Pat Cauley opened its first Breezin’ Up location at Bay Village approximately 37 years ago. His wife, Patricia, manages the stores and her Wall Street background makes a positive impact on the success of the business.
The first storefront was extremely small, 12 foot by 12 foot approximately! Now decades later, Breezin’ Up has a large store in Bay Village as well as 12 other locations spread throughout New Jersey, South Carolina, Florida and Massachusetts.
“We began Breezin’ Up because we wanted time with our kids,” Cauley shared. His philosophy was and is… “busy hands equal happy hands.” Not only did the Cauley’s spend time with their children, who are now grown, but they also developed friendships with employees. Many employees began working for the Cauley in the summer as teenagers, but have transitioned into long-time employees, some have only worked for him in their careers.
Breezin’ Up is all about the “old shore look” — from displays to vintage style merchandise. Quality is the driving factor of all its products. Cauley shared that it is important to provide apparel and products that last. “If we sell it, we want to be proud of it,” he said. “We wanted to design comfortable, durable clothing inspired by the beach; what you wear when you want to relax. It needed to be softly washed and slightly faded, to look and feel as if it had been hanging out in the summer sun.”
Simplistic designs are what its customers seek and Breezin’ Up’s Vintage line is the most popular. Another top-seller is the Breezin’ Up Heavyweight Sweatshirt, which sells out as fast as it comes in stock. Made in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Even with store displays, Cauley uses all Amish wood and dies it to create the look of wood that has been in the ocean for a long time. He then builds out his own display pieces for not only the Beach Haven store, but all the stores. The managers then take the build-outs and merchandise with a simple, yet effective approach. “My managers have a lot of autonomy and are involved in how the store runs and looks,” Cauley said.
Approximately 90% of all merchandise that Breezin’ Up carries is Made in the USA. In terms of sourcing product, Cauley shared that the majority of the designs and patterns are created by them, as Cauley and his wife are artists. On occasion Cauley’s wife will attend trade shows, but since they create and trademark their own designs, they don’t necessarily need to shop the markets. The store still works with many of the makers that it worked with when it opened its doors, which transform its in-house designs into merchandise.
Breezin’ Up’s success is notable, not only in terms of its business life-span, but the loyalty it has inspired with employees, vendors and customers. The quality of the products brings people in and keeps them coming back.