From hospital to apartments, stores, offices and over the past 16 years Coronado Beachwear, the Spanish architectural building at 1111 Orange Avenue, nestled between McP’s Irish Pub and Bank of America, has had a diverse history since its construction in 1910. .
Its rich past includes Coronado Court, which has been touted as “elegance concentrated in a living apartment with porches for sleeping”. In 1926 Dr Arthur and Dr Harry Wegeforth opened a medical practice, then in 1927 it became the Coronado Emergency Hospital with 14 beds and five cradles. The building was also converted into the Hadley Hall Apartment Hotel and was mainly rented to commissioned Navy personnel for $ 3 per day. It also housed the famous Bayberry Tree gift shop for 20 years and was briefly the Coronado Cove restaurant, followed by the Sports Emporium until 1994 when it became a real estate office.
Coronado Beachwear opened 16 years ago and is run by Chang Hee and Eun Hee Ahn. Building owners and landlords, Carroll and Linda Gerbel, say they have been diligent and dedicated tenants to the business over the years. Their store offers a wide array of Coronado and beach themed merchandise and clothing. You’ve probably stopped with visiting friends in search of tourist souvenirs. The store is currently offering a closing sale to clear inventory before it actually closes at the end of the month.
We reached out to the Ahns to get a glimpse of their business and their future.
What made you decide to open Coronado Beachwear?
I had been working for a long time, but my goal was to run our own business, so we took this opportunity.
What are your best-selling products? Has this changed over the years?
The “CORONADO BEACH” printed t-shirt and hoodies have always been the best-selling item. They are very popular with tourists.
What changes have you seen in the community since opening?
For 16 years, I have watched many businesses disappear and new ones are created.
COVID has obviously affected your business, has business picked up and has this influenced your decision to retire?
2020 has been a very difficult year for business operations due to the COVID pandemic. The store was closed for four and a half months. Luckily our landlord, the Gerbel family, lowered the rent which helped. However, we have always feared becoming infected with COVID when running our business and believe the uncertain future of the COVID-19 resurgence has influenced our retirement.
Do you have any favorite memories from working in the store?
I think Coronado is now the hometown of our hearts, and we see many tourists from different places and countries every day, I was really grateful that the Gerbel family treated us with kindness.
What are you planning for retirement?
After our retirement, we want to visit my parents and family in Korea to share the feelings that I miss. We plan to travel to various places and live happily.
The historic building has been in the Gerbel family since 1988. With deep roots in the community, Carroll and Linda Gerbel married here at the Navy Chapel in 1964, vowing to someday return to Coronado to make it their home. After 20 years in Michigan, the family was able to make this dream come true, having grown their business, University Blanket and Flag, which they started in their basement. Their children attended CHS, Brad graduating in 1988 and Lisa in 1991. Both now work in the family business, which has offices upstairs in the building, and has helped it grow steadily. exponentially and now the company is currently a product licensee, representing over 650 schools.
“We are excited about the possibilities of a new business in town,” says Lisa. Retired real estate agent and family friend of the Gerbel family Dawn Nguyen commented, “We know everyone supports a local business. This is such a large historic building, close to the Del and the tram stop. Coronado Beachwear has been part of the fabric of Orange Avenue for many years, but we are excited about the continued history of this beautiful building. She noted that she has already received interest in renting space from a number of companies. Coronado bids farewell to Coronado beachwear.