By Stephanie Manley
RED BANK – Kris Winters and her family occupied the Firehouse Specialty Shop for 35 years. When her parents decided it was time to retire, Winters went out on her own, opening Cabana 19, a beach-inspired clothing and accessories store on White Street.
Eileen and Chuck Hendrickson, Winters’ parents, originally opened Firehouse Specialty Shop 35 years ago on Canal Street in Red Bank. Fifteen years later, the Hendricksons – with the added help of their sons, David and Ted – moved their store to Broad Street where they continued their business of screen-printing and embroidery.
In 2002, Winters joined her parents and brothers at the Broad Street location. She opened The Bees Knees in the front of the store, selling high-end women’s clothing. The Bees Knees went out of business in 2009 but Winters continued selling “beach-themed” clothing at a lower price point under a new name: Jersey Shore Apparel.
Earlier this year Firehouse Specialty Shop was sold to Athlete’s Alley in Shrewsbury and the family decided to move out of the building altogether. That meant Jersey Shore Apparel would close as well.
Eileen and Chuck retired, David moved over to Athlete’s Alley with the shop and Ted opened his own screen-printing and embroidery store in Atlantic Highlands.
“At that point,” Winters said, “I had to decide if I wanted to continue with what I had in the front of [Firehouse Specialty Shop].”
Winters ultimately decided she wanted to stay in the retail business and opened Cabana 19, taking over the former location of a Verizon Wireless store.
The store opened on July 23, just in time for the annual Red Bank Sidewalk Sales.
The sidewalk sales went well,” Winters said. “It was “good exposure. It was also nice that [Firehouse Specialty Shop] was still open because they were able to direct people over here.”
With help from her father, Winters was able to completely renovate her new location in just under two months. Her main goal for the new store was to have something less overwhelming and confusing for customers. The old location was “three things in one and it was odd,” Winters said. Cabana 19, she hopes, will be more appealing and self-explanatory.
Winters also focused on creating a store name that “was gender-neutral and beachy.” Number 19 was the Hendrickson family cabana number at Edgewater Beach Club in Sea Bright for Winters’ whole life, so it seemed fitting for her to give the moniker to her store.
So far business is going well for Winters. “I think the [customer] traffic here is better than on Broad Street,” she said.
She has kept the monogramming and personalized gift aspect of Jersey Shore Apparel and stuck with casual beach clothing, which has been attracting lots of women to shop. The store also carries accessories including bags, hats and jewelry and home goods such as candles and picture frames.