Bucks County Herald

Gerry Monigan: New Hope Notebook

Main Street business scene evolves



Oneka Benn has opened a shop called Design Pretty on North Main Street.

Change is in the air at the shops of North Main Street.

A few weeks ago, Cockamamie's closed its doors after 23 years of selling art deco merchandise. And now Ferry Hill Antiques and Gifts is winding down after a 41-year run.

Ronald Hazzard, who opened Ferry Hill in 1976 with his wife, Heinke, died on June 6, and Heinke has decided to close the store and move closer to their children.

“We had a wonderful life here,” Heinke said recently. “Ron lived to be 80, and he loved what he did so much. He just loved being in this store and meeting people. We have been fortunate.”

Amid these bittersweet memories, life goes on. Oneka Benn Schwartz is proof.

Benn recently opened Design Pretty at 9 North Main, between Carol Love's shop, Well Hello, and the former Cockamamie's.

Design Pretty features Benn's home furnishings, interior designs and fashion accessories, the majority of which she has made herself.

“I have a passion for making things as local as possible,” said Benn, who is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and began her career in 1999 with a window-treatments “workroom” in Union City, N.J., where she lived after her parents emigrated from Ghana when she was 5 years old. “I'd say 85 percent of my merchandise is self-made.”

Benn lived for eight years in Bermuda, and when her husband changed jobs, the family, including three children, moved to this area. Benn looked online for a place to open a business and, like many people, saw New Hope and was hooked.

“Opening this store was impulsive,” she said. “I came to take a look on a Friday, and that Monday I signed the lease. I know New Hope is known as a tourist town, but I want to get local people to know I'm here.

“Furnishing your home is very personal, something people give a lot of thought, and my things express that.”

Benn said she plans to hold workshops in the slower months, sharing what she has learned. And judging from her merchandise, she knows plenty.

Other news

Downtown, Chateau Exotique is preparing to move into 97 South Main, formerly Sterling Leather, from its current location, 27 West Mechanic, where it has been for 15 years.

Alexis Miller said she is excited about the new location, which will give her business, which bills itself as “a sexy store that caters to people with discriminating and sometimes unusual tastes,” better exposure, so to speak.

Pet Photos Plus, which will do animal and family photography, is preparing to move into the former Cockamamie's … The Pup Club, “fun stuff for pets and their humans,” has recently opened at 30 West Bridge St.

MENtality menswear consignments recently opened at 16 West Bridge … Gallery des Artists paintings recently opened at 20 West Bridge … Keepers & Co. new and vintage apparel recently opened at 15 West Ferry.

At 115 South Main, Salt Water Shop has opened on the second floor, touting gear “for those who love being in, on, or near the water.”

Royal T's at the Mansion Inn is temporarily, a BYOB. It is offering a complimentary glass of wine with any entree.

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