Feature: Divin' Off the Dock Boutique
By Beth Rilee Kelley, Co-Owner
A few months ago, I was cleaning out some old files and found my very first one for Divin’ Off the Dock, from the summer of 2008. It brought back so many memories of how our small business got started.
My mom had just retired from her job at Riverside Hospital where she managed two successful gift shops. After only two months, she decided to chase her dream of opening and running her own shop. I remember trying to talk her out of it because we were in the middle of a recession but she wouldn’t budge. And then, she successfully talked her two sisters and me into joining the team. My mom has always been persuasive. Three of us had full-time jobs at the time but we locked arms and went for it.
After scouring the town for properties, we bought our charming building at 417 6th Street in downtown West Point and started the work needed to get it ready for business. We loved the quaint neighborhood and the building itself has a rich history. It has served as a library, a parks and rec department, a police station, and the original West Point Town Hall!
On March 28, 2009, our coastal boutique opened for business and here we are—two recessions, a global pandemic, and 14 years later—still going strong and growing in ways we never could have imagined.
Some highlights and learnings for us over the years…
- Customers come from all across our beautiful state and we enjoy many out-of-state visitors as well.
- We love that we’re a destination business. A group of friends will pile into a van and spend their afternoon shopping at Divin’ Off the Dock!
- West Point’s thriving downtown has been such a bonus for all small businesses here, ours included. We are so grateful to everyone who has helped revive our downtown experience.
- We’ve learned to be great listeners. When we first opened, we were a gift shop. When our customers starting asking for apparel, we brought in apparel. Now we have a robust mix of gifts, home décor, apparel, and accessories.
- We’ve expanded our product offering to include making gift baskets/bags. And we just recently completed an order for a wedding! Who knew?!
- We make it a priority to give back to the communities we serve through our annual holiday food drive, our fashion show, clothing donations to women in need, and partnering with many other charitable groups.
- Finally, and we talk a lot about this one: We will always strive to be the happy place where customers can escape the daily grind for a bit and just be. And we will continue to work hard to find ways to enrich that shopping experience in any way we can.
We love what we do and are so grateful to all the folks who have helped us along the way. Thank you so much. We couldn’t do this without you.
And you may wonder where we came up with the name Divin’ Off the Dock?
It’s a nod to our leap of faith all those years ago, our river heritage, and a favorite summertime activity my brother and I enjoyed together as kids.
It was our happy place.