Posted Discovery Bay Press: Thursday, April 3, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 2:12 pm, Thu Apr 10, 2014.

By Pati Lucido Gonsalves

Three generations – Linda Freeman with daughter Jessica Souza and her two children Madelyn and Jacob – welcome visitors to Madelyn’s, a gift and apparel boutique at the Boardwalk Marina.
Photo by Pati Lucido Gonsalves

Every town has its little secrets, and Discovery Bay is no different. This secret, however, is one to be shared. Nestled on the outskirts of this quiet water-based community is a surprising family destination.

The Discovery Bay Boardwalk Marina is moored at the heart of the town’s harbor entrance, touted as the Delta’s “Most Prestigious Marina.” Host to a variety of shops that include apparel and gifts, boating accessories, yacht sales, a Delta cruise line and a popular waterfront restaurant, visitors to the Boardwalk Marina are greeted by majestic masts of resting vessels and a serene sense of freedom.

As residents anxiously await the return of Discovery Bay’s tropical-like weather, Boardwalk storeowners are preparing for the next wave of seasonal visitors. Madelyn’s, a gift and apparel boutique, is one of 10 businesses aligned along the inviting covered dockway facing the calm waters of the marina inlet.

Linda Freeman and Jessica Souza, owners of Madelyn’s, are getting a jump-start on the summer crowds. Following a recent expansion, Madelyn’s is hosting a grand re-opening and ribbon cutting for the business community on Thursday, April 10 at 5:30 p.m., followed by a Saturday, April 12 open house featuring drinks, goodies and some great giveaways. “We outgrew our previous location,” Souza said. “We moved everything next door and now have twice the room.”

Madelyn’s, named for Jessica’s daughter, opened for business in 2011. Primarily a women’s shop, the family-owned boutique grew quickly and now offers men and children’s clothing, logo apparel, sun-protective clothing, gifts and even decorative surfboards. “We cater to the Discovery Bay lifestyle,” said Souza. “We carry everything from eighth grade dance dresses to the more mature woman in sizes 2 to 3x.”

According to Souza, Madelyn’s doesn’t worry about competing with the ‘box stores’. “We are very competitively priced and offer a personalized shopping experience that you don’t find much anymore,” she said. “We consider our customers when we buy, and they know to come here first to find what they need.” Souza added that her cell phone holds many of her customer’s numbers.

Madelyn’s is surprisingly well-stocked, and due to the recent increase in floor space, popular new lines have been added. “We now have Desigual, a bold European style from Spain,” noted Souza, “and it’s been selling out.”  Other top-selling name brands include Jessica McClintock and Brighton. “People who know Brighton really follow it,” explained Souza. “They have a great quality product from their jewelry to handbags, sunglasses, shoes and belts. We have one customer who actually has a Brighton closet.”

While the Brighton line has a “huge following,” Jessica McClintock has a special place in Freeman’s and Souza’s life. “She is my aunt,” Souza said. “I used to work for her, right out of high school. I started in the wholesale side of merchandising and worked hard to advance to Vice President of Merchandising and Marketing for 40 stores.”

Freeman and Souza come from a long line of entrepreneurs. “I was brought up to work hard, to do what I know,” said Souza. She recalled working in her grandmother’s dress shop as a little girl, writing receipts. Freeman was a partner in a car dealership in Maine and owned a rental car franchise.  Retiring after 30 years, Freeman moved to Discovery Bay, but it wasn’t long before she and Souza felt the urge to do what they know.  The decision to open shop on the Boardwalk Marina didn’t come easily.  “To be honest, we didn’t even know this existed,” said Souza. “The location has been a challenge and an asset.” Noting the convenience of plenty of parking, the covered walkway and the beauty of the area, Souza said many customers were surprised to know that shops even existed at the marina.

The Boardwalk Marina boasts a unique blend of businesses, all complimentary to the lifestyle of Discovery Bay residents and weekend travelers, and the waterfront destination is attracting more families and weekend visitors.

“It’s becoming a couples’ place to spend an afternoon,” said Souza. “There is something here for everyone. The wives get to come shopping, the husbands can look at boats, and then they can have a great meal at the Boardwalk Grill and take a walk out to the beautiful lighthouse.”

The Boardwalk Marina is also popular for its many events, like the Big Cat Poker Run in August and the Lions Club Summer Concerts. This May, the first Discovery Bay Triathlon will be held at the marina.

So it seems the secret is out. Come out to the Boardwalk Marina; dine, shop and stroll; and say hi to Linda and Jessica. “It’s been so great,” said Freeman. “We just love the customers and all the new people we have met.”

“It’s the part we love most,” Souza added.

Madelyn’s is open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., and weekdays – excluding Tuesdays – from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit them on Facebook or call 925-628-8574.