OCEAN CITY - Every customer who walks into Asbury Kitchen & Bath Gallery gets the same level of attention from owner Dot Taccarino.
That philosophy has served her remodeling business well, she said.
"You could sell a replacement knob for a cabinet one day and the following day you sell them a whole kitchen," she said. "Every customer who walks through my door is my most important customer."
Taccarino, of Upper Township, and her husband, Lou, have spent their careers in the home remodeling business.
"We do a little of everything - from remodeling to new construction," she said.
Asbury Kitchen & Bath Gallery sells cabinets manufactured by Mouser, of Elizabethtown, Ky., and Christiana Cabinetry, of Christiana, Pa. Taccarino said these makers have a large product line that can meet any taste or budget.
"White cabinets never go out of style in Ocean City. Most of the time, people will go with warm wood colors. But they want a lighter, seashore look," she said. "White and blue are always in vogue."
Taccarino serves as a principal designer along with her longtime collaborator, William Kerner, of Lower Township.
Despite the 2007 recession and the 2008 housing market collapse, Asbury Kitchen & Bath has stayed busy helping homeowners improve the look and functionality of their kitchens and bathrooms.
"When they can't sell, they remodel their homes," she said.
The construction industry sustained itself largely on remodeling jobs after the housing-market collapse, said Rick Van Osten, spokesman for the Builder's League of South Jersey. But the market is showing improvement in places such as Ocean City, where dozens of homes are in various stages of construction.
"Stone Harbor, Ocean City - those places have turned a corner," he said. "People feel more confident about the economy. Interest rates are still really low. And even though a hurricane just came through here, people still want to be by the ocean."
Asbury Kitchen & Bath's customer base has been dominated lately by Baby Boomers, many of whom are getting their investment homes in Cape May or Atlantic counties ready for their retirements, when they'll move in full time.
These homes will become the new center of the extended family's attention as children and grandchildren return for holidays and vacations, she said.
Like most of Ocean City's downtown, her showroom across from City Hall was flooded by Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29. She and her employees continued to work with clients in the weeks after the natural disaster, even as they remodeled their own damaged showroom.
Often the customers who invite them to remodel their Ocean City vacation homes will hire them to remodel their homes out of state, Kerner said.
"We get a ton of referrals," Kerner said. "Once we get attached to a client, we'll work with them in Florida, Maryland or Pennsylvania."
Contact Michael Miller:
Asbury Kitchen & Bath Gallery
Location: 929 Asbury Ave., Ocean City
Owners: Lou and Dot Taccarino, of Upper Township
Revenues: Not disclosed