By DON STINE
The Asbury Galleria, one of the first businesses to open in the Fifth Avenue Pavilion on the Asbury Park boardwalk 13 years ago after many years of being boarded up, closed its doors this month.
Owner Kay Harris, an Asbury Park native with a long and influential family lineage in the city, said after 13 years it was just time to go.
“I am sad to see this chapter in my life close- I had looked forward to being part of Asbury Park’s growth. However, when one door closes- another door opens,” she said.
Harris said she believes the new focus of shops in the Convention Hall Arcade will be specialty shops. She believes her store “had a good run but the Asbury Galleria will not be included in the direction that the arcade is taking.”
The Asbury Galleria’s merchandise was an array of Asbury Park historical and rock and roll memorabilia, current and classic photography, and an extensive collection devoted to the progress of the African-American community in Asbury Park throughout the years.
“My business was originally born out of my love for Asbury Park- as well as my enjoyment in capturing pictures of the many iconic images as it was going from its past decline through its resurgence in recent years,” Harris said.
The Asbury Galleria opened 13 years ago, in May 2005, when the boardwalk businesses were managed by Asbury Partners. The store started off in the Fifth Avenue Pavilion, when the boardwalk was in disrepair and the pavilion had been boarded-up for years.
“My original store was an attempt to bridge visitors from the boardwalk to our downtown shopping area, which was really struggling to make a comeback. I did this by inviting other businesses, whose main locations were on Cookman and Mattison Avenues, to share a large retail space. I would always try to promote all of Asbury Park and invite them to explore Cookman Avenue and its side streets, in addition to the offerings of the Asbury Park boardwalk,” she said.
Harris said there were about eight other businesses open in a few pavilions on the boardwalk in 2005.
“The only two that are still around are Eddie Confetti and the Mayfair. Therefore, I’m fortunate to have made it this long,” she said.
Asbury Shutterbugs was the store’s original name, always with a focus on historic and iconic images of Asbury Park.
“In addition to my own photographs, I’ve tried to provide an outlet for other local artists/photographers by carrying their photography or drawings as traditional prints, canvas, metal and even holiday ornaments. I have done the same with local book authors and authors of Jersey Shore-themed books,” she said.
Harris’s business moved from the Fifth Avenue Pavilion to the Third Avenue Pavilion, next to the Mayfair Restaurant who had been an occupant of that pavilion for over 50 years. Eventually Harris downsized her store to a smaller space in the Convention Hall Grand Arcade.
“I enjoyed it all and it allowed me to fulfill my passion about Asbury Park. But, just as important, it gave me an opportunity to provide mentorships for young folks to help out in the store,” she said.
Harris said she will continue to have an on-line presence through her website: www.asburygalleria.com.
“The Asbury Galleria may also have a presence at local festivals as they occur,” she said.