Just for Laughs

Just for Laughs owner Sue Tischler, right, proves the iconic snakes-in-a-can gag never grows old as she scares customers Michelle Bumm, of Swainton, left, and Jessica Keeler, of Rio Grande, at the novelty store in Cape May's Washington Street Mall on Friday.

Dale Gerhard

CAPE MAY — Susan Tischler turned a niche part of her clothing business into its own stand-alone shop three years ago.

Now the novelty store, Just for Laughs, is in many ways a more reliable business than her first clothing store, Kaleidoscope, on the Washington Street Mall.

Tischler, 61, of Lower Township, and her ex-husband, Barry Tischler, own and operate the gift shop, which features a mix of humorous T-shirts, books, greeting cards and toys.

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People might take a liking to the bacon-flavored dental floss or the Paddy’s Irish Pub T-shirt from Philadelphia’s favorite fictional bar. But most customers have others in mind, Tischler said.

“Almost nobody buys a yodeling pickle for themselves,” she said.

Tischler’s clothing store offered a line called Anne Taintor, products that display advertising’s idealized view of women in the 1950s with a modern twist.

The handbags, coin purses and stationery were very popular, so Tischler was confident that a store dedicated to this skewed take on life would be a hit with customers.

“I love comedy. I just love it. We had elements of that at Kaleidoscope. We thought this would be a good move,” she said.

The Washington Street Mall, with its upscale restaurants and art galleries, would seem an unusual choice to open a novelty store.

“It’s always a leap of faith,” she said. “But we’ve never been more confident of a concept as this one. It really takes the margin of error out of it.”

The Washington Street Mall is a collection of restaurants, boutiques, candy and fudge shops and clothing stores.

“It’s important to have a variety of stores to appeal to all different customers from the young to the old,” said Joanne Klineburger, president of the Washington Street Mall Business Improvement District.

The district collects money from each property for use in promotions and decorations at the mall.

Klineburger, of Lower Township, said the novelty store is a good fit because it reflects the eclectic mix found at the mall.

“One thing about the Washington Street Mall is every shop is unique. It’s not like a big-box store. You won’t find them just anywhere,” she said.

Tischler said it’s harder to predict changing fashion tastes and preferences from year to year for her clothing store than the lasting appeal of a zombie noisemaker.

Zombie products are popular, especially the T-shirts from AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

Some of the store’s products could best be described as tacky, or even purposely tasteless.

Tischler said they took some criticism over an inflatable toy bop-bag featuring President Obama in boxing gloves with a black eye.

Tischler, who said she leans Democratic, said the problem was they could not find the equivalent for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

“We try not to go over the line. We toe it,” she said.

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