The Parlor Celebrates 50 Years in Bay Village
On Saturday afternoon the strains of guitarist Ryan Zimmerman’s Jimi Hendrix-like version of the Star Spangled Banner screamed out over Bay Avenue in Beach Haven, causing passersby to crane their necks to look up at a rooftop in the Bay Village complex.
What, they wondered, was going on?
Well, Zimmerman’s solo was the musical attention-grabbing prelude to Beach Haven Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis, who read and then presented a proclamation to Michael Maloney, the owner of “The Parlor,” located on Bay Village’s second floor. The Parlor, you see, has been a Queen City institution for 50 years.
“We were one of the original founding shops (in Bay Village),” said Maloney. Well, the fudge shop (Country Kettle Fudge) was first; its owner, John Maschal, designed and built Bay Village in 1965.
The name of the shop back then was the Dollar Parlor. Dollar stores are now as ubiquitous as the Model T was in the second decade of the 20th century or the Kia Soul is today. Not so in 1967.
“We were the first dollar store in South Jersey, maybe the first one in New Jersey,” said Maloney.
The original owner was truthful. Sure, some items to be found in dollar stores today actually cost a buck. But many more are far more expensive. The Dollar Parlor was honest.
“It started as the Dollar Parlor,” said Maloney. “Then it became the Two Dollar Parlor, then the Three Dollar Parlor. In 2000 we dropped the number.”
That was the year Maloney bought the shop and became its third owner. He had worked there since 1993.
It evolved over the years from a somewhat typical dollar store to an arguably unique place.
“We sell novelties and toys but also tourist stuff; you can get a LBI shot glass, things like that,” said Maloney.
The shop’s merchandise selection especially appeals to kids – that is, once they find it. Its second-floor location cuts down the number of people who just walk in off the street.
“It’s the best kept secret, but once we get our hooks into them, it’s OK,” Maloney said, laughing. “We’re the most kid-friendly shop on the Island.”
That’s why Steve Rogers was there on Saturday.
Rogers is a documentary filmmaker who grew up in Manahawkin and once worked as an actor at Surflight Theatre and as a reporter for this newspaper. He’s best known for “Driving Jersey,” which isn’t an Uber-like company, but a PBS show that was nominated for a national Emmy Award. “Driving Jersey,” which was self-funded instead of relying on corporate sponsors, aired for five years on NJTV before it ran out of financial gas last year. But it has been resurrected under the name “Here’s the Story,” and Rogers was in town filming an episode that is tentatively scheduled to air this December.
“Everybody comes back here,” said Rogers. “When I was a kid, my parents used to bring me to Hartman’s (Amusement Park, now Fantasy Island) and then here. The reason I’m doing this episode? Sentimentality.”
— Rick Mellerup