piece puzzles are the most popular, but he says wooden puzzles have been making a resurgence.
“Many people remember those puzzles and there’s a renewed interest in them. There is something about the sensation of holding a chunky piece of wood,” he says.
In season, both shops are open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day and are only closed on Christmas and Thanksgiving in the off-season.
This Rehoboth Beach shop is the brainchild of two shop owners joining forces.
Purposefully Recycled owner Mary Alice Chase met Lynn Misener when she was running Sassy Chic in Lewes. When a storefront in downtown Rehoboth became available, the two women became partners and opened Sassy Chic in Rehoboth last year.
The shop sells plenty of handcrafted home décor, from seashell ornaments to coastal-inspired artwork made from driftwood and beach glass.
“Mary Alice’s beach glass pictures of birds are bestsellers,” says Misener.
The shop also offers monogramming and embroidering. Customers can have an item from the store embroidered or they can bring in something they already own.
This summer, the shop will start selling photography work from Misener’s husband.
“We will also have a whole new line of Sassy Chic embroidery products,” says Misener.
During its summer hours, Sassy Chic is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.
33 D/E Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach • 236-1842
The Stepping Stone has been a Lewes staple for 28 years.
About 15 years ago, it changed hands to its current owner, Sandy Phelan.
“I have a degree in chemistry and I worked in regulatory affairs in D.C. I had been coming to Lewes and always wanted to live here. About 17 years ago, I purchased a home,” says Phelan.
The Stepping Stone sells American-made fine handcrafts by 150 different artists.
“I hand-select everything and I buy directly from the artist,” says Phelan.
Some of those artists include Nancy Solomon from West Chester, Pennsylvania, who makes hand-painted pottery; Anna Biggs, a jeweler from Greenville; and Bea Whitehead from Lincoln, who makes baskets.
Phelan has selected a few new artists for the busy summer season, including Nicholas Yust, who works in copper and aluminum.
“Tourists are always looking for things that say Lewes, so I found a new ceramic mug that will say Lewes. I’m trying to meet the needs of my customers,” says Phelan.
The shop is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day in the summer.
107 W. Market St., Lewes • 645-1254
Owner Nick Johnson opened his first Su Casa shop in Baltimore’s Fells Point neighborhood in 1999. Since then, he has opened three more locations—Ellicott City, Maryland; Bethany Beach and Ocean View.
“We sell everything from doormats to dining sets,” says Johnson.
His Bethany Beach location was originally located in Dewey, but he moved it to Bethany Beach four years ago.
Su Casa focuses on items from local artists and vendors, including The Whitewashed Row Home, a husband-and-wife team out of Baltimore who make coastal-inspired home décor.
“We’ve been selling locally sourced products before if became in vogue,” he says.
Half of Johnson’s family resides in Guatemala, which influences his purchasing.
“Textiles and handicraft are part of living in Latin America. A lot of what I sell is my personal taste, but it’s more about setting the tone,” says Johnson.
And while Su Casa does carry some beachy items, Johnson says the products that are sold at his beach locations are also for sale in Maryland.
“It’s not all palm trees and flamingos. You can come in to Su Casa and get a great sofa,” says Johnson.
101 Garfield Pkwy., Bethany Beach • 829-8398; 86 Atlantic Ave., Ocean View • 829-1018
Published as “Exceptional Shops” in the June 2020 issue of Delaware Today magazine.