The Story Behind Delaware's Only Remaining Irish Shop
Irish Rose Gift Shop in downtown Milford is the last of its kind.
For years, Wilmington native Eugenia Sparks and her husband Tom traveled to Irish festivals all over the East Coast, where they sold an array of handcrafted Celtic glassware, children’s clothes and decorative items.
But during Milford's annual Bug & Bud Festival in April 2012, their goods caught the eye of a local official. The opportunity to become a permanent part of the Milford community soon arose.
Eugenia and Tom planned to open their own Irish shop on N. Walnut Street in November 2013. In May 2013, just six months shy of the shop's opening, Tom passed away. Irish Rose Gift Shop was named in memory of Tom, a romantic who often gifted his wife red roses for anniversaries and birthdays.
Eugenia's store—now the only all-Irish, Celtic-themed store from Wilmington to Fenwick Island—sells crafts made in Delaware and Pennsylvania, as well as items from all over the country. Much of the merchandise even comes from Ireland and Scotland.
Eugenia is also involved in the New Castle County Irish Society and the Irish Society of Delmarva. “I love supporting our local societies and donating items they may need,” she says.
A large portion of the shop's clientele is retirees who shop regularly for authentic Irish and Celtic gifts. The most popular items are made by Belleek Pottery Ltd., an Irish porcelain company, and Waterford Crystal. Other bestsellers include Inis Patrick cologne, infant clothing, plaques, calligraphy pieces and glassware.
The shop is busiest the week before St. Patrick's Day and the week before Christmas. Eugenia recently launched an online-shopping option on her website. (Available items will be limited at first, but more will be added throughout the year.)
Eugenia hopes her business, like the surrounding area, will continue to thrive. “Milford is really growing," she says. There’s a master plan, and it’s going to be great."
Irish Rose Gift Shop
42 N. Walnut St., Milford
Hours: Tuesday–Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; closed Sunday and Monday