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January 2024 Newsletter

Updated: Jan 2



Happy New Year from RBMS!


The board, committee chairs, and staff of Rehoboth Beach Main Street wish our members, volunteers, and subscribers a Happy New Year! In this issue we highlight RBMS’ accomplishments of 2023 and share a look-forward to 2024.


In 2023 we ended the year with 161 business members: Two Blue Partners, 10 Yellow Partners, 38 Green Partners, and 111 Basic Members. We have 19 Individual Members/Donors, 17 at the $100-or-more level, as well as several businesses that donated to RBMS. Thank you to all our members and donors! RBMS is grateful for the generosity shown by the Members/Friends/Donors who support our many activities that promote the Rehoboth Beach Experience.


RBMS also could not have accomplished all that we do without our volunteers—7,200+ volunteer hours in 2023! These individuals serve on committees, create and maintain the downtown flora as part of the Rehoboth in Bloom group, serve as Ambassadors to our business members, and volunteer as ticket-takers and other duties at our many events.


We published 12 issues of the RBMS Newsletter, January through December. The newsletter issues included:

• Business Showcases featuring 49 members;

• 267 mentions of members in other sections of the newsletter, including promotions of members’ upcoming events and specials; and

• 133 Congrats and Thanks to new and renewal members.


Our newsletter subscriber group grew from 1,346 at the start of 2023 to 1,535 in December. Our Open rate is typically more than 60%, which is about 20 points higher than the industry average. Thank you to our readers—and special thanks to our regular and guest reporters!


The RBMS Website continues to inform residents, businesses, and visitors regarding all that Rehoboth Beach has to offer. In 2022 we added a Carousel to the Home Page that features RBMS Blue and Yellow Partner members, listed all businesses in the Business Directory, added a page that identifies the membership level of all RBMS business members, and added pop-ups to promote our Blue Partner members. In 2023 we continued those features and added an Opportunities page to assist our members with summer hiring and an Off-Season Specials page. In December we added a Save-the-Date page, which features all events happening in the City of Rehoboth Beach. We continue to maintain the Events page to promote activities planned or supported by RBMS and our members.



Social Media was hopping, with more than 200 business-member posts on Facebook and Instagram from January through December! Facebook and Instagram Reach is highest in the summer: We had more than 74,000 unique views monthly last summer on Facebook, with 10,000 followers. We have 4,000 followers on Instagram.

A new initiative in 2023: We enhanced our promotions of Rehoboth Beach as a destination and the RBMS business members via Google Ads. We are running three paid ads in cities from which many of our tourists come—Washington DC, Baltimore, New York City, and Philadelphia.

Current and former members of RBMS were sent a Member Survey in April. The survey is part of our effort to understand downtown business operations, as well as ensure that RBMS is providing the right benefits to our members and offering the types of activities that will help to keep Rehoboth Beach a real hometown and a thriving resort community.


We thank the RBMS members who completed the survey. Survey take-aways include:

• Most responses were from retail businesses (53.57%), followed by restaurants (39.29%).

• Most respondents were established businesses. 50% had been in business more than 10 years, 25% had been in business between 5 and 10 years.

• The greatest business successes and strengths identified were customer-focused: customer satisfaction and engagement (85.71%), retaining existing customers (75%), and attracting new customers.

• The biggest challenges were getting staffing (70.37%) and issues related to rising costs (supply, labor, and inflation).

• The top business issues identified were transportation/parking for staff (75%) and staffing itself (71.43%).

• Changes that businesses have made to address challenges: reducing operating hours (42.31%) and reducing the number of employees (full time, part time, and seasonal).


The RBMS board and staff will continue to address the issues raised by members who responded to the survey.


We continued to support the Built Story mobile app we created in 2022: Rehoboth Beach Then and Now. With this app, visitors and residents can take a self-guided walking tour, exploring downtown Rehoboth Beach and learning about the 19th century religious summer camp, how the fires and storms shaped the community, the transformative impact of the

railroad, and the illustrious citizens who made Rehoboth Beach what it is today. The 15-stop tour of downtown focuses on how the city evolved from its 19th century roots as a rural community, the arrival of the summer religious camp in the 1870s, the arrival of the railroad, and the “battles” between the “saints and sinners” that influenced the later development of the community. The app is available from either Android or iPhone app stores for free; the Then and Now program has a fee of $10.00.



RBMS awarded three Sign & Awning Grants in 2023. Recipients were Beaches—The Green Truck Shop, Freddie’s Beach Bar, and Surf & Skate.



In the sections that follow, we’d like to share highlights of the events sponsored, co-sponsored, and collaborated/participated in by RBMS in 2023. These events included those that follow.



