Rachel Webster and Bee Linzey say time, like one of their kites, just flies by.
Rehoboth Toy and Kite Company owners is celebrating the company's 20th anniversary this year, a milestone that has caught even its owners off-guard.
“I’ve never thought of it,” Linzey said. “I’d hoped so. I hoped it would be a career.”
“We didn’t have any money so we didn’t have any money to lose,” Webster said. "We just worked. It all came together. We learned more and more each year, and it just continued to grow.”
“We knew the concept was good. We knew this was a good place for it. We didn’t have too many doubts,” Linzey said.
Before opening in Rehoboth, Linzey and Webster had worked for several years at Kite Loft in Ocean City. They noticed a kite store was something Rehoboth didn't have, and they decided to strike out on their own, beginning their venture at 1 Virginia Ave. on the Boardwalk. They opened in 1993 selling kites from a friend’s bike-rental shop, but a year later, they took over the shop themselves.
“Both of us were really good at selling kites. We had both managed stores for the Kite Loft. We thought we could do this, but we had no concept of what it was like to run a business,” Linzey said. “It was really a big learning curve.”
“We loved what we were doing in Ocean City, and it was one of those things where we can do this for ourselves,” Webster said.
“It was more because it was fun,” Linzey said. “If you’re going to open a business, why not open something where when people came in their eyes light up and they get a big smile on their face?”
In 1997, after three years on the Boardwalk, the pair wanted more visibility and foot traffic. That's when Rehoboth Toy and Kite opened its second location on at 67 Rehoboth Ave.
While toys now make up a large percentage of Rehoboth Toy and Kite’s business – even more than kites – Webster and Linzey say kites still provide a niche that brings people in. There's always something to look at: whether its the colorful kites that line the walls, the squeaking puppy dog toys or the neon green fright wigs.
The store is ringing in its anniversary the same way it has for the past 20 years: with the annual Fun Fly event, 10 a.m., Saturday, April 19, at Rehoboth Toy and Kite’s original location at 1 Virginia Ave. and the Boardwalk. The Fun Fly includes appearances by the Easter Bunny, food and refreshments, games and prizes and an Easter egg hunt, not to mention the big attraction: kite flying.
“We started it because Rehoboth never really had a kite event,” Linzey said. The Greater Delaware Kite Festival has been held in Lewes on Good Friday for more than 40 years, Linzey said, but Rehoboth had no kite-flying event. So, to give kite flyers already in town for the Lewes event a reason to come to Rehoboth, Linzey and Webster created the Fun Fly.
Webster said the first Fun Fly featured fruit salad handmade in her apartment, and she and Linzey had plenty of doubts whether the concept would work.
“People look forward to it every year now,” Linzey said.
As for the rest of their anniversary events, Webster said, “Stay tuned."
Rehoboth Toy and Kite is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the offseason and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the summer. For more information, call 302-227-6996.