Island Stylin’

New Surf City Boutique Society Beach Has a Look for Every Body

By SANDRA WEYANT | Jul 17, 2019
Photo by: Lexi Schnell

The north end of Long Beach Island just got more fashionable with the grand opening of Society Beach, the ultimate his-and-hers shopping destination. Society Beach, an extension of brother and sister stores Society Men and Society Femme located in Westwood, officially opened its doors June 29, at 2106 Long Beach Blvd., Surf City. After just a few short weeks in business, owner MaryAlice Farella has received an overwhelmingly positive response from locals, vacationers and surrounding businesses.

“I love my neighbors, and I have a really good core up here. I believe in supporting small businesses, so it’s really nice to see them supporting us, too,” Farella said.

Farella is a lifelong Surf City girl whose fondest childhood memories include spending summers on the beach with her family. Her grandparents retired in the area, and her parents bought a house on LBI when she was 4 years old, and it’s the “only beach I ever went to.”

“I always thought there needed to be some more shopping on the north end,” Farella said. “This store is not only a shopping destination for the entire Island, but we cover fashion for both men and women of all ages. I believe in high-quality clothing and providing a mix of products that nobody else has.”

The luxe beach boutique features premium denim, clothing, lingerie, swimwear, jewelry, shoes and accessories for all ages and body types.

“I kind of mixed what I carry in my two stores up north and tweaked it for a more beach atmosphere, depending on what the brands had to offer and what people like to wear on the Island. It’s a lot of really easy, fun clothing,” Farella said. “We cater to all sizes. A woman who wears a double zero could walk in here and find something, and so can a man who wears a double-extra-large.”

At 6-foot-1 with a curvy-meets-athletic shape, Farella had a difficult time finding appropriate and well-fitted clothes when she was younger. Her mother took her to private stores with high-quality, custom designs.

“We built relationships with the sales people to find what we were looking for. My mom and I would leave a store if someone told us something looked good when it didn’t. I find myself telling my clients things like ‘We can do better’ because I want to be fully honest with them, which is rare for a lot of retail stores. People want to look and feel good, and that’s really important to me. With younger clients, we want to build their self-esteem in today’s crazy world,” Farella said.

Society Beach is a tribute to her late mother, who passed away two years ago due to metastatic breast cancer. She credits her sense of style and endless love of fashion to her mom.

“As soon as school let out, I would come down here, and I wouldn’t leave until Labor Day. This was always our family happy place. My mom would have loved this store. It’s pretty, it’s fun and friendly, and there is a really great mix of brands here,” she said.

In addition to learning everything she knows from her mother, Farella has an extensive retail background and has managed several boutiques. She dresses clients in between managing her stores, and has worked at such places on the Island as Benetton and Up From the Deep in Beach Haven. In her spare time to break free from the world of retail, she enjoys teaching Jet-skiing lessons.

Society Beach carries all different types of apparel, but what makes the products special is the sourcing. Farella merchandises her stores with unique, well-made clothing from a variety of American brands and some from Italy and France.

“It’s stuff that you’re definitely not going to find at a department store. Some of it you won’t even find online because they are custom designs,” she said. “I like to have a relationship with all of the brands that I carry; some brands I have worked with for almost 20 years. It is really just about shopping local and developing that relationship with the customer.”

From casual tees and hoodies to more formal attire like button-down shirts and dresses, Society Beach has everything for a night out on the town, a stroll on the beach and even special events like bachelor parties and rehearsal dinners.

Farella’s top-selling garments are her vintage college and retro T-shirts made from amazingly soft cotton that “only gets better with time.” Some of her newest items include fine cashmere sweaters with such fun sayings on them as “Endless Summer” and “Locals Only,” plus cotton hoodies with the word “lifeguard” printed on them.

“I have custom LBI gear made from a friend from London. She tie dyes white sweatshirts and hand-stencils the different towns: Surf City, Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Island, whatever you want,” Farella said. “It’s special because it’s not mass-produced, and each one is a little different. For men, she did these really cool LBI shirts on a Hartford T-shirt.”

Aside from clothing, Society Beach boasts a wide assortment of accessories to add the finishing touches to any outfit. Farella stocks the store with stylish straw hats and baseball caps, custom-made jewelry, sunglasses, beach bags, beach towels and blankets, and more. She even has a perfume bar and organic sun products. When it comes to merchandising her stores, Farella is passionate about the process and determined to present only the finest items.

“I haven’t spent a full summer on LBI in over 20 years, so to be back here is a total dream come true. I love what I do. It is my heart. I get to walk to work on the Island that I love every day. I don’t see myself ever being anywhere else. I hope everyone loves Society Beach as much as I love Long Beach Island,” Farella said.

Shop selected items online at societybeachlbi.com, but be sure to check out everything Society Beach has to offer in-store.

— Sandra Weyant

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