The 2023 Rehoboth Beach Gumbo Crawl was held on Saturday, April 29, co-hosted by the Purple Parrot Grill and RBMS.

Fourteen area restaurants participated in this year’s event: Above the Dunes, Aqua, Blackwall Hitch, Café Azafrán, Cooter Brown’s, Dos Locos, Freddie’s Beach Bar, Mariachi Restaurant, Purple Parrot, Rehoboth Ale House, Rigby’s Bar & Grill, The Pines, Tiki Jac’s Street Eats & Brews, and Zogg’s.

RBMS and the Purple Parrot Grill congratulated the winners of the 2023 Gumbo Crawl! Trophies were handed out on Wednesday, May 3, at the Purple Parrot Grill! And the winners are...

First place, Mariachi

Runner-up, Above the Dunes

2nd runner up, Tiki Jac's



The Second Annual Oldies Dance, held on Friday, May 19, was a fun, successful fundraiser for Rehoboth in Bloom. The venue was the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. Music was provided by the awesome DJ, Skye Brady. The dance is the annual major fundraising event for the fabulous work Bloom does to make downtown a very special and picturesque place to visit.



The 2023 Margarita Crawl was held on June 3. RBMS thanks Adam at Rehoboth Ale House for trusting us with this event—and we worked hard to get everything set up to ensure a successful, fun Crawl!


This year’s Margarita Crawl was sponsored by Dano’s Dangerous Tequila. We were thrilled to be pairing with this great company! In addition to Dano’s tequila margaritas, participating restaurants were also asked to prepare Mock Margaritas for Crawl-goers who would prefer a non-alcoholic version.


Participating restaurants were: Above the Dunes, Aqua Bar & Grill, Arena’s Deli, Blackwall at the Beach, Blue Moon, Café Azafrán, Chesapeake & Maine, Dos Locos, Freddie’s Beach Bar, Kiwi’s Tiki Hut and Kove, Mariachi Restaurant, Purple Parrot Grill, Rehoboth Ale House, Somewhere Rehoboth, and Victoria’s Restaurant.

An award ceremony was held at the Rehoboth Ale House on June 7. Awardees were:

• Best Margarita: Blue Moon

• Best Mocktail: Chesapeake and Maine

• Most Creative Margarita and 2nd Place for Best Margarita: Somewhere Rehoboth

• 3rd Place, Best Margarita: Mariachi Restaurant

Congratulations to the winners! And, Congratulations to us! In December Southern Delaware Tourism awarded Rehoboth Beach Main Street with the Best New Event Award for the Margarita Crawl (pictured here)!




The RBMS Cottage and Town Awards celebrate the charm, beauty, and history of Rehoboth Beach. RBMS held the competition in the spring and summer, and the 2023 Awards were announced in August. The awardees received their plaques and honorable mention certificates at a ceremony at The Bellmoor Inn and Spa on Sunday, September 24.


The 2023 Cottage and Town Award recipients are:

• Residential New Construction: to Jim and Karen Hutchison for their home at 127 Rodney Street. Honorable mention: 121 Rodney Street.

• Residential Renovation: James and Amy Keating for the renovation to their home at 30 Park Avenue. Honorable mentions: 5 Pennsylvania Avenue and 343 Laurel Street.

• Landscape Design: The City of Rehoboth for the Canalside Garden.

• Large-Scale Commercial Renovation: Coast Rehoboth Beach, Tapestry Collection by Hilton for its transformation of the former Sandcastle Hotel located at 123 Second Street.

• Small-Scale Commercial Renovation project to Downtown Blues for its conversion of the former Nicola’s Pizza restaurant at 8 North 1st Street. Honorable mentions: Bodhi Kitchen and Tiki Jac’s Street Eats & Brews.


Sponsors for the Cottage and Town Awards are RBMS Organization Committee Chair Rick Perry and Board Member Sandra Skidmore. Thank you, Rick and Sandra!




The first annual Mrs. Roper Romp in Rehoboth Beach took place on Saturday, September 23. The “romp” is a costumed bar crawl based on Mrs. Helen Roper, a character on the wildly popular 1970s TV show, “Three’s Company.” Mrs. Roper was a wise-cracking, caftan-wearing, love-deprived wife of landlord Stanley Roper. The romp began in 2013 as a “Million Mrs. Roper March” of men and women in caftans and curly red wigs during a New Orleans parade. Today, there are countless Mrs. Roper Romp/Bar Crawl groups all over the world!


