Judy Demeno, owner of Coolspring Cottage, located at 28 South Walnut Street, says that she has been in retail for as long as she can remember, starting out in Salisbury where she is from at a small boutique before opening her first store in Lewes 28 years ago. A few years ago, she had a store further north on Walnut Street which she closed, but said she felt the dynamic of Milford was changing and that it was the right time to return.
“Things are on the upswing in Milford,” Ms. Demeno said. “I have spoken to a lot of people who have purchased homes here, some of them fixer-uppers, and plan to use them as retirement homes. I see more businesses here that are in line with my merchandise, like Delmarva Modern and Josephine Keir. The new hospital will bring a lot of people to Milford and with Touch of Italy coming downtown, the future looks bright for Milford.
Ms. Demeno said that her store focuses on women’s clothing, but she likes to sell other merchandise that complement the clothing. The store currently has a beach theme for the summer months with bright, cheerful colors and white accents. The store offers home décor, accessories and jewelry along with children’s items that Ms. Demeno says have been very popular.
“I try to change the theme with the way times are changing and with the seasons,” Ms. Demeno says. “The trend is moving now from beach themes to coffee, so I may bring in some more coffee-related items. Animal and pet-related items are big sellers as well, she says. I change my windows often, not just to show off my merchandise, but because the sun can damage what I put there. I often get compliments on my window decorations and people have said it is what brought them into the store.”
According to Ms. Demeno, Milford has changed since she last had a store in downtown. At the time her store was open in Milford previously, Arena’s was just coming to town so there was not as much activity downtown as there is now. She says that the cost of living in the Milford area is much lower than the beach area, yet people are close enough they can still enjoy the beaches. Ms. Demeno said that it was the perfect time to reinvest in Milford as she felt like she was getting in on the ground floor of a growing downtown movement.
“Let’s face it, property at the beach is expensive,” Ms. Demeno said. “The beach area is lovely, but it is also filling up. With the changes in Milford, especially the city’s focus on improving economic development in the town, it is the perfect opportunity to expand or begin a business here. Milford is extremely lucky to have Bryan Shupe as their mayor. I say that because he is a small business owner. He not only understands the city’s side of the spectrum, he understands what challenges we as small business owners face.”
The one thing Ms. Demeno would like to say change is the foot traffic in downtown Milford. She said it is improving, but she feels that the businesses downtown would benefit from a different type of foot traffic. However, she believes that the addition of Touch of Italy and similar types of businesses will improve that aspect of downtown.
“Milford is a very walkable town,” Ms. Demeno said. “The Riverwalk is a lovely place to take a stroll and there are many things to do and see in the downtown area. The town is working to improve that with the festivals they hold, but I do think they could expand on those somewhat to bring even more people into town. I really think they should look to Berlin, Maryland, a town that is very similar to Milford, and see how they built the foot traffic to the level they have today. I also think the brewery helps bring people here. It would be great if they were downtown as well to encourage people to walk around the city more.”
Coolspring Cottage has two locations, one at 33506 Crossing Avenue in Lewes, located behind Walgreens, and 28 South Walnut Street in Milford. The store is open from 10 AM to 5 PM Monday through Saturday.