(Nov. 13, 2020) While 2020 has presented extreme challenges, canine-centric retailers, Delmar and Dena Smith, have continued expanding their paw print after opening a new business venture, the Doggie Style Dog Boutique & Bakery, in West Ocean City last weekend.
On Tuesday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the store, which is located in the Outlets Ocean City.
Delmar Smith said the new location is comparable to the Doggie Style Canine Café the couple opened in 2005 in the Inlet Village on the southern edge of the Ocean City Boardwalk.
“It’s a doggie style canine café just like this,” he said.
The longtime small business operators have charted continued growth over the last decade and a half after opening Treasure Island in 2009 and OC Socks last year in the Inlet Village.
“Before that we had a store in Solomon’s Island for about 12 years,” he said.
Prior to 2005, the couple ran Bears by the Bay in Calvert County, but after Delmar retired from the Maryland State Police the pair settled in West Ocean City.
“We’ve always thought about expanding to West Ocean City,” he said.
Frequent patrons of the Inlet Village’s Canine Café will find some familiar faces at the new spot at the Outlets Ocean City.
In addition to English bulldog ambassador, Kermit Z Dog, the location is being managed by longtime cohort, Linda Cline.
Pet owners looking to pamper four-legged companions can find stuffed toys, canine clothing, bakery cases loaded with doggie delights, breed-specific socks and even pooch-themed facemasks.
Since unlocking the doors at the dog boutique last Saturday, community response has been overwhelming.
“So far it’s been a good experience and we’re excited,” he said. “West Ocean City is definitely growing.”
In fact, 2020 has witnessed the Smith’s retail footprint swell northward after opening Sock Avenue in Rehoboth Beach earlier this year.
“That’s actually a dog boutique and sock store,” he said. “It’s the largest sock store in the world that we know of.”
The Delaware-based store, which echoes the success of OC Socks, is stocked with roughly 2,000 styles of foot coverings.
“That was a huge success this year even through covid,” he said.
Sock Avenue thrived despite some initial hurdles.
“As soon as we got opened … they told us we had to close,” he said. “That was rough.”
By summer, Delaware health officials eased covid-19 restrictions and the Rehoboth Avenue store prospered.
“The weather for the last two months has been great,” he said. “It’s like an extended season.”
Delmar Smith said the new West Ocean City location is looking to replicate the Sock Avenue approach.
“This store is like our store in Rehoboth Beach [and] has a combination of our best-selling socks,” he said.
The ongoing pandemic also helped spur the Smiths to launch their fifth storefront.
“Another reason we opened this store is for income in the offseason,” he said.
In past years, the Smiths spent a large part of winter vending at holiday craft shows, which have largely been canceled due to pandemic health restrictions.
“We go to the [Kennedy Kreiger] Festival of Trees in Timonium and we do a big Christmas show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,” he said.
With typical cold weather routines altered, the savvy retailers rewrote the script for 2020.
“This is a good opportunity to make money where we couldn’t normally,” he said.
To that end, Smith said the trio of stores in the Inlet Village would be open daily through Christmas.
“After that they’ll be open weekends weather permitting,” he said. “If it’s 15 degrees and wind blowing, we’re not opening.”
Both the Doggie Style Dog Boutique & Bakery in West Ocean City and Doggie Style Canine Café in Ocean City are open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, call 443-624-0564 or email email@example.com.