‘Luxury dining in an alternative way’: Pop-up picnics make splash in Delaware, Eastern Shore
Delaware News Journal
Angela Camacho’s interior design skills came in handy when a friend asked if she could set up a pop-up picnic for Father’s Day last year.
With COVID still at its peak, she didn’t see a reason to say no.
“With the pandemic giving me so much extra time on my hands, I just said ‘what could go wrong?’ So I just went all in,” Camacho said.
After posting photos of the Father’s Day picnic she put together on social media, she was flooded with private messages from people asking how they could book their luxury picnic.
Now Camacho owns the small business Shore Picnics and does luxury pop-up picnics for people throughout the Eastern Shore, commonly setting up date nights on the beach.
Luxury pop-up picnics became popular during the pandemic as people looked for safe ways to gather and enhance the outdoor gathering experience.
Pop-up picnics keep the blanket concept but offer a bit more flair with decorations, pillows and fancy dinnerware. While most of the business offer food as an add-on, the meal is not the focus of the picnics — the perfect-for-selfies luxury e.
The idea for these picnics started on the west coast. But thanks to TikTok, the trend found its way to Delaware and Maryland.
‘A beautiful moment for special people’
When people reach out to Camacho, she asks for the person’s vision as to what they want and she does her best to execute it. From date nights to small gatherings, she can accommodate just about anything and customize it to whatever the customer’s needs are.
Camacho said she gets a lot of people wanting to set up date nights on the beach. She also has done a backyard movie night.
Depending on what the customer decides, the set-up typically includes dinnerware, a blanket or small table and decorations based on the theme.
“You get to enjoy the outdoors and just set up a beautiful moment for special people. And they just get to enjoy something different,” Camacho said. “People don’t have to be crowded in a restaurant. They can be outside and still experience the luxury dining in an alternative way.”
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Shore Picnics also offers customized picnic boxes that could include cheese, crackers, fruit and other snacks.
Based in Easton, Maryland, most of Camacho’s customers have been on the Eastern Shore serving mostly Cambridge, Easton and Oxford, but she will travel farther depending on the size of the picnic.
Right now, Camacho does all of the planning and inventory by herself. She would like to eventually partner with other companies as her business grows, but she wants to stay small for now.
“I am a big DIY-er, so I do things a lot on my own. I have fun creating and figuring things out by myself,” she said. “It’s the first job that I have ever had that I have enjoyed doing. The styling and decorating is just really fun. You get to play around with different ideas and different looks all the time.”
‘It doesn’t really feel like work’
Yamila Lopez and Michele Grussemeyer started Delaware Picnics in February after they saw a TikTok of a luxury pop-up picnic in California. When they saw no one in Delaware had started a similar business yet, they began ordering inventory for their own picnic business that same day.
Lopez liked decorating her home and Grussemeyer liked planning her kids’ birthday parties, but neither of them had any previous professional experience in party planning or interior decorating.
“When [Yamila] approached me with it, I thought it was a great idea,” Grussemeyer said. “We just went with it.”
Delaware Picnics can create a two-hour picnic for different sized groups, from two to 12 people. They handle set up and clean up, so people only have to worry about showing up.
Their picnics typically include blankets and assorted pillows, a small picnic table, table decor, dinnerware, a game basket, a Bluetooth speaker and choice of water or sparkling cider. From there, people get to decide the location, the date, the theme and any other add-ons they might want.
They even will help with a marriage proposal.
“I like that I am able to be creative. It doesn’t really feel like work because i get to decorate, I get to spend time with friends,” Lopez said. “I get to be creative, and I like coming up with different themes and ideas.”
Delaware Picnics partners with two businesses in the Wilmington-area: Cute In Charcuterie for their charcuterie box add-on and Moonloop Photography for those who want professional photos taken.
Delaware Picnics only sets up in Delaware, mostly state parks in the northern part of the state, but that hasn’t stopped people from traveling to get one of their baskets. They have had people travel in from Maryland and New Jersey, they said. And recently, they had a couple come from New York to picnic in Delaware
“We try to make it personal to them. We try to mix it up and make it as special as we can,” Grussemeyer said.
