There are three absolutes in this wacky world of ours:
(3) Nobody likes how they look in a swimsuit.
“Even if they’re the tiniest little thing you’ve ever seen, everyone is kind of intimidated and scared,” said Liz Welsh, the owner of Body Double Swimwear in Fenwick Island. “But once they show us and let us help them, we will find them a suit.”
Welsh knows of what she speaks. The owner of Body Double since December 2017, Welsh worked for the Fenwick retailer during the summers since she was 16, spending the busy season in town with her family each year. It didn’t take her long to know that this was the place for her.
“The first summer I worked here, I came home and told my parents, ‘We’re going to own this store one day,’” said Welsh. “It was my dream to have it. To be honest, I didn’t really think it would come true, because I always envisioned myself living in New York City. I never really thought I’d actually live in Fenwick Island, Del., year-round. I would have thought that was crazy if you told me that years ago.”
And, Welsh did indeed live in New York City for a while after finishing college at Syracuse University. She worked for a year in the Big Apple doing social media, and then another year doing planning for Lord & Taylor. After that stint, Welsh moved to Washington, D.C., for a year, and then another year in Baltimore. Then she knew what she had to do.
“In July 2016, I was in my job in Baltimore, and I called Nancy one day,” she said of former Body Double owner Nancy Ruppert, “and said I was miserable. ‘Let’s do it.’ So I quit two weeks later, moved here and have been doing this. I survived my first winter here, so I knew I could do it. I actually loved it here in the winter.”
Welsh leapt into her new business interest with both feet. While eating at One Coastal one night with her mother, discussing plans for the store, she noticed designer Gina Drago’s name on the back of the restaurant’s menu. The two of them Googled Drago’s work and were so impressed they hired her to help launch a new look for the store.
“She’s incredible,” said Welsh. “I told her a few ideas of what I wanted, and the next thing you know, she presented me with an amazing design board. I just let her run with it. The only thing I picked out was the [dressing room] curtains. I won that one.”
The changes are indeed dramatic. The outside color of the store has changed, as have the walls on the inside. There is a new front desk — custom-made by a wood artist in Berlin, Md. — and a new format for the fixtures, opening up more space on the sales floor. There is also a newly-updated logo, meaning new signage outside to reflect that change.
“I’m kind of crazy,” said Welsh, with a laugh. “I take on everything at once and say, ‘Let’s do it.’ There’s still so much more I want to do, but I have to pace myself. Now I’ll wait until the fall.”
What hasn’t changed at the store is an emphasis on customer service — something that Welsh credits to Ruppert’s preaching over the years.
“Our customer service sets us apart,” said Welsh. “We wait on people. We explain the layout of the store, which can really be overwhelming and intimidating when someone walks in. And I’m really big on the thought that everyone must be greeted — it can’t just be a ‘Hello.’ I want to hear, ‘What are you looking for? Can I point you in a general direction?’ I’ve had customers comment to me how much they like that. I hate when I walk into a store and nobody says hello to me, or having to track someone down in a mall to ring me up. It’s like, ‘I’m trying to give you my money. Where are you?’”
Body Double is also well-known for their ability to get people into the right swimsuit, with the right fit. Welsh credits a vast selection at the store, and the willingness of her employees to genuinely help.
“Our big thing is, pick out a few get in the room and show us something,” said Welsh. “Every brand we have here runs different. Some run smaller, some run bigger. And my girls are educated on that.
“We carry bra sizes up to an H-cup, and I think we’re known for that. We have kids sizes. Sizes up to 24. And everything here is sold separate, so you don’t have to buy a top and bottom of the same size. You don’t even have to buy a bottom, because most people already have a black bottom at home.”
And Welsh said she and her employees are honest with their customers. She doesn’t want someone walking around with a swimsuit from her store that doesn’t fit well or isn’t particularly flattering.
“I want everyone to look great when they leave here, and I want them happy with what they picked.”
Body Double Swimwear is located at 1010 Coastal Highway in Fenwick Island. They can be reached at (302) 537-1444, and they are located online at bodydoubleswimwear.com.
By Darin J. McCann