Rhodes a familiar face in Bethany

It would be difficult to find anyone familiar with the Delaware resort area who has never seen or heard of Rhodes 5&10 — the all inclusive store on the main strip of Bethany Beach, next to the downtown bank branch. What even those familiar with Rhodes might not know is that the store that has been a local landmark since the spring of 1969 got its start from the social unrest of the 1960s.

Coastal Point • Monica Fleming: The Rhodes 5&10 family takes a break from re-stocking for the season to pose for a photograph in front of the store.Coastal Point • Monica Fleming
The Rhodes 5&10 family takes a break from re-stocking for the season to pose for a photograph in front of the store.

Arnold Rhodes had had a store in Fenwick Island since 1963 (which has since closed), and he had stores in Washington, D.C. But after the 1968 riots in D.C. left him with a burned-down store, he decided not to re-build there. He and his sister, Pearl Weinberg, started anew and permanently made Bethany Beach the home to Rhodes 5&10 in the spring of 1969. Rhodes sold to store to his daughter, Diane Turnahan, and retired about 10 years ago.

“We’ve kept it a family business, to coincide with the family atmosphere of Bethany Beach,” said Turnahan. “We have many employees that we’ve had for many, many years. Lisa, our current manager — we’ve had her mother working here, her sisters, her son, her nieces and nephews. And my own family — my husband, Bob, and five children — all have a part in working here.”

Turnahan was not a stranger to retail herself, as she had owned Diane’s Shirt and Shell Shop just two doors down and still owns Fish Tales, across the street. Asked if she always knew she would end up working at Rhodes, Turnahan laughed, saying, “I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.”

Turnahan said the store has stayed the same for much of its 39 years.

“It’s important to keep the old-time atmosphere,” she said. “We like to change things as little as possible.”

“The only thing that has changed is the chain stores that are around now. But, we still keep the family values and atmosphere, and that gets us a lot of return business and repeat customers,” said Turnahan.

The store is truly a catch-all for beach needs. It has everything from doll babies to dish towels, flash cards to crayons, light bulbs to electrical outlets, sand buckets to surge protectors, door stops to sprinklers, shirts to hula hoops and, of course, a huge selection of beach chairs and old-time beach umbrellas.

“We’re known for our variety of old-fashioned beach umbrellas,” said Lisa Stroud, manager.

In addition to that claim to fame, it is also a big stop for newspaper customers — one of whom simply dropped his money on the counter while Lisa had stepped away this week, as could only be done in a true “small-town family store.”

“That must’ve been for a paper,” she explained, putting the money in the register.

With the sadness of last spring — which brought the deaths of both long-time employee Christianne Baker and former co-owner Pearl Weinberg — still fresh on their minds and heavy on their hearts, the Rhodes “family’ are looking forward to the spring and summer 2008 season and to the future, said Turnahan.

“Hopefully, it’ll be the same as the last 20 years. We hope Bethany Beach will always be a place people will come to. With everything going on in the world, hopefully, we can always count on Bethany Beach to be a place people want to visit,” she said.

Rhodes 5&10 is located at 118 Garfield Parkway in Bethany Beach. They are open seven days a week from March to October, and staff were recently spotted restocking the store bucket brigade-style in preparation for this month’s seasonal opening. For more information, call (302) 539-9191.