The Spotted Whale Takes to the Surf and Rolls Out Interior Design Services
Spring 2020 is the official debut of a new season—and decade! —on Long Beach Island, and our 18-mile enclave is sure to host a fresh wave of residents and vacationers alike, all flocking to escape the hustle and bustle of real-life back home and equally in need of an island retreat. For those visiting or staying, there’s nothing better than picking up a few seafaring accoutrements (or redecorating your entire beach house with them) to yield that sort of beautiful design aesthetic that just screams relaxation. But when faced with the questions of Where to go? Who to ask? the answer is clear: The Spotted Whale has made a significant splash in the coastal interior design market not only on Long Beach Island, but the entire Jersey Shore.
Filled with a beachy, curated selection of textiles, furniture and home décor accessories, The Spotted Whale is a retail boutique located in both Viking Village and Beach Haven with a fresh point of view towards the beach aesthetic. Bursting with coastal vibes and radiating an elevated sense of taste and style, it is the local mecca for finding any object or houseware tailor-made for an LBI beach home. It’s hard to believe this carefully culled boutique’s beginnings involved a few serendipitous encounters post-Sandy and the impulsive decision for a New York City design executive and mom-of-three, Anne Pecora, to take a leap of faith and open her own boutique on the north-end of Long Beach Island (and later Ocean City, Stone Harbor, and then again with a second location on the south-end of LBI.)
Educated at the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID) and the Germain School of Photography, Pecora spent decades in the commercial design realm, eventually becoming Vice President of Design Service for Ruitenberg Design Inc., which was one of the more prestigious display companies of its time in the New York metropolitan area. Pecora’s portfolio boasted clients such as the New York Stock Exchange, The United Nations, Hallmark Gold Crown stores, Food Emporium, and premier Vornado building lobbies in New York City—which include Madison Square Garden and Penn Station.
By 2012, the fifteen-year resident of Loveladies was ready for the next chapter in her life and decided, after much consideration, that Viking Village would be an ideal site for the location of a coastal home furnishings store with a brand-new design perspective: her own. “After leaving an amazing yet time intensive job, the quaint serene landscape of Viking Village was perfect. It gave me a sense of calm and somehow was the ideal place to begin a new adventure,” she notes. Although she was under contract when Hurricane Sandy hit the island in fall of 2012, Pecora was fortunate enough to move forward with closing on the Viking Village property in December of 2012 regardless. Presumed to have been built in the late 1950’s in Harvey Cedars, the structure of the store was actually once a little residential bungalow that sold for $1 to the previous owner, moved to its current location and used as a storefront. Once she acquired it, she and her team “gave the little gem a well-deserved facelift,” Anne adds with a smile. This charming little bungalow was given a new breath of life with a fresh coat of paint, a light renovation which included an open floor plan, and was subsequently repurposed for the new retail shoppe which opened its doors in Viking Village for the 2013 season.
Nostalgia draws the son of the original homeowners (now in his 80’s) back to the little store each season to visit his childhood residence and reminisce of days yonder. “It has its little story and a ton of charm. We all at The Spotted Whale love it, respect its family history and work hard to maintain its uniqueness within the Viking Village community,” says Pecora of the home that now holds her boutique. “I’ve always looked at the structure as a family’s little beach home, that we’re just lucky enough to occupy. It came from humble beginnings and we will always maintain that feel. All our customers and team members continue to enjoy the ‘little bungalow’ which is full of laughs and smiles every season, as if it’s original family still lived in it, enjoying a summer,” she shares. “We enjoy our well-deserved employee appreciation dinner at the Barnegat Light location every summer in August. We close early, set up tables, string lights bring in fresh fish from Off The Hook and just have a fun time exchanging stories, catching up and just kicking our feet up! Oftentimes a customer or two will bike by and have a glass of wine with us,” she adds.
