OCEAN CITY – Tucked into a corner of a shopping center in Fenwick Island lies a piece of bridal history, the store Lennox East Beach Bride, and as it begins to bloom at the beach they are need of a helpful hand.
Marlene Lennox opened Beach Bride in Fenwick in August of 2007. Lennox also owns the oldest bridal store in Maryland, Lennox East.
Lennox East is located near Cumberland and was founded in 1978 by Lennox and her late husband, Herman Herk Lennox.
“My husband was very entrepreneurial and always wanted a business … and we finally figured out we wanted to move to the beach, that was our goal and that is why it is called Lennox East. Lennox was for the family and East was for the Eastern Shore,” Lennox said. “I was blessed with a very good husband and a very good family, and we wanted the store to be a reflection of that. We accomplished that a long time back.”
Lennox East started out in formal clothing retail but as the business grew the family found where it belonged within the industry.
“We graduated to formal wear and bridal a few years later,” Lennox said. “We went from small weddings to bigger weddings and found out that is where our niche was.”
Lennox has vacationed in the Fenwick area her entire life, visiting her in-laws who owned near-by property. It wasn’t until Lennox and friend noticed a “For Rent” sign in the store’s window did a bridal shop at the beach become a reality.
“It was something that Herk and I always wanted to do,” Lennox said. “I never planned it after he passed away, I never had any intentions of opening the store but I feel there is a tremendous need here.”
Beach Bride carries all major manufacturers all at guaranteed lowest prices for full-service sale or rental. Merchandise includes bridal gowns, mother of the bride, bridesmaids, and flower girl dresses, as well as tuxedos, pageant gowns, and prom and homecoming dresses, plus all the needed accessories.
Lennox maintains she has two of the best seamstresses in the area on stand-by for alternations located in Millsboro and West Ocean City.
Beach Bride’s selection includes top designers, such as Maggie Sattero, Mary’s, Mori Lee, Venus, Casablanca, Private Collection and many more.
Lennox explained that she sells everything at the lowest guaranteed price.
“I do not inflate the price,” she said. “I give you the guaranteed manufacturer’s retail price … if a dress is manufactured to sell for $500, than that is exactly what I sell it for. Herk always said ‘if we are lucky enough to get to heaven the lord isn’t going to say, how many dresses did you sell down there?’ It is a matter of honesty and trust and if you have that whether it is a relationship or business, the truth wins, and I think that is why we survived in business for 34 years.”
Although Beach Bride is building a strong base, Lennox has found herself at a crossroads. Due to health concerns within the business, she is looking for someone to take under her wings.
Lennox is a two-time cancer survivor and as she puts it “well beyond the age of retirement” and her trusted business partner who came to her side when her husband passed away is now dealing with serious health issues of her own.
As managers of the store have come and gone, Lennox and her business partner frequently travel back and forth from Allegany County to keep it open.
“My biggest question here is the future of the store … it is a great career for someone if you are suited for the business but you have to care about people,” Lennox said. “I don’t want to have to turn over the business … life is forcing me to make a decision.”
When it comes to weddings, Lennox said it isn’t about the glitz and the glamour, it’s about the commitment.
“I firmly believe that love is God’s gift to all of us,” she said. “I don’t care how you want to break it down, it’s true, and marriage is his idea … it is a gift and if you don’t follow the rules, than you won’t have the blessings … it is truly wonderful when it’s right.”
Beach Bride is currently open Tuesday through Friday noon-6 p.m., and Saturdays 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Call 302-541-0277 to confirm store hours or make an appointment.