Serendipity by the Sea closes after 13 years
After 13 years running the shop Serendipity by the Sea in downtown Marion, Cecily Balboni is ready to take a break from the responsibility that comes with owning a business. Despite being ready to step back, Balboni said the decision to close the shop at the end of 2020 was “very bittersweet.”
As much as she loved her job, she said it was becoming too much.
“I’m in my mid-50s,” she said. “Honestly, I just didn’t want to be the boss anymore, cause I work seven days a week, 12 hours a day.”
Serendipity by the Sea’s planned closure was announced on Facebook on Dec. 21 and explained further in an advertisement placed in Sippican Week’s Dec. 24 paper. The ad said the shop would be closing in January. Then, on Monday, Dec. 28, a post on the Serendipity by the Sea Facebook page announced that the shop at 160 Front Street in Marion was officially closed.
“I was planning on probably closing later, but then we just got completely sold out over a weekend,” Balboni said.
Balboni said she remembers a gift shop and ice cream shop occupying Serendipity by the Sea’s space when she was growing up. She said she hopes another small, locally-owned shop or boutique will occupy the space again in the future.
Balboni said it was time for someone else to take over the storefront.
“We have several people already looking that want to open a gift store here,” she said.
But Balboni’s time in downtown Marion might not be over just yet.
“[Retail is] what I love doing. I would love to continue to do it, I just don’t want to be in charge,” she said with a laugh.
The coronavirus pandemic was another consideration in the decision to close, Balboni said. Serendipity was able to successfully transition to online business during the initial March shutdown and reopened in June — coming back “even better than we did the year before” according to Balboni.
Still, there were questions about what impact a potential (and widely expected) January shutdown might have. Balboni wasn’t sure if the store could handle another shutdown.
“In June, we were going into a strong selling period,” she said. “If you close down in January and you’re sitting on all this inventory, two months later you’re not going into a strong selling period. You’re still in that more quiet time.”
Balboni also spoke of many fond memories from the shop. She said she regularly switched the music to brighten customers’ days when they seemed “quiet or grumpy.”
Balboni recalled a time when a nervous mom had called the shop and said “Listen, Cecily, it’s going to be Emily’s first time riding her bike downtown on her own. I’m scared to death.”
The mother asked if Balboni could secretly call to let the mom know that her daughter had arrived safely at Serendipity.
Balboni agreed, and said it worked out well because the mom felt reassured and the daughter “felt great” about her first solo bike trip.
Because of the shop’s ties to the community, Balboni said many Marion residents expressed sadness about Serendipity’s closure. Several wrote notes to shop employees or came in to say goodbye.
Without hesitation, Balboni said what she loved most about Serendipity was the people — both her customers and her employees.
And, when asked what she hoped her shop would be remembered for, Balboni was quick to answer.
“You always left here with a smile,” she said. “And someone knew your name, someone knew your grandkid’s name.”