Instantaneously recognizing Pecora’s impeccable taste and eye for design through her store’s creative visual merchandising, local clientele began sourcing The Spotted Whale for their unique coastal design and decorating expertise. Enthusiastic to shift into the residential side of interior planning and design, the all service-based facet of Anne’s company was rapidly born. “Many of our clients were approaching us because they needed guidance with the process of decorating. They knew what they liked, but weren’t quite sure how to cohesively combine pieces to create that casual, yet well-curated space.” Within a year or two, Anne realized the need for design services and the demand for them to be turnkey. Anne and her staff are now regarded as one of the more coveted design teams behind some of the island’s most unique homes, from Barnegat Light to Holgate, and everywhere in between.
Out front, The Spotted Whale displays a colorful array of outdoor furniture, rugs, pillows and Adirondack chairs, making one feel as though they are truly walking through a friend’s charming patio in order to step into their home; upon entering patrons are welcomed with a bright, cheery and inviting space. Nautical stripes, ocean blues, and sandy whites aside, the beachy-vibed theme is apparent throughout without being overly excessive. Shoppers can find everything from colorful statement pieces to beautiful neutrals that can layer into any space. Pecora and her team of buyers spend countless hours sourcing for home décor furnishings and coastal home accessories that are timeless, elegant, sophisticated—yet always functional and some items, even a little edgy. Everything has a natural, organic and effortlessly stylish and simple vibe. It is the perfect destination for anything from a customized handcrafted piece of wall art, an American made dining room table, to a set of high-quality tea towels with an embroidered, tongue-in-cheek seashore saying sure to be the topic of conversation in any kitchen.
The interior design services at The Spotted Whale offer a wide range of options, from refreshing just one room, to planning and designing an entire home. Pecora and her team love listening to the style preferences and inspirations of their clients, whether they have a Pinterest board full of ideas or are just getting started with one piece of wall art for inspiration. They cater to any budget and are happy to work with existing furnishings to create a new, comfortable yet familiar feel. “It was important for the designer to listen and take into account my feedback throughout the entire design process. They perfectly transformed my vision for the space,” notes a client of The Spotted Whale. She added of her experience with the design team, “I felt truly listened to, from budget all the way through the creative process. I also felt inspired to consider some new and unique ideas. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the final outcome of my beautiful, new beach home.” Anne agreeably added, “We’ve had the privilege of being a part of so many wonderful projects and met so many amazing people along the way. Good design should appear effortless, that’s much easier said than done.”
With the caliber of her work apparent throughout, Pecora prides herself and her team on listening to customers and their feedback. “It helps us reach our goal to make each season unique and different than the one before,” she notes. Anne’s true key to success she believes are the team of people who have worked so hard to help grow the business. The most important modus operandi she instills in her team is that the needs of the customer are the top priority. “This team is an extremely dedicated group of talented individuals who help every client with seamless customer service,” she notes. Many of their clients have been long-standing customers’ who they have a wonderful relationship with. “All our homeowners want to do is get to the beach and begin relaxing with their family and friends. We take our job and responsibilities very seriously and make it our day to day mission to get the job done and exceed our customers expectations. Often times this is accomplished before they even arrive at their home!” She adds, “I learned very early on in my career that you’re only as good as your team. Forty years later, nothing has changed and the same holds true. It takes a dedicated, loyal and hardworking team to make things appear seamless. I’m fortunate to have all those attributes in my retail store team members, design team, warehouse crew and delivery team.”
Not only is she a dedicated designer, but a compassionate and hardworking business owner always trying to figure out how to make the business better. She believes the success of her business is the byproduct of collaborative efforts of a fully committed team who truly understands the importance of good customer service. “I’m humbled by the hard work and long hours my team puts in 365 days a year,” she concludes.
Although The Spotted Whale has a modest 1,000-square-foot showroom in its first location at 16 West 19th Street in Barnegat Light at Viking Village, the new Beach Haven location at 500 N. Bay Ave is 3,000-square-feet, and offers more interior decor for your perusing pleasure. For more information login onto www.spottedwhale.com or visit their social media pages, facebook.com/
spottedwhale and @spotted_whale on Instagram.