Sunday, December 21, 2014


Apparently the landlords don't realize that people are buying things to eat and window shopping -  not spending money on expensive items.  

These long - time Stores will be Missed!

1.  Family Ts - Howard - 30 years on Balboa Island.  Whenever and wherever I wear one of his t-shirts or Hoodies I get complimented!  Over and over.  They were great looking, funny, salient, and true to the nature of Balboa Island!  Howard was the last of many t-shirt entrepreneurs on Balboa Island.  Now the t-shirts are generic corporate types!

2.  Martha's Bookstore.  
     Here is my article from the Coastal Breeze -
     This fall we have seen tremendous changes on Balboa Island’s Marine Avenue.  Howard, 5Cs, Ornate, Shanghai Pine Garden are all gone.  And Martha’s Bookstore!  Many were Island Fixtures—but Martha’s was the one that resonated the most with me. 

Years  ago Kathy and Stephanie lived in Brea and Fullerton and came to Newport  to walk on the beach every weekend.  They loved the water and the sunshine!  Together they decided to open a Bookstore on Balboa Island, but they could not find a location.  Instead  they worked with Bob Teller and got a booth at the Orange County Fairgrounds selling books.  Kathy continued her job as a graphic designer and Stephanie worked hers at Delta Airlines

Muralist Holly Wojan occupied the space that was to become Martha's Bookstore.  Holly decided to take another avenue in her life—leaving the store vacant except for the beautiful murals she had painted on the walls of the store. You can still see remnants of Holly’s work on the walls of Martha’s.—f lowers and patterns that made an eclectic background for the books, cards and gifts.

Kathy and Stephanie opened Martha’s Bookstore on July 28, 1989.  Using the wire racks they had from the swap meet, their books, some cards and little else.  Kathy had three children—Sara, her youngest,  who is now an engineer—was only 3!

Named after Kathy and Stephanie’s mother—Martha’s Bookstore is the place like home on Balboa Island. When you walk in the door you are immediately offered wine or tea.  There are always treats to nibble on while you shop. And book recommendations.  Often the latest ‘book club’ book.  Many a friendship has been forged as the result of their book club!

Martha’s  has always been the spot to buy everything from the latest Bestsellers to harder to find inspirational books.  There has been a parade of local authors signing books on weekends.  Everyone from Mark Victor Hansen to T. Jefferson Parker.

I  remember the ’salad days’ for Kathy and Stephanie—when Beanie Babies were the rage.  Kathy placed an order for 10 dozen without telling Stephanie.  She was afraid they would not sell, but when she took them to a local school—they did!  And sell, and sell and sell!

 The Beanies allowed Steph to quit her job at Delta and for Kathy to move to a larger apartment and send Sara to St. Margaret’s private school in San Clemente for 7th and 8th grade.  It was there Sara discovered she was a genius at Math.  Kathy says, “This was life changing for Sara.  It came at a time when her study habits were forming and her classes there created a solid platform for the rest of her life.”

I asked Kathy what she planned to do when she left Martha’s—travel, row with her Rowing Club 4-5 days a week, continue the book club, read and indulge her passion in theatre arts.  “I don’t know if I ever went to classes when I was in college ,” she admitted, “I was always in the theatre.” Or singing—Kathy loves to sing!  I’ll bet there will be a lot of music and fun in their future!

3.   Beach Time Realty

When I moved to Balboa Island in 1990, Dottie and her son Terry Lewis owned Beach Time Realty.  They had started Beach Time in 1980 and had multiple rentals on Balboa Island, I had a cleaning service - we were a match made in heaven!  I cleaned their units for many summers and in between tenants. At that time there were a lot of winter rentals to students - so between summer and winter was a big clean-up!   I really enjoyed the work and the people!

Glenn, Dottie's husband, was the handyman who did all the repairs on their properties.  He was always running around between properties on his golf cart with tools and a ladder.  And always smiling!

Eventually Dottie retired and her daughter Anne and Anne's husband Bob inherited the business.  
We will miss Beach Time - but the landmark clock where their office was will always be there to remind us of these wonderful people - and to tell us what time it is!

4.  Even Sisters

 A fabulous independent, creative store - has been there for more years than I have.  Started by sisters Helen and Katie - born in the 'Even' years.  The cow was an Island favorite - always dressed for the season!   And marching along in our yearly parade in June!
They are mooooving their store online - but the bricks and mortar will be gone by January 11, 2015!!

4. Candlessence
Overhead or Grandkids….. ??
In the end it was an easy decision for us :)   Neil and I will be closing our Balboa Island store after the holiday season this year and moving closer to the family in San Diego County where it all started.
Don’t fret though, as our candles will still be available on Balboa Island at Laura Matthews Designs at 322 Marine Ave. We will keep the island stocked with all your favorites and seasonal choices as well as continue to take custom orders on the website.
Our candles will also be available for shipment on the website or by phone so feel free to call us. You will also still be able to see what candles are coming out of the molds, and undoubtedly some photos and videos of Oliver on our facebook page, so if you haven’t already, follow us to stay connected at
We will also be branching out to expand our corporate gift, custom labeling and wholesale services, so if you know a business that would benefit, please refer them to our website at  
Wishing you and yours the very best !
Neil, Stacey and Oliver

5.  Sculptures of Balboa - Great Gift Items - Inexpensive Creative, Souvenirs that represented the Island as it has been - not as it is becoming!  
And though the items were inexpensive - they were not 'cheap'! Something we don't find very often!

Other Stores - not so Long Term - That disappeared recently - Ornade, 5Cs

AND A FINAL SAD FAREWELL TO SHANGHAI PINE GARDEN - Gone but not forgotten are your individual pots of tea, your crunchy tid-bits with awesome sauce and your reasonable prices.  
None to be found at the new incarnation!!