Special to the Star and Wave
by Rachel Shubin
This seaside town is experiencing a winter revival. Even amid a long, cold winter, the population picks up on weekends, when out-of-towners come in from the surrounding areas to see what the vibrant summer community offers in the offseason.
Visitors will be pleased to see that many of Cape May’s businesses offer wintertime hours and a selection of merchandise catering to all the seasons. The spotlight that basks Cape May in a summer glow, turns to a cooler and gentler radiance in winter.
The artful vibe of Givens Circle is apparent in their window display before shoppers enter the store. Located at 418 Washington St., they are open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will be open daily starting Mid-March.
“Cape May has a following of people who enjoy the solitude,” Owner Lindsay Givens Casale said. “It’s gorgeous on the beach.”
Her husband and fellow shop owner, Danny Casale, agrees.
“Just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful,” Danny Casale said. “Cape May is becoming more of a year-round place to visit and we want to be a part of that and help cultivate it. Plus, Lindsay is in love with the shop.”
Lindsay Casale enjoys keeping the shop open, for people who want to stop in and find great gifts for holidays and birthdays.
“It’s nice to see people appreciate more than just the 80-degree beach weather,” Lindsay Casale said.
Danny’s Grandfather was the late Vince Casale, who opened Casale’s Shoes on the mall. When Danny and Lindsay opened their shop, Vince Casale advised them to keep their doors open year-round.
The offseason gives the Casales more time to chat with visitors to the shop.
“We have a lot of really great little conversations that come up, because we have more time talk to people and spend with them,” Lindsay Casale said.
Shop owners also enjoy having their friends and other fellow shop owners and local businesses stop in to see them.
“Our friends come in to see us in with their morning coffee, so there is also a social aspect to it,” Danny Casale said.
In November and December, the Casales hosted a pottery class in their shop. Local artist Molly Bernstein came in and taught a class on ceramics.
“We moved all the stock and made a makeshift studio,” Lindsay Casale said. “We had to take it down and put it away and back out for the second night. We wouldn’t have been able to do that in July.”
Givens Circle also hosted various art openings during their summer season. The Casales enjoy thinking of other ways to utilize their shop space during the offseason.
“We love to bring in artists for meet and greets and their collection of works,” Lindsay Casale said. “We have met so many people through it. And other business owners come in, so we get to know them too, which was awesome. That is what keeps me excited.”
With the summer season not far in the future, the Casales shift the times they visit the beach.
“We enjoy the beach at a different time and take early morning dips,” Danny Casale said. “The sunset is eight o’clock so we go to Cape May Point and swim before sunset.”
Lindsay Casale notes that they start to see familiar faces at the same time each year.
“We always enjoy seeing return customers,” she said.
Find them online at www.givenscircle.com.
Louisa’s Chocolate Bar offers a sweet option for shoppers. Located at 106 Jackson St., the shop is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The shop sells a variety of artisanal chocolates and caramels, that are sure to delight customers craving chocolate while walking the Washington Street Mall.
“Cape May is surprisingly not dead,” Louisa’s employee Molly Bernstein said. “There are plenty of people here, with more and more people from the city coming down on weekends. They like and prefer the quiet atmosphere.”
Cape May’s proximity to Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, makes it an easy weekend trip destination.
“I enjoy the seasonal aspect of living here and how much it changes,” Bernstein said. “I like how the pace picks up and you meet new people. More and more young people are coming down. We are seeing a broader demographic and different types of people, with more diversity. It makes me really hopeful that Cape May is becoming a place for everyone to come down.”
Cape May’s quieter season is a time for locals to come out and go to stores that they might not have time to see during the hustle of the summer.
“I like the pace of the offseason; it recharges you from the summer,” Bernstein said. “More locals come in and it’s relaxing.”
The offseason provides shop employees more opportunities to have fun in the store.
“We can decorate more and put a lot of thought into how we present our inventory and curating what we carry,” Bernstein said. “It’s always a good time to reflect on both things.”
Louisa’s Chocolate Bar offers sales throughout the winter season.
Around the corner at 429 Washington St. is the green façade of Lace Silhouettes Lingerie. Lace Silhouettes is an intimate apparel brand that carries popular brands and unique accessories. They are open daily; hours may vary.
Manager Shawna Hulse says the store stays open to cater to year-round residents. Its sister store, The Cotton Company, is also open daily.
“We try to stay open for our local following,” Hulse said. “We like to have our store open for guests who want to come in to shop in winter.”
Hulse said shoppers vary from people coming in from out-of-town to check on their houses and people visiting for holidays.
“I like working in the winter and getting to know the local population,” Hulse said. “I also have the time to invest and build those relationships with our local community. The more stores that are open, the more people come to the mall. It keeps the community going.”
Lace Silhouettes is celebrating their 30th anniversary. Shop online at http://www.lacesilhouettes.com.