Shop Talk: Island Chics
The welcoming exterior of 2 Vintage Chics boutique in Tilghman Island
STORY AND PHOTOS by Maire McArdle
Two women with a unique boutique invite shoppers to Tilghman Island
On a clear, cold Saturday morning, the scenic drive from Easton to Tilghman Island in our VW Beetle was occupied by quiet conversation and oldies radio tunes. Looking forward to treating ourselves to a cozy breakfast, we were surprised when we pulled up to see a new shop directly next door to our favorite island restaurant, Two If By Sea. The tiny, rundown adjacent building had been transformed with bright yellow paint and a rustic-planked porch artfully displaying an assortment of wrought-iron chairs, plant stands, and baskets brimming with islandy trinkets. In the window, modern clothing was stylishly arranged alongside antiques, upcycled tables, and eclectic homewares. I shot an unmistakable arched eyebrow at my husband. He did not have to guess where I was going after my eggs Benedict.
Malissa Kirszenbaum and Penny Adams each greeted me with huge smiles as I stepped into 2 Vintage Chics, their delightfully merchandised shop. We instantly chatted, exchanging business cards and stories about where we had all lived before. While my eyes darted to take in the upscale mix of antique beaded bags and brooches, “new” hip sweaters and tops in a wide array of sizes, scarves, and boho headbands, locally crafted sea glass jewelry and fun gift items — I found out all the details about how these women’s destinies converged to open their funky new boutique.
Malissa moved to Tilghman in 2014 with her husband, Leon, a pharmacist. He had been offered a position with CVS Easton and it seemed like a natural time for the empty-nester couple to make a big move from rural Howard County. Malissa had been a paralegal for almost 32 years and had been an owner/partner of a small boutique, The Pink Cabbage, in Ellicott City. She intended to continue with her paralegal business from Tilghman, but shortly after she arrived on the island, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. After going through a period of beneficial treatments, she was able to achieve some physical relief. She relinquished her partnership with The Pink Cabbage, yet her savvy background would be the fuel to pursue an unrealized dream — to have a shop right there on Tilghman.
Penny Adams and Malissa Kirszenbaum admire the detailing on a new spring blouse. Upcycled furniture and vintage home decor and accessories fill the perimeter of the shop.
Penny, who had a 35-year career in national retail in York, PA, retired with her husband to Tilghman in 2015. After the first few quiet months, a conversation about possible employment with Patricia McGlannan, owner of the Tilghman Island Country Store, resulted in Penny accepting a perfect part-time job at the store. She had built-in opportunities to meet island neighbors and business owners. A short time after Penny began working at the Country Store, Malissa walked in.
Their mutual penchant for estate sales, auctions, and garage sales created an instant bond.
Curious about the small, empty stand-alone structure, which had formerly been the island barbershop, Malissa tracked down the owner, Henry Miller, (also head chef/owner of Two If By Sea next door) to ask about leasing the building. When he agreed and endorsed her shop idea, a real business plan kicked off. Knowing in her heart how strong a teammate Penny would be, Malissa approached her to join in this new chapter, honestly revealing the unpredictability of her disease and charting the challenges this endeavor could present. It was exactly what Penny was looking for. The new partners dedicated their creative passions and retail acumen to opening their one-of-a-kind boutique on Labor Day weekend last year.
A strong commitment to the island’s residents is carried out through their “give back to our community” efforts with four benefit events planned throughout the year. Because of their affordable pricing and variety, the owners have found that island visitors will return despite needing to travel the extra miles from Easton or St. Michaels.
Looking toward their second season, the shop opens on March 1 with a fresh look, new carefully-curated fashions and a host of surprises ranging from local art to fanciful mermaids and nautical-themed gifts, all on display with heart-warming smiles from two women who love what they do.
2 Vintage Chics
Open through March 31st on
Saturdays: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sundays: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Beginning April 1st, store hours are:
Fridays: noon-5 p.m.;
Saturdays: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.;
Sundays: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.;
Mondays: 8 a.m.-noon
Follow them on Facebook
Phone: Malissa: 443-838-4776; Penny: 717-309-5564
5776 Tilghman Island Road, Tilghman Island