32963 Homepage

Want to purchase reprints of your favorite 32963 or photos?

Copies of Vero Beach 32963 can be obtained at the following locations:


Our office HQ: (located at 4855 North A1A)
1. Corey's Pharmacy
2. 7-Eleven

(South A1A)
3. Major Real Estate Offices


1. Vero Beach Book

2. Classic Car Wash
3. Divine Animal
4. Sunshine Furniture

5. Many Medical

Business brisk at boutiques in Village Shops


Shoppers have returned en masse to the Village Shops since pandemic sanctions were eased. Normally, the pace at the boutique outdoor shopping center in Indian River Shores slows down in May, but not this year.

Village Shops owner Jay McLaughlin attributed May’s increase in shoppers to seasonal residents who have chosen to stay longer and, in some cases, through the summer.

As the owner of two businesses in the shopping center – high-end sportswear clothier J. McLaughlin and the Citron Bistro, a fine-dining establishment featuring New American cuisine – McLaughlin has seen the effects of COVID-19 mandated shutdowns from several perspectives: landlord, shop owner and restaurateur.

During a time when independent shop owners are struggling, McLaughlin said he is thrilled that all but one of the shops in his center have reopened. The national chain Everything but Water won’t be returning, while the Filomena Day Spa will be reopening in the fall under new ownership since the owner is retiring.

To support shop owners during and after the shutdown, McLaughlin allowed tenants to defer rent payments. “We offered a reduction in rent through the summer and then a step up at a latter part in the lease just to help them out.”

The offer of assistance came naturally to McLaughlin, who bought and extensively upgraded the Village Shops in 2013, modeling the renovation and retail concept on the iconic Brentwood Country Mart in Los Angeles.

“That’s how we run this center in a personalized way,” McLaughlin said. “As former retailers for 40 years, my wife and I can sympathize with the difficulties of unpredictable situations like this. The full ramifications of the pandemic? Of course, we don’t know yet.”

Based on his involvement with J. McLaughlin stores around the country, he noted, “Florida so far has been affected the least of all the other states that we are involved with. In New York, they’re one to two months behind the way we’ve reopened. They’re not nearly ready to serve food in restaurants; and the stores, if open, are limited, so we’re blessed in that sense.”

McLaughlin said businesses need the “ability to adapt,” to survive in trying times. His Citron Bistro moved to takeout only during closures, and then, upon phased reopening, utilized the restaurant’s outdoor seating.

“The good news is that right from the beginning, our volume at Citron has exceeded what we did last year at this time,” he said.

“Just like retailers are looking to combine Internet sales with the shopping experience, restaurants have had to learn about a whole new business,” McLaughlin continued, explaining the need to adjust to serving a large number of clients within a small window of time. Going forward, he plans to adapt a limited menu for takeout because customers still want the option.

For other shop owners at the center, a sunny outlook permeated the monsoon-like weather last week – most attributing good May sales to customers who were anxious to get back out and shop.

The annual Village Shops Sidewalk sale – held on Memorial Day weekend, a much later date than usual – brought good traffic flow to the center and gave the shop owners a solid boost upon reopening.

“Since we’ve reopened, people have been coming in pretty steady,” said Coastal Comforts owner Dan Herrig. “We had the sidewalk sale, and it was really busy. Almost like it was in season again. It was nice to make up for April, which is the busiest time of the year, when we had to shut down.”

Catherine Caddell, the retail manager at Elegance by the Sea, noted that many of the seasonal residents are still here. “So, we’re having a delayed season of sales. Our month of May was the strongest May we’ve ever had.”

Belle Cose manager Ann Dennis said customers were lined up outside the door when they reopened. “Our customers have been very supportive. They’re glad that we’re open and glad to be back out shopping.”

Rock City Oceanside held its grand opening at the center just days before the announcement came ordering stores closed. “We felt like we were losing a little bit of momentum,” said owner Rhonda Lowe. “But when people realized we were reopening, they were very excited. We’ve gotten great feedback.”

The Alimentari Gourmet Market was able to stay open through the shutdown, providing customers with takeaway foods, wine, cheeses and desserts, according to owner JoAnn Crosby. She also added fresh meats, produce, and the ever-elusive toilet paper to her shelves. As customers continue to come in looking for these items, she said that her business model and product selection have forever changed.

Folks stopping by Sea Bags of Maine seem to be from all over Florida right now, according to shop manager Diane Julian. The shop gets a big chunk of its business from people staying at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and Julian expects to have another influx of customers when the resort reopens on June 15.

The outdoor venue offers an environment conducive to social distancing, McLaughlin said of his boutique shopping center.

“They’re not high traffic stores. They’re very specific, and a lot of the stores emphasize personal service. What we offer here works very well for the demographics of the area. That continues to prove itself to be a positive for us,” even during a pandemic.