Founded in Family: Meet The Family Behind The Bywatyr Shop

A legacy by the water, second and third generation of The Bywatyr Shop continue the family business 33rd year.
Long Beach Township’s The Bywatyr Shop is Founded in Family

Denise Burr started vacationing to Long Beach Island with her family in 1980. The family atmosphere led her parents to purchase a summer home in Village Harbor, then move permanently to Beach Haven Terrace. The Bywater shop was a well-established dress shop for 30 years, prior to Denise’s parents Thomas and Joanne Quinlan purchasing it in 1985. The Quinlans felt when they brought the shop they would purchase the name as well; since it had a history here and the name was so relevant. Bywatyr is a Welsh name, meaning by the water, which was perfect for an island business. The family opened as a gift shop, as their experience grew they established a collectable market. Through the years they have adapted to the latest consumer demand such as stocking Country furniture, and converting the second floor into Doll Houses and furnishings. They became the exclusive LBI retailer for her brother’s popular manufactured candles and created a candle carving station were customers could watch wedding and lighthouse candles being carved to order. When doll houses dropped in popularity, they converted the space into an Art Gallery, which features local artist whenever possible. They attended framing school, purchased framing equipment and began custom framing. The shop includes computerized matt cutters, framing saws, specialized heat presses, glass cutters and reasonable priced moldings. This has allowed the family to expand the gallery to include framing of customer’s artwork. The shop is also known for the brightly colored furniture surrounds their establishment. When maintenance free “plywood” furniture came on the market the Bywatyr was the first shop on the island to specialize in it. Doing much research they stocked furniture that is the highest quality furniture made with steel that can withstand the salt air.

As the family celebrates 33 years in operation, it looks back on the efforts of Thomas and Joanne who were at the helm for three decades and how it has become a total family enterprise. Denise who assisted during college breaks, summer and holidays; bought the business in 2016 with her husband Bob. They feel fortunate to have the Quinlan’s still involved. Thomas handles all of The Bywatyr Shop’s advertising, and web presence. He also creates the shop’s line of custom coasters and mugs of local establishments. Joanne continues to work in the store several days a week where her 33 years of experience and knowledge of running a retail business is invaluable. Customers of the Bywatyr ask for her on a regular basis. Denise states “Working with family has been a wonderful experience, it allows three generations to see everyone on a regular basis. We are all working together for a common goal and when that goal is accomplished we celebrate together. While the younger generation keeps us up to date with new ideas, our older generation has years of valuable experience we draw from to run a successful business. “When the Burr’s took over the Bywatyr they brought their Embroidery/screen-printing business into the product line. Providing the service in Toms River specializing in sports uniforms, school fundraisers and corporate wear for the past decade, they expanded to a complete line of beach themed original designed t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, bags for LIB sold exclusively at the shop. In addition to her parents, her husband is responsible for making all the picture frames, and as well as screen printing their original designs. Their two sons deliver the furniture in the summer while they are home from college. Joanne’s sister works for at the shop several days a week as well. Denise who oversees all operations of the business, recognizes without her family members her job would be nearly impossible.

Denise reflects on the changes since Super Storm Sandy, the majority of small summer cottages have been replaced by larger homes that can cater to multiple families on vacation. “The high cost of doing business in a short summer season, has caused some commercial businesses to be replaced with new homes. Through the years we have seen a lot of our friends businesses leave the island due to that dynamic. We continue to adapt by looking at what the residents on LBI are in need of and changing what we offer to accommodate their needs.” With the expansion of chain retail establishments into Manahawkin and the internet it became increasingly difficult to survive. They credit their loyal customer base for the shop being able to thrive.

Through all the changes LBI has experienced, Denise still feels the charm that pulled her family to LBI 38 years ago. That small town feel, where it’s safe to let your children play without worry. She reflects on the many customers who share that they remember watching her dad carve candles when they were little and are now buying furniture from us for their new home on the island. The next generation will not remember the Shack when going over the bridge but she will be telling them the stories about seeing the shack and knowing we had arrived on LBI.