Paco’s Paradise in the Village of Fenwick is celebrating its 40th year in business this year. Owner John Hastings explained that he had gone to Oaxaca, Mexico, on a whim with a fraternity brother and brought some hand-embroidered shirts home. After giving them to his brother, “people wanted to buy them off his back,” and, as they say, the rest is history.
Though he was armed with a degree in psychology, he said the opportunity for the store simply “presented itself.”
“I was 21 years old, with no experience. I never planned it,” he said of how he came to be in retail.
He and his wife, Teresa, opened Paco’s Paradise in 1974, on Somerset Street in Ocean City, Md. The next year, they moved to Fenwick Island, and they have been there ever since.
“We try to sell unusual boutique-y type items that are unique,” explained Teresa Hastings. “We have accessories, earrings, necklaces, handbags, scarves. And they are all very unique.”
John Hastings explained that they started buying items in Southeast Asia and imported for 35 years and still get many of the items from friends they have made over the years.
“They are highly specialized items,” said John Hastings. “There is a minimum quantity, and it’s unusual.”
Teresa Hastings added that their “typical” clientele is ladies between 30 and 70, and they specialize in comfort, as well as style.
“It’s less beach-y, and more going out to dinner, or happy hour-type clothing” she explained.
She said they are big on comfort and sell a lot of cotton items and tons of dresses. Over the years, things have changed style-wise, she noted.
“Probably the biggest thing is capris didn’t really exist before, and now people will have 20 or so pairs in their closet” she joked.
Another big change in the business is the amount of accessories they sell, added John Hastings. He said about 35 to 40 percent of their business is through the sale of scarves, handbags, jewelry and other accessories.
“We have got to be one of the biggest costume jewelry vendors,” he said. “Accessories have become an integral part of the business.”
Teresa added that it has been neat for Pacos’s Paradise to become part of vacation for many people and their families.
“We see some of the same faces year after year. It is a tradition to come to Paco’s! The girls get together and come here. It is a fun store with a relaxed atmosphere.”
John Hastings said the happy accident of ending up owning Paco’s Paradise has “made his life.”
“It was a very fortuitous accident. And we got to see the world, importing clothing and jewelry, and we have had a wonderful staff along the way.”
In addition to Paco’s Paradise, the Hastingses for 38 years have also owned Krugerand, a fine jewelry store also in the Village of Fenwick.
For more information on Paco’s Paradise, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pacos-Paradise/158525407521823 or call (302) 539-5065. The store is located at 300 Coastal Highway in the Village of Fenwick Island.