NORTHFIELD - By the Sea Embroidery & Gifts has twice outgrown its location during its eight years in business, said owner Rosemary Schafer, of Ventnor.
Its new shop in London Square Mall on Tilton Road, which opened Dec. 10, sells clothing and gift items for babies, children and adults, and embroidering the recipient's name is included in the price, Schafer said.
"Word of mouth does a lot," Schafer said. "We had a very busy Christmas season for just being open."
Much of her work is done for area businesses and other groups, Schafer said. She does logo sweatshirts for a couple of area beach patrols, shirts for a Hamilton Township car dealership and recently embroidered 350 caps for an Atlantic City law firm to give to clients.
But individuals and small groups also are starting to seek her services for personalized gifts, Schafer said.
A collection for infants includes bibs and blankets, and anything can have the newborn's name embroidered on it, Schafer said. Younger children like tote bags, insulated lunch boxes and singing plush animals. Adults go for canvas shopping bags with metal frames, called market totes, and spa items such as bathrobes and wraps.
On a shelf in one corner are books with thousands of designs, and customers can choose their logos from among them, Schafer said. Whether it's one item for a single shopper, or hundreds at a time, each gets personal attention, Schafer said.
The workroom behind the retail area has one computerized sewing machine for small jobs, and a row of four linked machines that create the same design on four items at a time.
"You could buy a very nice car for (what I paid) for that four-head sewing machine," she said.
But Schafer said she believes in reinvesting some of her profits back into the business. She will soon get printing equipment to personalize things like coffee mugs, mouse pads and water bottles, adding to her product line.
Schafer said she got her start almost by accident. She and her husband, a retired Atlantic City police officer, own the Custard's Last Stand ice cream shop in Ventnor.
She always liked to sew as a hobby, and when sewing machines became computerized in the 1990s, her husband gave her one for Christmas.
"I played around with it in the wintertime when I was off from Custard's," and when they sold the ice cream stand eight years ago, she started By the Sea. They eventually bought back the ice cream stand.
"When sewing and computers went together, it was a natural fit for me, and I loved it," Schafer said.
She started out on Ventnor Avenue in Ventnor with one sewing machine, but the business soon outgrew the space, Schafer said. So she moved to Dorset Avenue, which had room for the four-head sewing machine, but that quickly became too small as well.
The London Square Mall shop is a good fit, with room for a retail area and plenty of space for the workshop, Schafer said. There is also a parking lot for customers.
"I think next Christmas season will be insane. Because of the new processes in printing and embroidery, it will be the place to go for personalized gifts," she said.
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