The Shoppes at the Arcade in Asbury Park, NJ has never quite lived up to its potential in my opinion. Amazing historic building, tons of exposed brick, high ceilings, salvaged wood floors, lots of industrial design elements, and located in the heart of downtown Asbury. It really is an impressive space. But for some reason it just always felt cut off from the rest of the downtown. You just don’t have the same visibility as a stand-alone street level shop on Cookman Ave. Sometimes you just forget it’s there. A large part of that is branding and marketing.

I always envisioned something like the Chelsea Market in NYC for the space. And while it hasn’t reached that level yet, the Shoppes are on a roll as of late. What they desperately need now is a concerted marketing plan to push them over the edge. A website, social media effort and advertising to bring it all together – that’s sorely needed. Of course that costs money. Plus you have to get 20 something different business owners together, on the same page and that’s not easy. But it should be done. If you split advertising and marketing costs between that many people its no doubt cheaper.


I’ve especially noticed big improvements at the Shoppes over the past year. Lots of new, creative tenants opening their doors there. Back in February, Backward Glances, the longtime Red Bank vintage shop, made the move. There’s also Salt Studios, a photography space that opened last month. Plus there are a nice mix of antique and retro stores as well as a record shop and new age store. The lone food outlet, Crust and Crumble rounds out the space (there is more we are forgetting so don’t bite our heads off). Go over there and explore for yourself if you haven’t been there yet

To me The Shoppes at the Arcade is now a destination, peaking at the right moment. With TAKA Japanese restaurant moving in on the corner next door later this summer, that no doubt will give the Shoppes the visibility its desperately been seeking over the years.


We turn our attention to the most recent tenant at the Shoppes, ACDWSH, a small company run by young creatives that make sunglasses, watches and other items out of recycled skateboards.

I recently met owners Alex Frank, 26 and his girlfriend Emily Murphy, 23 (above). Just a super cool, down to earth young couple who moved into a loft above their business a few weeks ago. So far the two have been kicking ass at their first ever business venture. And that’s good news in a down economy and a location not known for a ton of foot traffic. You can thank the internet, and more importantly social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook for getting the word out about ACDWSH. What’s important is that ACDWSH doesn’t rely on foot traffic to pay the bills. In the retail game, the internet is key to surviving. The space doubles as their office and storage for their products.


So how did the two get started?

“We actually got started making custom acid washed Vans sneakers, and they were super popular”, says Frank. “One day I spilled a bunch of bleach on my shoes and they turned out super cool looking. (We) threw a few pairs up on the internet for sale and they really caught on and got a lot of attention on Tumblr, Instagram, etc. which helped drive some traffic to our website.”

That initial business platform ultimately led to watches and sunglasses made from recycled wood.

“One day I was at a surf shop and saw a wood watch that I absolutely LOVED, but couldn’t afford at the time. A bunch of my close friends that I went to school with in Philadelphia had connections in the design world, and put me in touch with a few people willing to manufacture some really cool wood watches and glasses. The design is all done in-house.”


Both the glasses and watches are made from a variety of different materials including re-purposed skateboard wood, recycled bamboo, wood veneers, ebony, zebrawood and more.

Frank tells us, “The shades are a big hit with fisherman and stand-up paddle boarders because they float.”

ACDWSH started with only a few products on their website which immediately sold out. Eventually the amount of orders they received took over the entire house.

That’s when the two decided to look for commercial space in Asbury Park.


“As for moving to Asbury, it was the natural choice for us. Growing up my parents were partners in Barron’s Auction Gallery on Main St. (now A&J sneakers) so I never really left AP. Emily works at Langosta Lounge as well and everyone I have met there are some of the friendliest, most amazing people in the world. They have done so much to support our new shop and everyone I know from the area has been so amazingly helpful and supportive – it would have been an awful decision to go anywhere else.”

The products at ACDWSH are also very reasonable priced with sunglasses and watches in the $50 to $90. They also make a line of iPhone cases as well.

The shop is located once again at The Shoppes at the Arcade, 658 Cookman Ave. Find them online at, and


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