When Karen and David Jayne noticed Patti Lewis browsing through their store on Main Street in Dagsboro, Jayne’s Reliable, they realized two things: she wore a Bethany Beach Fire Department T-shirt and she knew their business better than a casual shopper. Indeed, Lewis and her husband, Alex Isherwood, have owned a similar store, Coastal Classics, opposite Ocean View Deli, since 2005.
“We knew the widening of Route 26 would impact us, but when it became clear that we would lose both our enclosed porch that we use for items to attract passing motorists into the shop, as well as a portion of the actual building, there was no choice but to vacate,” said Isherwood.
It was a mutual customer, Karen Wiles of Fenwick Island, talking to Lewis about what was to be done with their shop-full of inventory, who suggested that there might be a great fit between the items sold at Coastal Classics and Jayne’s Reliable. She was right. And so was the timing.
It turns out that the Jayne’s had recently purchased the “house on the hill,” as it is known to Dagsboro locals, to eventually expand their business. It is located on the bend between where Route 26 turns toward Bethany and the road as it continues to Frankford.
So, they had an empty large house, perfect for storage, and a thriving store in which Coastal Classics old sign already welcomes familiar faces searching for that perfect brass door knob, towel rack and seashell-oriented gift.
“Within two weeks of meeting Patti and Alex, their inventory has all been packed and delivered to us,” said David Jayne. “It has been crazy, but it is a win-win-win. We especially love their distressed furniture and quirky items that we, too, are known for, and we will sell everything for them on consignment at the reasonable prices that make our customers return.”
An example of pricing and distressed furniture is the base of an old wooden factory cart.
“We have recently sold three as coffee tables,” said Jayne, pointing to a glossy home-and-garden style magazine where a similar one is depicted. “Pottery Barn sells replicas of these, made abroad, for more than twice the amount we sell originals.”
Jayne uses chalk-based paint to turn many old drab pieces of furniture into bright showpieces.
“We are now the sole Delaware distributor for Ce Ce Caldwell Paints,” he said. “We love all 24 of the colors. They are so natural, and both human and earth friendly — ‘green’ in every sense!” In fact, in August, Jayne will start offering classes to people who would like to give a new look to their own old stuff.
Being “green” is important to the Jaynes. In another example of a cooperative business inter-relationship, they work with Chantal Bouchard, who owns Nature Design Garden Center on Muddy Neck Road.
“We sell her plants that look great on our outside furniture, and she uses some of our pieces to help display her amazing selection of native plants, garden flowers and trees,” said Jayne.
And, on the front counter, near the sassy mermaid T-shirts, Karen Jayne pointed to a notice for Friday Open Mic nights benefiting the Shauna Rose Kaufman Foundation at the Artful Bean in Bethany.
“They have just started to sell fabulous veggie paninis, and we love hearing local musicians and supporting a great cause,” she said.
Then, introducing Joanne Novotny, owner of Pepper Creek Pizza and Subs, Jayne added, “They serve the best chicken cheesesteak sub anywhere… and they deliver!”
Novotny sells barbecue on Fridays on the empty corner lot next to Jayne’s Reliable.
“Our store is in the Savannah Square Shopping Center on Route 113,” she said. “It is a new center and, unfortunately, many of the units never opened for business, so I’m trying to be creative in getting people to know about us. We appreciate David and Karen helping by making our menus available to their customers.”
It appears there is a community of business owners and customers all looking out for each other, trying to succeed in these trying times.
Isherwood noted, “We have really enjoyed our customers and are so pleased that they now have Jayne’s Reliable to look for the kinds of things we sold. We still have our house in Bethany and will continue to support our old business neighbors, like the Ocean View Deli, who have no choice but to stay.”
“Money is like manure,” he continued. “You have to spread it around to make it work. The state must remember that it needs these businesses to succeed in order to contribute to its general revenue. Progress is what it is, but it can be disruptive. I hope it works well for everyone.”
The phone number for Jayne’s Reliable is (302) 927-0049.