RBMS supported the work of the organizers, assisting with planning and promoting the event and staffing the donation boxes at the venues. Local bars and restaurants participated by offering food and drink specials to those in costume, as well as other surprises. Participating venues included Above the Dunes, Blackwall Hitch, Blue Moon, Boutique W, Freddie’s, Jam, Kiwi’s Tiki Hut, Purple Parrot Grill, Rehoboth Ale House, Rigby’s, Tiki Jac’s, and Zogg’s.


Donation boxes were available at each location. This year, the event raised funds for Rehoboth Beach Main Street and West Side New Beginnings.


Plans are underway for next year’s Mrs. Roper Romp in Rehoboth Beach on September 21, 2024!




Small Business Saturday Proclamation: The City of Rehoboth Beach Board of Commissioners asked RBMS Executive Director Dan Slagle to represent Rehoboth Beach’s small businesses and accept a proclamation on the business’ behalf at the Commissioners’ November 17 meeting. The proclamation, Small Business Saturday, notes that there are 33.2 million small businesses in the US, and small business owners have said that it would be most useful to their business to have their “regulars” return and make purchases. The City of Rehoboth Beach supports our local businesses that create jobs, boost our local economy, and preserve our communities.

Small Business Saturday was held on November 25. RBMS applauds the small businesses of downtown Rehoboth Beach and thanks our residents and visitors who shopped locally on November 25 and throughout the year.




The annual Rehoboth Beach Main Street Community Unity Dinner was held on Sunday, December 3, at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. Guests enjoyed a delicious pasta dinner, generously provided by the Big Fish Group and many other downtown restaurants. The event included an ice cream bar, as well, and entertainment by the Cape Jazz Band and Nutcracker Ballerinas! Of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus were there, too!


A highlight of the evening: We honored two Rehoboth Beach leaders. RBMS recognized Carol Everhart as this year’s Citizen of the Year. We were thrilled to honor Carol for her 30+ years of serving downtown Rehoboth Beach. The 2023 RBMS Champion is Jenny Sugrue Burton. We recognized Jenny for her dedication to RBMS. We are so thankful for these two women who make a difference.



And—a ‘first’ for the Community Unity Dinner. A warm congratulations to Carolyn Toggas, winner of the Rehoboth Beach Main Street e-bike raffle!




The 2023 Rehoboth Beach Hometown Christmas Parade was presented by the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company on December 4. The RBVFC goal was to make the 2023 Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company Hometown Christmas Parade the largest we’ve ever had. RBMS again had a contingent in the parade.




The Downtown Rehoboth Beach Holiday Stroll was held on Sunday, December 10. Oh, the weather outside was frightful....but that didn't stop Santa, Mrs. Claus, and an intrepid band of Rehoboth Beach Main Street volunteers from spreading cheer in Downtown Rehoboth. The rain couldn't dampen their holiday spirits as they visited local small businesses and shared the joy of the holiday season. Our Hometown for the Holidays featured Santa and Mrs. Claus walking around downtown, Carolers singing tunes of the season, and several photo opportunity locations for pictures. Of course, the RBMS snowmen were walking around town, too!



Rehoboth Beach Main Street and the Rehoboth Beach Homeowners’ Association co-host the third annual Wreaths Across America event on Saturday, December 16, at Epworth Cemetery on Henlopen Avenue near Grove Park in Rehoboth Beach. Volunteers laid wreaths at the tombstones of veterans who were buried at Epworth Cemetery.


RBMS and the Rehoboth Beach Homeowners Association acknowledge the sponsors and partners for Wreaths Across America: Community Bank, Epworth Church, the City of Rehoboth Beach, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7447, American Legion Post 5, Cape Henlopen JROTC, and all other donors and volunteers for making this annual event a success!

Following the ceremony, RBMS hosted lunch at the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company.




Finally, Rehoboth in Bloom (RiB) volunteers were busy throughout the year, beautifying downtown Rehoboth Beach with gorgeous planter displays and gardens. This is the fifth year for RiB’s work, and of the more-than-70 volunteers, 18 have been volunteering for all 5 years.


Work began on the creation of a new Canalside Garden on the western side of the Rehoboth Beach Museum in November 2022 and was completed in 2023. RiB volunteers maintained the 103 planters and several gardens in downtown Rehoboth Beach. At the end of October the summer annuals were removed, and winter pansies and dusty miller replaced them. 849 pots of flowers have been ordered from Peppers: Think spring!!


