Rockablue Makes Its Debut


 In Rockaway, new businesses open and old ones close. It’s not often that one makes a comeback. Those who remember Clothesliner on Beach 116th Street can take a trip down memory lane and those craving a new place to pick up a cute, unique outfit, will be happy to know there’s another option in Rockaway. Israel Waks is back and has started anew with Rockablue.

In 1976, Israel Waks took a chance on bringing fashion to Beach 116th Street. “It was a fluke. I met a guy selling Indian blouses and picked up some stuff at a flea market and I took a spot on 116th, and when I opened, everyone loved it. I was buying dresses in August to sell when most stores would be getting rid of that stuff, but it was summertime in Rockaway,” Waks said. Clothesliner filled a need on the peninsula, offering quality clothes at affordable prices. That gamble that Waks took, would carry him through 2009, when he closed Clothesliner due to personal reasons, and moved to Florida.

However, Rockaway called him back, and Waks wanted more than retired life had to offer. “I felt like I wanted to do something with my time. You feel alive when you’re doing something,” he said. Then a spot at 114-13 Rockaway Beach Blvd. gave him the opportunity to bring fashion back to Rockaway once again.

Waks signed a lease and built out the boulevard spot within 10 days. This time, he wanted to give it a new name. “I didn’t want to call it Clothesliner. It had its ups and downs and it was too old fashioned, so I wanted something that would click with people and let them know where we come from,” he said. So he called it Rockablue, paying homage to the place where he got his start—Rockaway—and the color of something many in town love—the ocean.

Rockablue officially opened on Saturday, February 22, once again offering unique styles for women, at affordable prices. “Fashion is my love. We carry unique stuff. We don’t carry basic stuff you can find at any store. We have 250 to 300 styles, and about 25 styles of shoes, plus bags, sunglasses, necklaces, scarves, earrings and more,” Waks said. The clothing will appeal to anyone from teenagers to older women looking for a contemporary look, from junior sizes to extra-large. The styles range from unique, vintage pieces to current trends. After more than 40 years of experience in the fashion world, Waks has a knack for choosing pieces that will speak to women. “I can tell when I hang the stuff if it’s right or wrong,” he said. New pieces will be added each week, so every time a shopper comes in, they may have a chance to see something new.

And the best part? The price points. Before Clothesliner closed, women could grab a nice piece for about $20. More than a decade later, the prices haven’t changed much. “The price is comfortable. All clothes range from $15 to $30,” Waks said.

“I’m not doing this to make money,” Waks explained. “I’m doing it for a cause, to come out and feel good about yourself for doing something. I just want this to be another place where people can have fun, come by with a bike or pass by and maybe something will catch your eye. It’s a place where you can just come and look and have fun.”

As word spreads that Waks is back, the new shop has been drawing women in to take a look and to see an old friend. On Monday morning, one return customer was beaming with enthusiasm over having a piece of the Clothesliner back in town. “Look how nice everything is! I’m so happy to have a cool little place to come to again. This is exactly what I wanted for my son’s graduation,” she said, holding up a pair of baby blue pants. “I’m so happy you’re open again, we need this kind of place here,” she told Waks.

For Waks, that reaction served as reassurance that opening a new place was a good choice. “Seeing women like this, being so excited for clothes, makes me happy. I must have done something right back then for her to come in and have that reaction,” he said.

Waks says he hopes to see more of that as he settles in to his new location. “I want people to come in here and be overwhelmed. I like to see people get excited. We’re all humans and we can all use some cheering up,” he said.

Rockablue is located at 114-13 Rockaway Beach Blvd. Current hours are 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, but hours may change. To reach the shop, call 347-834-4725.

 By Katie McFadden