LACEY, NJ — LavenderBlue, a small gift and jewelry store, was set to close in June and become another business casualty of the coronavirus pandemic. The store built a loyal community following through its 13 years, and their customers weren’t about to let them go.
Their supporters included Jay and Lynette Houle — Lacey residents with their own jewelry shop. Former LavenderBlue owners John and Ginny Chiusano used to ask them when they would buy the Lacey store.
But the Houle’s always said it was out of their reach, a level above Jewels by the Bay — their small, seasonal Long Beach Island store. Their labor of love on Beach Haven, however, wasn’t immune to the pandemic struggles.
The Houle’s visited Jewels by the Bay last June, as Governor Phil Murphy began allowing “nonessential” retail businesses to reopen in a limited capacity.
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It wasn’t good. The roof leaked, and Jewels by the Bay sustained severe water damage. Reopening would have required emptying the store for repairs.
“We didn’t want to let go of that store,” Lynette Houle told Patch. “It’s not about making money for us. That store was very special to us. It was an inheritance from my brother that passed.”
They didn’t know what to do with Jewels by the Bay. Lynette says it sounds “cheesy,” but she prayed one night. When she woke up June 8, Jay told her LavenderBlue announced their upcoming closure.
John and Ginny Chiusano planned to close the store June 30. But Jay and Lynette Houle called the Chiusano’s and offered to finally buy LavenderBlue.
With that, the LBI shopped permanently closed, but LavenderBlue survived. The Houle’s kept LavenderBlue’s products and also brought in merchandise from Jewels by the Bay.
Since the community played an instrumental role in LavenderBlue’s survival, the shop is also giving back to the community.
For every $15 spent, customers earn a ticket in a weekly drawing. The store has also partnered with Ocean County charities, selling products in which proceeds support local causes.
“People are coming in, still shopping, still visiting,” Lynette Houle said. “So I would say it’s really been all about the community.”
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This article originally appeared on the Barnegat-Manahawkin Patch