2023 was a busy year! And 2024 promises to be just as busy! Our plans for 2024 include:

• It’s a Bloomin’ Dance Party (formerly known as the Oldies Dance) on March 15;

• Gumbo Crawl, co-hosted with the Purple Parrot Grill, on March 30;

• RBMS Presents “Runway 2024”: A fashion weekend starting on April 18, topped off with our Staged Theatrical-Style Fashion Show with a Lavish Cocktail Reception on April 21;

• Award-winning Margarita Crawl on June 1;

• Cottage & Town Awards in the Spring-Summer;

• Holiday Stroll on December 7, and

• Community Unity Dinner on December 8.


RBMS will host a convening of Delaware’s Main Street programs in Rehoboth Beach on January 11. They day will include meeting at the Rehoboth Beach Museum, a visit to the RBMS office and viewing of the Rehoboth Beach diorama, a tour of Rehoboth Beach via the Jolly Trolley, and lunch at RBMS member Above the Dunes.

RBMS will again co-host the annual Wreaths Across America wreath-laying at the Epworth Church Cemetery in December. We’ll also participate in the Hometown Christmas Parade. And, we’ll again provide support to the planners of the Mrs. Roper Romp, to be held on September 21.


RBMS’ Executive Director Dan Slagle has been selected to represent Rehoboth Beach Main Street at the National Main Street conference in Birmingham, Alabama, May 6–8, along with Lisa Popovich, Executive Director, Main Street Steamboat, Colorado. Dan and Lisa will present a session on "Economic Vitality and Seasonal Economies" at the conference. Dan says, “I’m honored to represent not only our downtown Rehoboth Beach, but the entire state of Delaware Main Streets.” RBMS thanks board members Jerry Filbin and Sandra Skidmore for assisting Dan with developing the proposal for the session.


Check out the 2024 issues of the RBMS Newsletter, the RBMS Website, and our Facebook and Instagram posts for information about the events we’ll convene in Rehoboth Beach!


Save the Date—Upcoming January Events

For full descriptions of the events listed below, go to the Save-the-Date page on the RBMS Website: Save The Date | Home | Rehoboth Beach Main Street (downtownrb.com).


Boardwalk Stroll

8:30am

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1/2, 1/04, 1/9, 1/11, 1/16, 1/18, 1/23, 1/25, & 1/30

End of Rehoboth Avenue


Cash Bingo

Cape Henlopen Senior Center

Wednesday, 1/3, Doors open at 11:30 am, games begin at 1:00pm.

11 Christian Street


9th Rehoboth Art League Regional Juried Photograph Exhibition

Friday, 1/5, thru Sunday, 2/4, 4pm

Corkran Gallery

12 Dodds Lane

Additional January RAL Exhibitions:

To the Water’s Edge and Back, Edward Loper, Jr., Artist

Friday, 1/5, through Sunday, 3/10

Tubbs Gallery

The Lifted Veil – Photography by Phyllis Berger

Friday, 1/5, thru Sunday, 2/4

Ventures Gallery

Rehoboth Beach History Lecture

Topic: “History of South Rehoboth Beach Country Club”

Thursday, 1/11, 7:15pm

Sussex Room at the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel


The Return of Fay Jacobs at The Top of The Pines

Thursday, 1/11, 7:00pm (18 years and older)

56 Baltimore Avenue


GAY WOMEN OF REHOBOTH (GWOR): “WOMEN’S ART PROJECT”

A weekend gathering of diverse women and talent that weave together a tapestry of community and unity thru music, the arts and connection.

Friday to Saturday, 1/12–1/14,

Rehoboth Beach Convention Center

229 Rehoboth Avenue


CAMP Rehoboth – Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC (GMCW)

Cabaret: “SELFIES”

Saturday, 1/13, 5:00pm and 8:00pm

Elkins Archibald-Atrium

37 Baltimore Avenue


Clear Space Theatre Company presents Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap”

Friday, 1/19, 6:00pm; Saturday, 1/20, 7:00pm; and Sunday, 1/21, 2:00pm

Thursday, 1/25, 11:00am; Friday, 1/26, 7:00pm; Saturday, 1/27, 7:00pm; and Sunday, 1/28, 2:00pm

Friday, 2/2, 7:00pm; Saturday, 2/3, 7:00pm; and Sunday, 2/4, 2:00pm

20 Baltimore Avenue


Rehoboth Beach Library

226 Rehoboth Avenue

The Rehoboth Beach Library will be closed on Monday, January 1, 2024, and Tuesday, January 2, 2024.


Current and past issues of the newsletter are available on the RBMS Website at Newsletter | Home | Rehoboth Beach Main Street (downtownrb.com)


Editor’s Note

Thank you to our writers, and thanks to our RBMS members and other newsletter subscribers for your support of RBMS. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Peter Pizzolongo, Newsletter Editor, at PeterRBMS@gmail.com.


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