WHETHER you’re shopping Downtown or up on the boards, there’s something for everyone at Stainton’s.
The Ocean City staple claims two homes on the island – one on Asbury Avenue in the heart of the downtown and a second new location on the Boardwalk – and showcases the wares and creations of local artisans, hobbyists and small business owners. This inventory includes everything from resin art to photography, vintage decor to jewelry, candles to candy, clothing to specialty foods.
“It is a one-stop shop,” manager Brad Jacobson said. “Our motto has been that we’re always open and we have a little bit of everything for everyone.”
Stainton’s tenants pay rent and a small percentage of sales to open up shop with the larger business, but the partnership provides much more than just the selling space.
“We consider ourselves an incubator for small local businesses to get started,” Brad said. “We take the local crafters, hobbyists, and small businesses and give them an opportunity to get their business started.”
Brad is retired from the finance industry, so in combining his background with that of Stainton’s Director Bridget Jacobson (the two are married), who has had a career in retail operations, the pair provides a solid support network for those selling at Stainton’s, including inventory management, plan revenues and visual setup techniques.
“We can make sure they’re fiscally responsible,” Brad said. “We’re giving them an opportunity to be successful.”
The method must work, because more than half a dozen small business owners have fledged from Stainton’s to open their own brick-and-mortar locations.
“The end goal is to provide a successful business model to be able to outgrow Stainton’s,” Brad said. “That’s why we support the local community so well. We’re making the entire city better by helping them open a business.”
Making the community a better place is important not only to the Jacobsons, but also to Stainton’s relatively new owners, brothers Raj and Yogi Khatiwala. The Ventnor natives have purchased a number of Ocean City institutions, all with the intent to help the town thrive.
“They believe in the city,” Brad said. “They’re locals. They’re not a big company coming in. They’re two brothers just trying to make a difference. They’re building families with what they’re doing.”
In buying Stainton’s, Brad explained, the Khatiwalas committed to Bridget. They didn’t want to interfere with her running the store, but did want to provide any support and tools she needed.
“I don’t want to take credit for any of it – it’s all Bridget. Nobody works harder,” Brad said. “The brains and the vision – everything has been her. She deserves the credit for what this has turned into.”
Brad explained the Khatiwalas also provided the resources for Bridget to not only continue running Stainton’s, but to expand to the Boardwalk. This second location opened Memorial Day weekend, and it offers the same business model as its Downtown counterpart. The two locations give an opportunity for businesses downtown to have a presence on the Boardwalk – and vice versa. Additionally, businesses that don’t stay open all year can keep a presence in town during the off season at either year-round Stainton’s property.
“By doing what we do here, we’re able to get through those winter months together,” Brad said. “We staff it. We cover the overhead. All they have to do is put their product out.”
A bonus to staying open all year at the Boardwalk location is being on the 12th block, where neighbors Henry’s and Candyland also cater to clientele 12 months of the year.
“The shops at 1200,” Brad said with a chuckle. “That’s not the official name, but it should be.”
After celebrating Halloween at both stores, Brad said Stainton’s was ready to turn everything over to Christmas, creating an outdoor wonderland with 100 yards of lights along the Boardwalk and festooning the indoors with plenty of festive decorations. The ambiance is perfect for holiday shopping, which Stainton’s has in spades with its myriad of local, one-of-a-kind inventory. (Plus, greeting cards are the number one selling item in terms of volume at the Asbury Avenue store.)
“Most importantly is our customer service. We try to add a touch of class in Ocean City at each location,” Brad said. They also add a touch of charity. Bridget chooses a local nonprofit to showcase each month, and shoppers can contribute to the cause.
Stainton’s planted its roots in Ocean City 100 years ago, and while the business has evolved and changed hands over the years, it was also important to Bridget and Brad to stay true to the company’s founding principles.
“We try to uphold the standards of the original Stainton’s, which is providing to the community, being a part of the community and being able to offer something that’s for everyone, for all ages,” Brad said. “It’s to not only support the community, but to support the small businesses all around.”
Stainton’s is located Downtown at 810 Asbury and by the beach at 1216-1218 Boardwalk in Ocean City. Reach Stainton’s at (609) 545- 8688. Learn more at staintons.com.
Find this and more in the November/December issue of OC Mag