Alison Crowley had an epiphany late last year. The Manasquan resident always wanted to have her own store and, on a whim, decided the time was now. Crowley already had a full schedule; as a divorced mother of four—two girls and two boys, ages 15 to 20—she spent her days juggling baseball schedules and her job as an aide in an elementary school. “I wasn’t getting where I want to be,” she says. “So I asked myself, Do I totally shake things up and follow my dream and see where it takes me?” The answer was yes. The result is A Shore Style, the coastal decor and home-accessories boutique she opened in April.
A Shore Style is located a few miles west of the beach. Crowley’s merchandise includes pillows, throws and candles, but it’s the one-of-a-kind, hand-painted furnishings that make her shop unique. She scavenges old, tired pieces—dressers, chairs, hutches, bookshelves, you name it—and gives them new life. Crowley hand paints each item and often outfits them with fresh hardware or playful details. “I don’t consider myself artistic,” she says. “But I love tapping into my creative side. I just look at things and I picture something else in my head.” Crowley explains how she transformed a flea-market dining room hutch. “It was very dated and heavy,” she says, “but I started painting it, and the more I worked on it, the more elegant it looked.” After several coats of paint, she replaced the outdated hardware with rope pulls and voila, someone bought it. “It was the first piece I sold,” she says.
A Shore Style’s clientele is a mix. Some wander in looking for a new purchase, while others want to transform a piece they have or are looking for something specific. Crowley will hunt down that elusive piece and send cell phone pictures to clients. “It’s like an on-call design service,” she says.
A Shore Style also carries creative hostess gifts (Shore-inspired wine glasses, cutting boards, picture frames, even necklaces with nautical coordinates). Among Crowley’s top sellers are anything with the Brick zip code: “Lots of shops have other beach towns, but nothing ever says Brick,” Crowley says. “So that stuff is big.” Crowley will also customize anything.
Crowley is thrilled that she pursued her dream. “I 100 percent followed my gut,” she says. “Wherever my arrow leads me, I trust it. I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.”