Heritage shows. It’s what you’re raised with, what you’re accustomed to, what you hold close to your heart — like Cathy Roberts and her Bermuda Linens & Gifts.
Bermuda Linens & Gifts is a T-shaped shop in St George’s that features the beautiful feminine lace and embroidered goods Ms Roberts remembers from her childhood.
Ms Roberts said: “I grew up with a mother who always had a tablecloth on the kitchen table.
“We had large family dinners on every occasion with starched embroidered table linens, including ‘real’ napkins, bone china and crystal.”
So she has filled her shop with tablecloths that range from all-lace to snowflake, pinstripes to Alpine stripes, and silk brocades to burgundy velvets and metallic golds.
“I help people figure out the size they need, even if they don’t have their measurements, and I can educate customers on the fabrics, washing, stain removal and ironing tips.”
Enter the store from either end. Placemats, runners, doilies and napkins from crocheted ecru to seasonal reds and greens assure customers of choice.
The apparel reflects the feminine character of the shop with its sleeveless and long-sleeved embroidered blouses, and open collar and Mandarin style silks.
Its nightgowns are the stuff of fairytales — all-white Battenberg lace, eyelet and smocked cotton, and tatted V-necks in children’s and adult sizes.
Customers will find pastel boxers, trim tunics and strapless cover-ups. And the store’s personal effects feature colourful shawls and old-fashioned handkerchiefs.
“I would say that my specialty among the gifts is not so much one thing, but rather the fact that I carry a wide variety and price range to suit different tastes and budgets,” said Ms Roberts.
“I spend a lot of time choosing items that have a good value for money.
“I ask myself if I would pay that much for something, and if the answer is no, then I don’t get it…
“I do make my own ‘bath and body’ in my not so spare time, of which soaps, lotions and salts are the most popular.”
Among the more modern gifts that Bermuda Linens & Gifts carries are tampon, condom and business card cases.
Totes, lipsticks and handbag holders are more of the myriad goods on show in the shop or its website.
This store on the water provides gifts for men as well.
Select from a boxed set of six olive coloured shot glasses and decanter, ‘Burnt By Dad’ or ‘King of the Grill’ apron, or even a Dad Pilsner Glass that says, ‘Dad: the original Bail Out plan’.
“The main things that have proven to be good are the variety of gift items… Novelty jewellery organizers have been proven to be very popular,” said Ms Roberts.
“They are a fun and functional way to hang your earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
“There are kids and teen styles and plenty for the adults, from the whimsical to more sophisticated tastes, ranging from $18 to $45.”
“My customers range from the little girl who has $2 in change and needs a gift for her mother to my favourite seniors who still appreciate a fine hanky.
“They can count on me to be happy and helpful and make them feel welcome and appreciated.”
Foot traffic forms the largest portion of business at Bermuda Linens & Gifts, although the website drives some of that to the store.
“I’ve yet to convince the locals that shopping online in Bermuda is even better than shopping online from the States — no shipping costs and easy returns.
“Many are using it as a tool to look for what they want and then come to the shop to see and purchase.”
Ms Roberts noted that Americans are her biggest online shoppers, especially those seeking hand-embroidered linens.
Passengers ferried from the Veendam have made Tuesday her busiest, though not necessarily best day. Ms Roberts said: “My best days are when I get the locals from near and far… They are, after all, why I’m here.”
So it’s Bermudians that make her business, most of whom appreciate unique imported goods.
“All of my items are imported,” said Ms Roberts.
“Though I am quite happy to sell local if someone approached me with goods that would fit well.”
Comfortable, stress-free shopping without the hustle and bustle of Hamilton is guaranteed according to Ms Roberts.
She said: “Customers can know that they are getting the best price I can give them.
“If they sign up for my newsletter, Facebook or Twitter, they get first hand knowledge of sales, specials and new shipments.”
Bermuda Linens & Gifts is now gearing up for Hallowe’en.
“I’ve got cackling witches, hanging spiders, trick-or-treat and favour bags, witches’ hats, Halloween décor and more.”
And leading up to Christmas, the shop will be open for late-night shopping on Saturdays.
“Christmas is my favourite time of year. I will have wonderful gifts to choose from at all price points, from stocking stuffers to decorative décor.
“And I have all of the gift packaging for do-it-yourself’ers, or free gift wrapping and personalized basket creation.
“Online orders can be picked up within 24 hours, or delivery may be arranged.”
Ms Roberts explained: “Delivery is not a service that I offer, but rather a favour at the convenience of both of us, because I do not charge for it.
“At this time, arrangements can easily be made for delivery between St George’s and Hamilton. I enlist my husband for help with anything further west.”
There is nearby temporary parking by Dowling’s gas station and long-term parking on the far side of King’s Square.
Ms Roberts said: “St George’s is a beautiful, unique little town that had a wonderful huge shop just waiting for me to fill.
“I love the layout and the surroundings on the harbour.
“It’s had a hard time since the cruise ships stopped coming in, but the people have heart and the determination to make it flourish again.
“It’s a 30-minute drive to work for me, but a pleasure once I get there.
“There are gaps in what can be found and purchased in St George’s, and I’m enjoying filling one of them.”