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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


For TaDa, business all about family

(Dec. 1, 2016) Twenty years ago Patty Falck marched into her husband’s office on Williams Street in Berlin. She had good news, bad news and really bad news, she told him.
The good news was she was going to open a shop. The bad news was she was going to open the shop inside his office, and the really bad news was she wanted to be open in 30 days.
Steve Falck, at the time a custom home builder, happily obliged, moving his office to the rear of the building and helping in any way he could, including building many of the shelves and fixtures.
The shop, called TaDa, opened on Black Friday in 1996 and at the time mostly sold Falck’s hand-painted furniture and glassware.
“He was so easy going. He said, ‘What do you need me to build and when do I start?’” Falck said. “Within those 30 days, I painted morning, noon and night just so we could have enough stock to put in.”
She also came up with the one-of-a-kind name, because Falck “was trying to think of something that represented what I wanted people to think when you came in.”
“I wanted a name that would be remembered,” she added. “And I am so glad and so happy to this day that we are still ‘TaDa.’”
The store has always been a family affair that reflected the design sensibilities of the women who ran it, which now includes both of Falck’s daughters. All three women exhibit boundless energy and a knack for balancing dozens of different things at once.
Falck is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and formerly taught art at Worcester Preparatory School. She also ran an advertising agency in Ocean City and created works of art from reclaimed wood.
Born in Baltimore, she spent summers in her youth on the shore and met her husband, a California native who was stationed in Washington D.C. with the U.S. Air Force, near the ocean when she was in her 20s.
Her youngest daughter, Brooke Hahn, is a schoolteacher who coaches lacrosse, helps in the shop during breaks and collaborates on art projects with her mother and big sister, Blair Parsons.
Parsons, who now owns TaDa, said the signs were clear early on that she would eventually take over the family business.
“I was 3 years old and my dad built me a beautiful, handmade dollhouse – and I never owned a doll for the dollhouse,” she said. “I just rearranged the furniture and filled it with accessories.
“Also, I was born on Black Friday,” Parsons added. “I was definitely fated for this.”
She majored in art at the University of Richmond and worked at TaDa during summers. Although she minored in pre-law and political science and assumed she would end up in law school, she experienced an epiphany while on a family vacation in Puerto Rico that would change all of that.
“After I graduated from college, I said I can’t do this – I’m not a cubicle person,” Parsons said. “And so opened my own store at 23 in Rehoboth.”
Dubbed “Blair Elizabeth,” the shop served as a second location of TaDa.
Three years in, however, her father was diagnosed with multiple system atrophy, a rare and incurable neurological disease. He died in 2013, but not before spending a good deal of his last four years with family close by.
“It was an easy choice to come back to Berlin,” Parsons said. “I knew that I wasn’t seeing my family enough, and that if I came back to Berlin, I’d get to see him more. It was the best decision I ever made.”
Around that time, in 2009, a space became available at 18 North Main Street. Again, there was a one-month turnaround time between packing up the stores in Rehoboth and on Williams Street in Berlin, and opening up the new TaDa on Main Street.
“The funniest thing is that our friends, who owned Candy Kitchen, generously leant us one of their trucks, so we were loading up a Candy Kitchen truck in Rehoboth and pulling up in Berlin. And people were like, ‘are we getting a Candy Kitchen?’ ‘Sorry, no,’” Parsons said.
Moving the rest of TaDa from one corner of Berlin to another took about two days and consisted of a series of moving trucks that perpetually ran in a circle around town.  
Parsons designed the new space and her father built many of the interiors. Five walls were knocked down to create an open space in what had formerly been a grocery store and a bank, among other things.
The result was a blend of the daughter’s design sense and aesthetic, and the mother’s original artwork and handmade pieces.
Growing up, Falck kept a studio adjacent to the girls’ bedrooms. She joked that a certain amount of osmosis must have occurred through those walls.
“It was always around and we grew up doing craft projects and painting,” Parsons said. “I was an art major and my sister was artistic and my dad, without any of us knowing for years, was very artistic. It’s just kind of in our blood.”
When the new location opened in the fall of 2009, it was an instant hit.
“The difference of being on Main Street was huge,” Parsons said. “We were always very lucky and successful, but we didn’t know what we were missing until we moved here.”
“It was a huge increase,” Falck said. “It’s difficult, like in any town, to get the shops off of the Main Street and I tried [everything] for years.”
Because of that, both women say they still encourage customers to explore the other shops on Williams, Pitts, Broad and Bay streets.
“We know how difficult it was,” Parsons said.
Business continued to boom in 2014, when Berlin was named “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Travel Magazine.
“It was awesome. We still hear people say they’ve been vacationing in Ocean City for 30 years and never even knew we existed,” Parsons said. “People from the Delaware beaches have been a huge shopping crowd, and I think it’s because of things like the free parking and the easy access to the town. Even during events, [the town] does a good job of making it accessible to people.”
Falck said what ultimately made the downtown area a success was the diversity of the shops and the generally agreeable nature of the business owners – about 80 percent of which are women.
“I think we all work for the greater cause and we realize that we help each other out,” she said. “If we don’t have something here we’ll tell them to go down to NEST, or go to Sisters or wherever. We want people to continue to come here.”
Parsons said that sense of togetherness was not something she experienced in Rehoboth.
“In Berlin, I feel like the attitude is if one succeeds we all succeed,” she said. “We’re all in this together and let’s make this a better town. The more successful the town is the better it is for all of us.
“And the stores are so unique – you’re not walking around on the street and seeing the same thing in every store and that’s why people like coming here,” Parsons added. “They know they can find an antique and something new and something handmade and something gourmet or whatever it is. I think everybody does a good job of supporting each other and encouraging each other.”
Next Saturday, Dec. 10, TaDa will mark its 20th birthday with an all-day celebration that will include specials, giveaways and refreshments.
Two decades in, both Falck and Parsons said they have no plans to change the nature of the operation.  
Hahn continues to accompany her mother to demolition sites, armed with “crowbars and sledgehammers” and searching for reclaimed wood for arts and crafts projects.
“We look like gypsies going down the road with chairs and pieces of wood strapped to a trailer,” Falck said with a laugh.
“If you walk into her garage, my dad would be very proud,” Parsons added. “There’s still a line of his surfboards and some of our old bikes, but it’s just a complete woodwork shop. I walked down there Saturday morning and she’s in her mask with sawdust everywhere, making a picture frame.”
Parsons, meanwhile, continues to rearrange the dollhouse, filling it with various pieces of furniture and accessories.
“We like being the destination where people come in and say ‘I knew I could come here and find the gift I was looking for.’ I just want to continue to be that for people,” she said. “We have things you don’t find in mall or at the outlets – things that are special and unique. To try to be that for the area is pretty cool.”
Falck said it is “an absolute blessing” to work with both of her daughters.
“They were so supportive of Steve and I through all the struggles we had with his health and still are to this day,” she said. “He would be – and he is – so proud of them.”
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