Bikinis and more adds local flavor to holiday gifts, and more

One step inside Fenwick Island hotspot Bikinis and More, and shoppers may think it’s Christmas in July, as a wide selection of bathing suits, flip-flops and beach apparel line the walls. What those shoppers are quickly learning, however, is that store owner Jill Lamberston has found a way to provide great deals on beach favorites and swimwear, as well as one-of-a-kind gifts for the holidays from local crafters.

Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor    : Eliza Craig's unique jewelry and Dana Smith's swag bags are among some of the hot commodities popping up at Fenwick Island's Bikinis and More.Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor
Eliza Craig's unique jewelry and Dana Smith's swag bags are among some of the hot commodities popping up at Fenwick Island's Bikinis and More.

“When we first opened the store,” she said, “we wanted to be a place for not only summertime shoppers, but for holiday stuff, too.”

The store, located in the Sunshine Plaza, just down the strip from The Pottery Place, will offer extended hours for holiday shoppers, providing a wide selection of popular beach brands, such as Reef, Sanuk, Roxy and Billabong, as well as some lesser-known, local commodities that are starting to turn a lot of heads.

Dana Smith, an Ocean City resident, started up her own “swag bags” line, which help bring style and convenience to the shore. Smith’s “swag bags” are designed to be ideal as jewelry travel bags or for carrying other loot and treasures. They bring a “beachy” swagger and style along on everyday adventures, she noted, and are available in a variety of sizes – even shoulder bags and purses.

“Dana does a great job with these bangs,” said Lamberston. “She puts a lot of detail into them, and the art really comes out. She’s also a great seamstress, and the bags, themselves, are very durable.”

Lamberston has also found retail success with Delaware native and jeweler Eliza Craig, who, although now a resident of Tuscon, Ariz., still credits Sussex County as her home. In 2003, she launched Eliza Craig Unique Jewelry Design, which combines her eye for fashion with a love for dramatic accessories.

Her experience as a fine-art photographer and art educator have merged to help distinguish her as a jeweler, handcrafting her unique collection using semi-precious gems, shells, wood, metal and other unusual materials. Her jewelry has been exhibited nationwide for its style of color, Western and ethnic influences and restrained design.

Another local artist has put out a line of “Hip Klips,” which make bringing loose change and cell phones to the beach a snap.

The swag bags and Eliza Craig jewelry, and the popular “Hip Klips,” are all available at Bikinis and More.

“It’s nice to work with artists who have ties to the area,” said Lambertson. “Obviously, there are a lot of places to shop during the holidays, but more and more, people are realizing the importance of shopping locally.”

Like many businesses that have been subjected to the pressures of the recent downturn in the economy, Lambertson has found herself making some changes, taking a second glance at what she purchases for the store.

“It’s definitely been a rough year for retail,” she acknowledged, “and maybe some would say it’s not the best time to do something different, like turn to local artists’ and crafters’ lines. But sometimes, you have to take a leap.”

Bikinis and More prides itself in staying open year-round, with hours cutting down to the weekends by the turn of the year. But with shoppers hitting the stores through the entire month, she’s hoping for steady seasonal business. While Black Friday kicked off the holiday shopping season last week, statistics note that the weekend and even days before Christmas are among the busiest shopping days each year.

“We’ll definitely be here for that, too,” said Lambertson.

Holiday gift bags are available, and many prices have been dropping with the temperatures. Women’s two-piece swimsuits are now available for $15 per piece, top or bottom.

“You can get a great new suit for just $30,” emphasized Lambertson.

Most summer apparel has been marked down to less than $20, as well, and flip-flops are currently half off. Men’s and women’s apparel items are available, and there are plenty of additional discounts, such as 20 percent off fall and holiday items and 25 percent off sunglasses.

“We’re here for all your holiday shopping,” said Lambertson.

To take advantage of the holiday sales and unique local items, drop into Bikinis and More, located in Fenwick Island’s Sunshine Plaza. For more information, including special holiday hours, call (302) 539-1147