On the Bay Customs feels like a boutique you’d find on a boardwalk in Florida. It’s full of hand-carved anchors, souvenir mugs and nautical T-shirts. But instead of “Sunshine State,” you’ll find “New Baltimore” stamped all over these items.
Owner Cher Bell opened the shop last year. While searching for a home on the water, she fell in love with New Baltimore. After owning a successful string of businesses, including floral design and a motorcycle shop, Bell decided to open On the Bay Customs on Washington Street in the city’s downtown. She said she is excited to be part of New Baltimore’s evolution into a tourist destination.
“I truly believe this could be the next Traverse City,” said Bell. With outdoor seating, a walkable downtown and Lake St. Clair on the horizon, the area certainly has a tourist vibe – just like her shop.
From nautical home décor and garden trinkets to clothing, jewelry and purses, On the Bay Customs carries a diverse selection of merchandise. They offer lots of products to flaunt your hometown pride including Pure Michigan cups, Great Lakes baseball hats and New Baltimore tote bags. There is a T-shirt print room where Bell’s custom graphic designs can be printed onto a shirt of your choosing right while you shop.
Many items they carry are made by local artists, such as carved ship wheels, stenciled stools, hand-painted signs, tables, bookshelves and hand-drawn cards. These artists are in their 80s and 90s, and Bell says she is happy to give them a creative outlet.
Continually offering new products, the shop recently opened a café to sell cold drinks and desserts to beachgoers headed to Walter and Mary Burke Park. The café’s treats can also be enjoyed in the shop’s new courtyard, which made its debut during the Bay-Rama Fishfly Festival.
I asked Bell why she thought On the Bay Customs was doing so well in their first year.
“The key to success is to make it a party,” said Bell.
To join in on the party, visit On the Bay Customs at 51034 Washington Street in New Baltimore. Their summer hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Visit their website at www.OnTheBayCustoms.com for more information.
Caitlin Gerds-Habermas works for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development, often providing content for the Make Macomb Your Home website.