Fly High with Ocean City’s Favorite Kite Store | RTX Traveler Magazine

One of the most iconic sights on the Ocean City beach is the colorful display of kites soaring above the sand just north of the boardwalk. Like beacons guiding ships to the shore, these high-flying wind catchers will guide you to the Kite Loft, an institution in Ocean City for more than 35 years.

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In the early 1970s, Bill Ochse happened upon a man selling kites from a cart during a trip to San Francisco. He was inspired to open the Kite Loft in 1975, and subsequently became known around town as “King of the Wind.” By 1978, the then-governor of Maryland named Ocean City the “Kite Capital of the World,” surely inspired by Ochse’s shop.

The original shop was in a small space off the boardwalk, but by 1984, the Kite Loft moved to a larger space in its prime location on the boardwalk and 5th Street. Ocean City draws visitors from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond, and many of them are seeking a unique beach experience. The variety as well as the sheer quantity of kites sold at the Kite Loft became the perfect place for beach goers to frequent.

166623784With up to 350,000 visitors to Ocean City on any given summer weekend and plenty of local shoppers in the spring and fall, the Kite Loft has no shortage of customers looking for a unique souvenir. The store’s online sales increase during the holiday shopping season and in early spring as people start to plan ahead for their summer fun.

The energetic and dynamic personality Ochse exuded contributed to the shop’s success as well, and when he and his wife Mary found partners in Jay and Mary Lynn Knerr in the early 1980s, the business continued to grow substantially year after year. When the Ochse’s retired, the Knerr’s took over to continue the tradition of keeping Ocean City’s skies colorful and fun. The Kite Loft now has a second store in Ocean City at the 67th Street Town Center.

“We still manage to provide one of the most unique and fun shopping experiences in Maryland. We have earned that reputation by providing outstanding customer service and a hands-on shopping experience,” said Jay Knerr, current owner.

As with many beach towns, Ocean City has plenty of small souvenir shops that tend to sell the same products as one another. This is where the Kite Loft stands out. Not only do they offer unique quality products, but the interactive displays and colorful décor help the shop to naturally be noticed by passersby.

“There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t hear from a customer saying, ‘we just love your store.’ You know you are on the right track when generations of families keep returning to your store each summer,” said Knerr.

Knerr’s customers always leave the store with smiles on their faces. Whether it is the awesome kite show they put on the beach with their displays every day, the friendly and knowledgeable staff, the cool products or the entertainment of the in-store displays, your Kite Loft shopping experience is sure to be like no other.

92239322Kite Festivals

While kiting is popular with locals and visitors throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons in Ocean City, two of the country’s largest kiting events happen here each year, each drawing hundreds of participants and thousands of spectators.

The Maryland International Kite Expo (MIKE) is held on the last weekend in April. If features the Mid-Atlantic Sport Kite Championships which draws competitors from all over the world. 2014 date: April 25

The Sunfest Kite Festival is held the third weekend in September. This festival features giant kites such a 100-foot-long long blue whale, 80-foot-long gecko and other sky creations. Less about competition, this festival is fun for families to join in and have a great day flying kites. 2014 dates: September 18 – 21

CONTACT
511 Boardwalk
Ocean City, MD 21842
(410) 289-7855
www.kiteloft.com

 

 

 

 

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