As the city of Myrtle Beach celebrates its 75th anniversary, locals and vacationers are taking this summer to enjoying the many attractions Myrtle Beach has to offer.
The city has a variety of options for families, including 87 premiere golf courses, exciting attractions and nightlife, and of course 60 miles of sandy beaches. But many vacationers flock to the shore for a different reason.
Shopping on the Grand Strand has been dramatically increasing in the last 75 years, making Myrtle Beach a shopaholic’s heaven.
The city is home to some shopping locations such as The Market Common, Tanger Outlets, Broadway at the Beach and Barefoot Landing. But the stores up and down Ocean Boulevard in the heart of the city provide a shopper with every kind of Myrtle Beach souvenir available. T-shirt shops are a prominent as you stroll up and down the boulevard, but most were not willing to share their summer experiences with The Sun News.
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“Store such as those have a very brief amount of time to make an income,” said Buz Plyler, owner of the Gay Dolphin Gift Cove.
The Gay Dolphin has been in business for 68 years; Plyler’s father started the store. It was the first resort store in Myrtle Beach to stay open all year long, unlike some of the other stores on the strip. The gift shop used to be a part of an amusement park, and according to Plyler they have been targeting a “family atmosphere” ever since.
“We have had over 90,000 hits on our website since January,” said Plyler. “We are surprised by the sentimental attachment vacationers have for our store.”
Plyler has been focusing on setting up an online shop for the website to help adapt to the fast-paced society, although it will not compare to shopping in the actual store.
“We want the customers’ trip to the Gay Dolphin to be the most positive,” said Plyler. “We want everybody to be happy doing business here.”
He keeps his customers satisfied by staying up to date on his merchandise and making sure he meets all audiences’ needs. He gravitates toward “funny items with the best new jokes.” According to Plyler, keeping up with the fast pace of summer and the slowing economy is quite a challenge in the retail business.
“Every day and every week we adapt to the changes in society and this market,” he said.
The Gay Dolphin Gift Cove offers a variety of souvenirs and gifts from all over the world. They are famous for their personalized merchandise as well as their shark teeth jewelry. They carry “Mini Bicycle License Plates” with every name imaginable, something that Plyler prides himself on.
With more than 70,000 items at the Gay Dolphin, it is hard not to impulse buy all of the fun trinkets available. When it comes to finding the perfect souvenir for a loved one at home, the Gay Dolphin does not disappoint.
One of the newest stores to Ocean Boulevard, I LOVE SUGAR is a modern addition to the beach’s streets. The store offers a “candy experience” showcasing some of the most famous candies around the U.S., and a lot of it.
If you’re a gummy bear lover this shop is right up your alley. The store is home to three one-of-a-kind “Gummy Bear Chandeliers” which has 8,000 gummy bears in each chandelier. Talk about a “sweet” addition to the city!
Not all toursits like shopping along the boardwalk, though.
Meghan Coan has been visiting Myrtle Beach for the past four years while her brother attended school at Coastal Carolina University. She has become well acquainted with the city, and shopping falls high on her priority list while vacationing at the beach. According to Coan, The Market Common is one of her favorite shopping locations while she’s here.
“The atmosphere of the entire Market Common is my favorite in Myrtle,” said Coan. “The variety of stores is so great.”
Coan said she stays away from shopping by the boardwalk because she believes it is too crowded and over priced for the quality of the items.
“I’m from New Jersey and I could easily get custom T-shirts on the Seaside Boardwalk,” said Coan. “I try to get the most unique items when I’m on vacation and visit the boutiques I don’t have at home.”
Some people spend their whole vacation trying to find the perfect gifts for their families and friends, like Amanda Rutter. Rutter’s family owns a condo on the Grand Strand and she spends almost every summer visiting her home away from home in South Carolina. She believes it is important to bring gifts home for your loved ones.
“It shows how much you care and that you were thinking of them while you are away,” said Rutter.
Rutter’s favorite store in Myrtle Beach is the Gemini Boutique that has locations in Broadway at the Beach, Coastal Grand mall and The Market Common.
“The people that work there are so sweet and helpful,” said Rutter. “They have such nice things and they are reasonably priced, too.”
Gemini Boutique first opened their doors in 1969 and has been a family owned business ever since. They moved down to their beach locations in 1994. The DeLuca family would spend their summers camping up and down the east coast, and became very familiar with Myrtle Beach. This is when they decided to open their store as soon as Broadway at the Beach was built.
Jody DeLuca and his sisters manage all of the stores in Myrtle Beach; their mother opened their first boutique in Philadelphia. While she is still very involved in the company, she trusts her children with managing her stores. Jody DeLuca praises the shore for its southern hospitality and the fantastic weather all year round.
“There’s nothing bad you can say about Myrtle Beach,” said DeLuca. “It’s a beautiful place to live and it’s extremely convenient.Being in Myrtle Beach is such a blessing and it is just beautiful, not to mention our customers are the greatest.”