Cottage Cache downtown offers delightful variety

Walking into Cottage Caché in downtown Hobe Sound feels as if you’re entering a fantasy world chock full of gifts, children’s clothes, and home décor. But there’s a difference.

Everything inside has a back story, each piece has been carefully selected, and everything reveals quality craftsmanship and impeccable taste. Every single gift. The only thing missing from the Palm Beach panache is the Palm Beach price tag. A full range of price points are present, from $3.25 to $1,600, with a dozen gifts or more under $20, and a dozen more under $50.

“My customers notice that,” she says. “They comment about it all the time.”

The displays are artful and spaces clearly defined in the four-room renovated cottage that once was someone’s home. Here are the crystal and silver accoutrements of a fine dining experience, here are the whimsical Christmas decorations of Patience Brewster. Over in the corner are women’s scarves, fine leather wallets and hand-crafted eyeglass cases in Lily Pulitzer’s happily infectious prints.

Over there are the Christmas stockings hanging from a mantel. Christmas décor of all kinds shower the shelves out front and perch cheerily on tables scattered throughout the building. Diane’s sense of humor shows through in golf towels embroidered with “Kiss My Putt,” and the Patience Brewster greeting cards, and the Weekend Waterford (plastic drinking cups).

Husbands should be on notice that she carries gorgeous jewelry, one-of-a-kind scarves, and she can find something for you that will surprise and delight your wife–even if you have no clue what to buy her. Perhaps the best part is the shop’s location. No mall, no traffic, no rude shoppers. Just drive a quarter of mile south of Bridge Road on A1A and walk in the door. Diane will stay late on Friday, Dec. 17, until 7pm—or as long as customers are coming in—especially for husbands who hate to shop, who want some help, or who just plain forgot that Christmas is here.

As many gifts as there are for women, though, it is children who command the largest room. It’s here that fantasies come true. A white, round baby crib sits center-stage dressed in hand-crafted bed linens with satin bows; the crib topped with bunny finials. It’s also available in blue or brown finishes, Diane adds, with your choice of two other hand-carved animal characters that perch on top.

The children’s clothes form a backdrop behind her. One side for boys; the other for girls. A grandparent would be hard-pressed to leave without purchasing something that’s just too adorable to pass up. There are embroidered onesies for $22, handmade dresses in Lily Pulitzer fabrics, hair bows, baby shoes, two dozen or more books. Perhaps the most stunning—as well as priciest—are the hand-smocked, handcrafted dresses, or the handmade christening gown, or the dupioni silk dress in dark green with an antique lace weskit perfect for making a little girl feel like a princess Christmas Day.

“I am very lucky,” Diane says. “I work with wonderful artists and suppliers who do just incredible work. And my customers, as they travel, they look out for things that they say are just so Cottage Caché. They buy them and bring them to me—can you believe that?—so I can offer them here.”

That variety is one of the keys to her success, she says. Since 2005 when she opened a 240 sq ft shop on Mars Street, she has increased her revenue each year. She has moved into larger quarters three times in five years. She must be doing something right, and she believes it’s because she’s always looking for something different, but something also that bears the essence of a Cottage Caché signature.

What she says soon is verified when Phyllis Finn of Hobe Sound stops by for a hostess gift. “I always get my hostess gifts here,” Phyllis says, “ and sometimes when I’m going by, I look at my watch to see if I have 15 minutes, just to stop and look, just to see what she’s got new. “Besides, I just feel good when I walk in,” Phyllis adds. “It’s a happy place, and truly it is a gift to Hobe Sound that she’s here.”

Diane says that she hears the “happy” comment often. “Maybe that’s why I like to be here,” she adds. “It is a happy place. I’m happy here, and I’m here all the time, even when the store’s not open.” Store hours normally are Tuesday through Saturday, from 10am to 4pm, but during the holidays, she’s also open on Mondays, in addition to her “Husbands Night Out” on Friday, Dec. 17.

Diane moved to the Treasure Coast in 2003 from Michigan after spending 28 years in management for AT&T, taking early retirement, then volunteering for two years with House of Hope in Hobe Sound, a nonprofit service agency. She says it was a “spur-of-the-moment” decision to open a gift shop here, but supported by her husband, who told her “Go for it.”

“When I think about it,” she says, “I can’t believe I did it.” Her customers, though, are glad she did.