By Michele DeLuca email@example.com
Niagara Gazette — It all started with a walk on the beach.
Marcia Nachreiner was with her husband Michael, walking cautiously though the dark, moonless night. Trying to hold a flash light, a drink and her husband’s arm all at the same time, she wondered whether there wasn’t a better way to take a romantic beachfront stroll.
The next weekend, during a family trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake, her son, David, a soldier newly returned from Iraq, admired some star-shaped strands of lights in a holiday store. His father immediately purchased an armload of the lights simply because David liked them. When the family returned home, they darkened the house and switched on the twinkling stars.
“Sitting there in the dark, a light went on in my head,” Marcia recalled. “I placed one of the beautiful star-shaped lights between my toes and at that moment the Beach Bright Flip Flop was born.”
The idea kept her up at night and she pretty quickly consulted with the two engineers in her family. Her niece, Brandi Golimowski, and her brother, Joe Simon, helped her design a flip flop with a lighted medallion that could survive the elements at the beach. The flower-shaped medallions are now being sold with the flip flops or separately.
As a North Tonawanda resident, Marcia was able to get help from the Lumber City Development Corp., which provided her with a state-funded start-up grant, as well as some small business training and other support. A spokesman for Lumber City said her business was exactly the kind they wanted to assist.
“We’re always interested in creating opportunities for new products,” said Michael Zimmermann, planning and development coordinator for Lumber City. “The final decision (to give her the grant) was not just that she had a good idea but that she had a sound plan to make a successful business.”
Since then, Marcia’s company has become a family affair. Her husband Michael does the marketing, her adult sons Daniel and David help with production, and the rest of her family have helped at every opportunity.
Golimowski, her niece, is the design engineer for Beach Bright, and helped her aunt design the flip flops.
“The challenge was finding the right parts that not only look beautiful but work appropriately,” said Golimowski, who is also plant manager at Stollberg Group in Niagara Falls.
After appearing in two international beach trade shows in Florida, Marcia has sold Beach Bright Flip Flops to a number of major beach hotels, including the Don Cesar in St. Pete Beach, Fla., and the Ritz Carlton in St. Thomas. The purchasing manager for five of the retail shops in the Don Cesar chain, Julie Hicks, said she wore a pair of Beach Bright Flip Flops to a party on the beach in St. Pete one recent weekend.
“I cannot tell you how many people stopped me and asked me about them,” Hicks said.
“They’re so cute,” she added of the flip flops. “People just love them.”
The flip flops are being sold locally at Hock’s Flower Shop in North Tonawanda and Capello’s Salon in Amherst, and the company has also just signed a contract to provide flip flops exclusively to an online site, www.erevolutionventures.com.
“It’s been a challenge to bring a product to market,” Marcia said. “But, it’s been a very exciting journey.”
“My dream is that I’m walking a beach one night,” she added, “and I see all these lights coming toward me, from people wearing my flip flops.”