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10 years in and still thriving

Heather Cressy Dalton has owned Seaside Allure for 10 years. Photo by Spenser Hasak

It’s all good things to talk about when it comes to Seaside Allure, a small boutique on Pleasant Street that offers trendy and personalized items.

While many businesses are closing their doors, Seaside Allure will celebrate its 10th anniversary in July in full bloom.

“I really try to study the trends in the marketplace, because there’s definitely demand for what’s currently trending,” said Heather Cressy Dalton, the owner of Seaside Allure.

For Dalton, staying up to date with trends and offering clients new items on the market are key for her business to thrive in this era.

“This spring, we’re seeing lots of colors. Lots of cheer. A lot of bright colors and probably coming off COVID, a couple of dark years,” she added. “There weren’t as many events the last few years and now that everybody’s back to going to parties, graduations, in-person weddings that had been postponed, we’re seeing a lot of special occasion dresses, a lot of festive attire.”

Dalton’s goal is for Seaside Allure to be a one-stop shop where customers can walk in and get a whole new outfit for an occasion. In addition, she wants customers to be able to complement that with a new handbag, jewelry, or footwear, while picking up a personalized gift at the same time.

To that end, Seaside Allure  offers clothing, jewelry, shoes, and personalized gift services made with a laser machine. Customers can get anything from cutting boards to padfolios and card holders.

“We’re just always reinventing ourselves, keeping up with the times,” said Dalton. “During COVID we had to really shift gears, we had to get all of our products online. We had to offer free delivery, we get private shopping, so just offering more avenues for people to buy goods at Seaside Allure.”

“We weren’t just always standing behind the register waiting for people to walk in the door,” she added. “Our website is very active now, we get a lot of online sales.”

Dalton has clients from all over the country thanks to Seaside Allure’s activity on social media platforms, direct email marketing, and website.

“About 20 percent of our sales are online. But up from zero a few years ago where we didn’t actually have a website you can purchase on, so it’s been a nice increase in business,” said Dalton.

“I don’t think we would be doing nearly as much volume if we didn’t invest the time in promoting new products as they arrive onto the different social media platforms,” she added.

Seaside Allure was previously owned by someone who had to move to Texas. When Dalton first walked into the store, she had no retail experience nor a business degree.

“This is such a crazy story, but I went down to just go see the store I hadn’t been in, it just opened,” Dalton said. “And when I walked in the door, I just knew, I just absolutely knew that I was going to buy it.”

At Seaside Allure you can find brands like Lilly Pulitzer, Sail to Sable, Southern Tide, and Tommy Bahama. Dalton said connecting with other small shops is important for growth, and she collaborates with local artisans like Marblehead Candle Company.

“We talk regularly to the other retailers, and we talk about, ‘What point of sale system are you using? What are you bringing to the sidewalk sale? What are you doing this month? For the Fourth of July weekend? Are you doing specials? Are you going to stay up late Thursday nights in the summer? Should we all have the same hours to get people to come shopping?’” said Dalton.

She said customers have to make a bit of an effort to go to the Marblehead Historic District, and she and other business owners in the area try to draw customers in the area to their stores.

Seaside Allure is open seven days a week. Dalton said that while running a small business is hard, owners have to adapt to the needs of the customers.

“If we’re closed, we’re potentially kind of missing out on sales,” Dalton said. “So we’ve just, over the years, always tried to be open and available.”

Dalton is also looking to partner with new vendors to bring new inventory, gift options, and clothing collections to the store. Right now, she is designing Seaside Allure’s perfume line with a new vendor.

The new  line is made in France and will be available in May. Dalton said the line will be good for the spring and summer months with options like Citrus Basil, Cedar Suede, and Sea Mist Lemon.