‘Exciting to see people happy’
Another luxury picnic business found its way to Delaware thanks to .
After seeing the trend on a couple social media platforms, Shewit Tequabo and Siam Fisaha, who are both nurses, started First State Picnics in March.
Their business formed when they started having picnics with their families as a safe way to gather during the pandemic.
“We wanted to celebrate some accomplishments within the family. We had some engagements, graduations — and we couldn’t really do them indoors comfortably,” Tequabo said. “It became very popular for all of our occasions, so we thought, ‘Why don’t we share this with everyone going through the same struggles?’ ”
First State Picnics is based in Wilmington, but they have traveled to New Jersey, Philadelphia and throughout Delaware.
They will set up a luxury picnics for group from two to six people, where people can choose from their packages that includes the blanket and table set up, beverages, games and a charcuterie board — which they get from the Wilmington business Luxe Charcuterie.
Tequabo said cheese and s’more boxes also have been a popular add-on with their customers
While they have predetermined packages with themes — such as Dusty Pink or Rustic Boho — Tequabo and Fisaha encourage customers to customize their picnic so their experience feels unique and special to them.
Tequabo feels the concept of picnics often has been associated with dates. But she likes that the luxury picnic business has defied that norm. So far, they have gotten a lot of requests for birthdays, baby and bridal showers or other small gatherings.
“Seeing people finally being together — friends and family, and even seeing our own family again — has been such a privilege and just really exciting to see people happy,” Tequabo said.
First State Picnics has focused on outdoor picnics for now, but as it gets colder, they are planning on finding ways to set up safely in people’s homes.
“Nothing really stays stagnant, so we are always finding ways to make the concept stay the same, but making little differences so we can explore the concept in different ways,” Tequabo said.
‘Kind of like an adventure’
Dana Hall always loved planning events, especially smaller ones. So she started setting up picnics in her backyard for fun. But then one day, she thought about how she could this for more people.
In February, she launched her luxury pop-up picnic business Lushnics.
“A lot of people at the time [of the pandemic] were nervous about going out, so if you want to celebrate your significant other, and you don’t want to go out. I can bring the luxury to you,” Hall said. “You don’t have to go out. I can bring my luxury, my experience to your home without you leaving or being exposed to anything.”
Hall works as a part-time assistant to an event planner, planning about four to five events a year. And those skills have been helpful when coming up with ideas for her customers.
She has a couple themes and packages to choose from, including “Black & Tanics” (decor in “shades of black and tan with hints of cream”) and “Pridenics.” And to customize, you can pick add-ons, such as a live flower walls, desserts, a blush-colored loveseat or a champagne wall.
Her picnics can be romantic, but they also can be customized for baby showers, birthday parties or anything else a customer can imagine. She plans to add options for children’s parties, as well.
While she is based out of Saint Charles, Maryland, — about 30 miles south of Washington, D.C. — she will travel anywhere that her customers ask her to go, she said. She has had clients in Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C., and has traveled as far as North Carolina.
“This business to me, is kind of like an adventure for me because it opens me to new places, different experiences. I really love what I am doing,” she said. “It makes them happy, and it bring them sunshine, especially right now.”
Are pop-up picnics here to stay?
While this trend started during the pandemic, business owners think this trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
“COVID has become very unpredictable, [and] … globally, we just had to be very creative the way we do things and the way we have fun, the way we communicate,” Tequabo said. “We definitively see this trend becoming a long-term way of just having fun with people.”
Even as the nation begins to return to some normalcy, many of the business owners think people will still enjoy the option of this different way of dining and planning parties.
And many of the businesses already give the option for people to have their luxury “picnics” set up indoors, so the trend can continue through the cold-weather seasons.
“It’s just something different that people are always going to want tot treat themselves with,” Camacho said. “Outdoor dining is nice, but when you take that extra step and make it this beautiful, casual event either at a beach or at a park, it’s always going to be something special.”
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