Kim Sherman is hoping that necessity is the mother of invention.
What started last summer as a search in Ocean City for a place to buy a “nice” set of sheets resulted in the Oct. 1 opening of Sheets by the Seashore in the Stainton’s Gallery of Shops on the 800 block of Asbury Avenue.
The shop sells linens and other bedding necessities, such as pillows, blankets and bathrobes.
“Our main target was to attract the visitors who have to bring their own sheets and may have forgotten or who don’t prefer the sheets the rental has provided,” said Sherman, owner of the new shop. “We provide a reasonably priced sheet that offers quality as well.”
But Sherman said that after a blockbuster Fall Block Party this weekend, she realized that the demand for a place to buy sheets without making a trip to one of the big box stores on the mainland extends beyond visitors to second homeowners and year-round residents.
Ocean City has a year-round population of only 11,701, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. But the island has almost 20,000 taxable properties, including second homes and vacation rental properties — there are lots of beds in town in need of sheets.
“We believe we are on to something from the results of the Block Party,” Sherman said.
She and business collaborator Billy Strine work in real estate in the Philadelphia area. Strine owns a home in the Gardens and what should have been a simple search in town for some sheets proved to be an odyssey.
“There is no where on the island to get a ‘nice’ pair of sheets,” Sherman said. “You may find some but they overpriced, made of compromising quality and “pot luck” choices of colors and sizes.
Sherman’s shop offers what she calls “durable but lightweight” sheets — the equivalent of 600-count, according to the packaging. The product saves on drying time and is great for travel, she said.
“So if the visitor falls in love with them, they could bring them season after season,” Sherman said. “These sheets are a great alternative to renting (sheets). Now the visitors time can be spent doing the things they came down to do.”
Specials listed at the store offer two sets of king- or queen-sized sheets for $75 or two sets of full or twin sheets for $50.
“This is our first go-’round as retail merchants,” Sherman said. “We are listening and keeping our ears open for feedback. We want to make our consumer happy.”
Stainton’s provides a central cashier for more than 70 small vendors on the remodeled first floor of the landmark department store that first opened 100 years ago and anchored Ocean City’s downtown until it closed in the 1990s. The cooperative allows folks like Sherman to venture into retail without having to staff the shop.
“We have a lot to learn, but we are excited to provide a great shop in town that has been a long time coming,” Sherman said.