If you’ve driven by the cute little ’60s-era motel on Pacific Coast Highway cleverly converted to a quaint little retail collective called The Cove, and are wondering what is happening at this new, hip addition to Mariners Mile, I suggest you stop in. You’re in for a real treat!
Located on the inland side of Pacific Coast Highway, not far from Dover Drive to the east and the Balboa Bay Club to the west, The Cove is home to a creative compilation of retail boutiques and offices. Most spaces are no larger than 200 square feet, but they’re packed to the gills with originality, quality and value.
Newport Beach real estate broker and investor Russ Fluter purchased the property, along with five other adjacent buildings along PCH, in March. With the help of architect Lee Stearns, Fluter chose to maintain the original mid-century vibe of the former motel, while bringing the building up to code and giving it a vibrant new look.
The first boutique opened in September and the rest is history. The building has been rented to capacity, which gives me that warm fuzzy feeling I get when capitalism and entrepreneurial guts find a sweet spot.
I had the pleasure of meeting The Cove store creators and owners, a lovely group of 30- and 40-something women, most of whom have young families. They opened up at The Cove for a variety of reasons, but from what I gathered they were basically looking to branch out, or reinvent their careers in a challenging economy in an affordable and creative way, while maintaining the flexibility necessary to meet the demands of kids and clients.
As I strolled through the property, browsing each boutique was like opening little presents along the way. At each shop I would think “how clever,” or “how original!” And what is really impressive is each boutique’s use of space. Clean, stylish, with unique, quality offerings that I found were reasonably priced, as well.
And there’s something for everyone. The Cove includes Blend, a women’s clothing store; Clarity RX, a skin wellness boutique; The Hat Loft which features hats, caps and fine millinery; Laura Matthews Design, designer handbags, belts and accessories; Little Relics, an antique and found objects showroom; Little Stylings, a children’s couture consignment store; MerMade Designs with a selection of sea-inspired home décor and gifts; Posey Couture featuring all things bling, including fun costume jewelry and accessories; and Studio Fringe, an interior design and home furnishings studio.
One of my personal shopping policies is to patronize these types of local businesses, in large part because I feel they contribute to the unique fabric of our community and, in this case in particular, bring energy to an area of Newport that has been flagging for some time now. What was fast becoming a magnet for indigents has been pleasantly transformed.
The first Thursday of each month, The Cove hosts a friendly wine and cheese open house from 6 to 9 p.m. Welcoming and easy-going, with parking steps from the boutiques, The Cove is a welcome addition to Newport Beach’s Mariners Mile.
Newport Beach resident Lynn Selich is the society editor of the Newport Beach Independent and associate publisher of Newport Beach magazine.