There is more sunshine to go around on the Mid-Shore as Sunnyside, a unique shop in Cambridge that features clothing, shoes, jewelry, gifts and home goods, has opened its second location at 214A South Talbot Street in St. Michaels, across from Christ Church.
Sunnyside has been in Cambridge for 13 ½ years. It was in two smaller locations on Poplar Street before moving to its current location at 500 Poplar Street, about 12 years ago. During those years, the block has slowly transformed, and Sunnyside now has a number of bustling retail shops and restaurants nearby, with a handful more in the pipeline. The name of the shop came from owner Heidi Griebel’s love of the Sunshine House – a popular surf shop in Ocean City when she was a kid, that was known for its bright yellow exterior. Her Cambridge shop is similarly known for its colorful exterior, including a beautiful, colorful mosaic created by local artist Jen Wagner. The shop’s recent expansion to 214 A South Talbot Street in St. Michaels is what Heidi refers to as a “coming home” of sorts.
Heidi grew up on the Magothy River, and moved to St. Michaels as a teen, after high school. She recalls, “I grew up shopping the boutiques along Talbot Street in St. Michaels, and that inspired my decision to open a shop there. I wanted to capture some of the shopping experience that I had had there.”
After graduating from the University of Maryland, during which time she spent two years in the West Indies, Heidi began travelling the world. She took her sailboard to Southern California for a year and then moved to Japan where she taught English for a time. While living in Australia, she worked on a feature film about the America’s Cup yacht race. In her travels, she began learning about fair trade products – something that is now heavily featured in both of her shops. Heidi eventually landed in Baltimore, where she worked in marketing and advertising and made beach glass jewelry and wind chimes, long before they were the rage.
Heidi recalls during those years that she enjoyed windsurfing on weekends on the Shore and collecting beach glass at Claiborne Beach to make her jewelry. She states, “I hated leaving the Eastern Shore and going back to the city on Monday mornings. Eventually, I knew I needed to be back in the country where I could garden and relax.” She adds, “I also realized that Cambridge needed something like my shop downtown. I liked the West End of Cambridge immediately as it remined me of Eastport in Annapolis, where I had spent lots of time.”
Heidi decided to buy a house in Cambridge in 2003. But life didn’t go quite as planned and, in her first year of business, she found herself the overnight guardian of her sister’s two-year-old son following her sister’s early passing. Now 14, her son, Eli, has become the love of her life. He helps Heidi with her business planning, weighing in on decisions like the one she made to add an additional shop in St. Michaels late last year.
The year after Heidi bought her house in Cambridge, she opened Sunnyside at its first location on Poplar Street. She comments, “I had never worked a day in retail, but I knew jewelry because I had made and sold my own designs to other shops for years. My globe-trotting adventures had exposed me to a lot of cool boutique concepts. I have always been green-minded, and wanted to promote recycled and upcycled things in my shop. I also wanted to sell only goods that I was passionate about.”
Early on, a friend told Heidi that her Cambridge shop was going to become a destination. She wasn’t sure at the time what that meant, but now sees that the projection has come true, with a loyal following that has grown steadily. Sunnyside features clothing, shoes, jewelry, gifts and home goods – most are either American made, fair trade or environmentally friendly items. Heidi states, “My preference is to carry goods that give back in some way. Since the recession that began in 2008, people seem to pay more attention to where their money is going, and who or what is benefitting from their purchase.”
Sunnyside also supports local artists and local authors. Heidi believes in selling goods produced with integrity, and seeks them out when purchasing her stock. A large portion of Sunnyside’s clothing lines are American made, mostly produced in the California-based garment industry. Among the American clothing lines the shop carries are Cut Loose, Fresh Produce, Sun Moda and Salaam. Heidi adds, “In addition to our apparel, Sunnyside is also known for our accessories: scarves, purses and, of course, jewelry.”
An important aspect of her business is also the relationships she has with the people she buys from – whether they are local or fair trade businesses, she values the people from whom she buys.
Sunnyside also sells kids’ clothing, toys and books, as well as letterpress greeting cards, which continue to be popular with the shop’s patrons. Heidi states, “People rarely leave without buying something, and often don’t get out the door after paying, before finding something else they can’t leave without.”
The shop in St. Michaels has a variation on the stock at the Cambridge store. Heidi comments, “I want the locals who shop with me in Cambridge to also shop with me in St. Michaels, and vice versa. Each location offers something unique.”
Both shop locations in Cambridge and St. Michaels are open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For further information, visit sunnysideshop.com or visit Sunnyside on Facebook or call 410-901-9009.
Photographs courtesy of Melissa Grimes-Guy.