Working part time may be the best job
Over and over I hear stories about couples who frequently vacationed at the beach and plotted to retire here one day. I recently met Al and Linda Abrams who retired from AstraZeneca, in the Wilmington/Newark area. Like many retirees, they were ready to leave one career, yet they knew they wanted to work again.
"I can't watch TV in the morning," Linda laughs. "I need a reason to get out the door."
When a small retail store called Sea Finds in the Rehoboth Mews came on the market in 2008, Linda decided it was fate that she could find work and live in the town she loved.
"The buying and merchandizing is great, but it's the people who come into our store which makes this job special," Linda explained. "This one lady asked to buy a hundred charms. I learned she had stage 4 cancer and wanted to give them to all of the people who supported her. I will never forget the woman who came to the counter with a birthday card for her son. We began talking, and I found out her son was serving in Saudi Arabia. This store has good karma!"
Al's office is above the retail space. He points to a very narrow spiral staircase. "I go up and down all day. It keeps me going!"
At 79 years old, Al painted the inside of the store sea blue and added new shelving. "I enjoy meeting people too!" he stresses. And so does Reggie, their Australian shepherd rescue, who greets customers at the front door.
Who do they hire to work in the shop? They employ five retirees.
Carl Preate from York, Pa., spent his working years buying for museum shops. He was one of the employees at the original location. In 2011, the Abrams moved to the Penny Lane Mall, first on one side of the street and then to a larger space across the street.
"I came with the store," he laughs. "I've been here 10 years now. Working part time is wonderful. The owners are flexible and give me time off. Customers are very friendly, and nobody ever brings anything back."
Part-time employee Nancy Olson graduated from the same high school as Linda - Garnet Valley High School in Concordville, Pa. When Linda found out Nancy was retiring in 2012 to Rehoboth, she told her she would get bored and offered her a job.
"I've been working my whole life, and I didn't know how I would spend it without a job of some kind," said Nancy. "I don't want to clean drawers and vacuum. I need to do something fulfilling."
Nancy is in the early stages of Parkinson's. "Having a job makes me feel normal," she said. "The Abrams know I need to go to an exercise class every day, and they work around my schedule to give me 15 to 20 hours a week. I am amazed that they hired four old people, and somehow she comes up with a schedule which meets everyone's needs."
Linda says she still misses employee Eddie Kelly from Baltimore who worked at the shop for years until his death from cancer in September 2016. "If I feel lazy and don't want to go into work, I can hear Eddie yelling at me to quit griping and get yourself in there."
Sea Finds also features the handiwork of 20 to 30 local artists, many of whom are retirees who have found their way to work and live at the beach.