I’m just as disappointed about the Dolle’s sign

December 24, 2021

My name is Tom Ibach, the owner of Dolle’s Candyland Inc. I’m writing this letter to correct some misinformation and address some confusion which are circulating regarding the removal of the Dolle’s sign from its longtime location overlooking the Boardwalk.

We have been overwhelmed with angry phone calls, emails and people walking into our store, all expressing anger at the removal of the Dolle’s sign. One person even stopped me on the street and chastised me for “taking down a historic landmark by selling the property for a lot of money.” This statement could not be further from the truth and is the reason I decided to write this letter.

I do understand the outcry! The Dolle’s sign has been part of many memories of Rehoboth Beach and served as the backdrop to countless photographs, paintings and drawings.

Nearly every TV broadcast from Rehoboth Beach featured the Dolle’s sign in the background. At some point, this beloved orange sign took on a life of its own.

When you saw the sign, you didn’t need a caption to know where the shot was from. You knew that’s Rehoboth Beach.

This sign differentiated our town from all the other beach towns because there was nothing else that was so prominent and in its own way, inspiring.

It didn’t matter what was occurring in the world, good or bad, the Dolle’s sign was always there, a symbol of stability in an ever-changing world. And over time, because of its sheer size and the tremendous publicity it received, it became a landmark! So, like you, I am devastated.  

I, like many others, grew up seeing the famous sign. I started working at Dolle’s for my grandparents at an early age. After the passing of my grandparents, I worked for my aunts. Later, in 1996, I purchased the business to continue the legacy of my grandfather.

At that time, I was not given the option to purchase the real estate, but instead entered into a 25-year lease with the owners of the property, which expired on Jan. 31, 2021.

Since 1996, I spent considerable time, effort and money in an attempt to buy the property, but I could never come to terms with the owner on the purchase price.  

During the last couple months of my old lease, several events occurred which sealed the fate of the sign. First, the Dolle’s property was sold. I found out about the sale just as many of you did, from the newspaper.

Second, as part of the removal of the trade fixtures from the premises, an agreement was put in place that required the sign to be taken down by Dec. 31, 2021. Under the terms of the old lease, the sign would have been removed by Jan. 31, 2021.  

I never expected such community outcry over the sign. I agree that it is unfortunate that an integral part of Rehoboth history is gone. The sign was more than the business beneath it. It was a symbol of Rehoboth Beach, and was most likely the most photographed and painted landmark not only in Rehoboth but also in the State of Delaware as well.

With all that said, we need to move on and ensure that Rehoboth history is preserved.

History is an important part of our lives; it represents an abundance of memories over the span of generations and a chance to learn from our mistakes.

Deepest respects,
Tom Ibach
Rehoboth Beach
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