Seaside Retailer - January/February 2023

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THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE FOR BEACH, COASTAL AND NAUTICAL RETAILERS | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2023 seaside retai ler BEACH | COASTAL | NAUTICAL STOCKUPFORTHEBEACH! Hotnewproductsforthe 2023beachseason,p.26 FOR SHOW AND REGISTRATION INFO, TURN TO PAGE 82! NEW DATES! JAN. 22-24 COASTAL Connections CONFERENCE + Inside: 36 Souvenir displays that sell 46 Lake and freshwater styles 62 Resortwear trends to follow Frenchy’s Off the Hook Gift Shop is giving Clearwater, Florida vacationers and locals another reason to visit the famous restaurant. appetiteFOR RETAIL AN


Product Focus: A better day at the beach

26 Fun, comfort, safety and style are big for 2023 beach goods.

Presentation: Success with souvenirs................................. 36 Give souvenir sales a boost with these effective display tips.

Product Trends: What the lake lovers like 46 Lake product trends are embracing the laid back lifestyle.

Navigate markets like a pro

Style Trend: Forces of fashion

62 Innovation, quality and versatility influence fashion trends.

Starfish Award: Sunshine State Goods 98 Florida-based store and brand is helping fellow Floridians.

56 Make the most of in-person and digital markets.
EDITOR’S NOTE Don’t underestimate your value.
RETAIL NEWS Check out Pantone’s 2023 Color of the Year.
TAKING STOCK Elevate the in-store shopping experience.
CUSTOMERS COUNT Learn how to set expectations for your workers.
EVENTS CALENDAR Make plans to attend these future industry events.
EVENTS COVERAGE Coverage from past and upcoming industry shows.
Find out what your store doesn’t need more of.
In Every Issue 6 8 10 12 82 84 92 94 96 26 46 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023 | VOLUME 4 | ISSUE 1 16 Check
the Coastal
to learn what is trending at top
retail destinations. PAGE 70 98 The Coastal Connections Conference is Jan. 22-24. Learn more at!
is known for its food and unique gifts. p. 16
PRODUCT SHOWCASE Fresh merchandise ideas for your seaside store. AD INDEX Easily locate an advertiser’s ad and website.
FOR RETAIL Frenchy’s


Karen Carr

Publisher & Creative Director 330-591-2575

Kristin Ely

Executive Editor & Conference Director 858-684-7744

Don’t underestimate your value

This past November, my husband, my almost 2-year-old son and I flew to Oahu for our first family vacation just the three of us. It was also our first time visiting Hawaii. When we finally arrived at our hotel after a long flight, we couldn’t wait to drop off our belongings and throw on our beach clothes and head to the beach, just a few blocks away.

And despite all my preparations, I had forgotten one essential beach item — flip-flops. Thankfully, a few yards from our hotel, one of the local ABC Stores sold a range of flip-flops in multiple sizes, styles and price points. I found exactly what I was looking for and slipped my cute new flip-flops on my feet before I even left the store. What a relief!

While on our island adventure, we spent one afternoon visiting Waikiki Aquarium. My son was so excited to see the colorful tropical fish, jellyfish, turtles, coral and especially the sharks swimming inside the ginormous tanks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy! His huge earto-ear grin and excited shouts as he ran from exhibit to exhibit was something I didn’t want to forget anytime soon. Lucky for us, the small gift shop inside the aquarium helped us accomplish that goal. We found something for the whole family: a shark figurine for my husband, a Waikiki Aquarium tank top for me, and a shark plush toy and shark book for my son. Now back home in San Diego, when I see any of the aforementioned items, I remember how happy my son was and it takes me back to that special memory.

As a seaside retailer, it can be easy to forget what an important role you play in enhancing the experience of the visitors who come into your stores. Maybe like my family, this is the first time they’ve been to your town. They aren’t sure when they will be coming back, but they know they want to remember those precious moments.

Perhaps they are repeat visitors and just want to pick up a gift for a family member that they can’t get back home, or you might just be their lifeline when the essential beach item they need (swimsuit, sunscreen, sunglasses, a towel or flip-flops) was accidentally forgotten.

Don’t underestimate your store’s worth to the many people who come through your doors each day. Sometimes we get caught up in the daily grind, but it is important to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and really appreciate your role in making their time at the beach the best it can be.

Jamie Winebrenner Sales Manager 330-269-5875

Katie Turner Sales Manager 219-206-1140

Kelly Rosaaen

Circulation Manager Nicole Wisniewski

Product Editor

Tom Borg Columnist

Natalie Tan Columnist

Cathy Donovan Wagner Columnist

Kristen Hampshire

Contributing Editor

Mary Elizabeth Williams-Villano

Contributing Editor

Jeanne Larsen

Administrative Assistant

Christine Welman

Website Development

Bob Thompson

Business Advisor

Seaside Retailer is published six times a year by: Breakwall Publishing LLC 3593 Medina Rd. #117 Medina, OH 44256 800-764-5302

Subscriptions and address changes: Seaside Retailer magazine P.O. Box 7216 St. Paul, MN 55107-7216

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Entire contents copyright 2023 Breakwall Publishing LLC. All rights reserved. Materials in this publication may not be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

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First Guy Harvey Academy of Arts and Sciences opens

The first-ever Guy Harvey Academy of Arts and Sciences has been officially established at Anna Maria Elementary School in Bradenton, Florida.

Representatives of the Guy Harvey Foundation, the art, gift and apparel brand’s education and research foundation, have been working closely with the School District of Manatee County to develop an art, math and science-based curriculum to educate and engage young students on the importance of preserving our oceans and marine life while learning about the world’s environment.

The collaboration between the district and GHF will begin this school year with development of a K-5 curriculum that will include a special aquarium to be installed at the school.

Maryland gift shop takes home two business awards

A Maryland gift shop has taken home two prestigious honors from a local news outlet, The Shore Update. Ophiuroidea — known as “The O” — was voted Best Business in Grasonville, Maryland, by readers, and it’s owner, Kim Hannon, was given the Best Boss Award.

“We are known as a great place to find unique gifts, locally made art, jewelry and home decor,” says Hannon, who opened the shop in 2009 with locations in St. Michaels and Kent Narrows, Maryland.

“I was so grateful for the community’s support, but having my employees vote for me as Best Boss was even more special and made me proud to be their boss,” Hannon says, adding that she creates a work environment that is positive for employees and customers.

Wild Republic, an international toy company lauded for its 40-plus years of giving back and supporting various humanitarian, environmental and animal charities, has announced the relocation of its U.S. corporate headquarters from Twinsburg, Ohio, to Independence, Ohio.

The move to a larger, more modern space at 7711 E. Pleasant Valley Road, comes as the company has seen tremendous growth with innovative, groundbreaking and environmentally friendly products. To mark the occasion, an official ribbon cutting ceremony was held Nov. 29, 2022, Giving Tuesday, an International Day of Generosity which encourages organizations to do good and give back to their communities.

It’s fitting that the company would celebrate its grand opening on Giving Tuesday. This year it has earmarked close to 18,000 plush that will be distributed through local Rotary Clubs to several different agencies in Independence, Ohio, that care for children in distress, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, food banks and foster care organizations.

“To ring in the relocation, as well as this year’s Global Day of Giving, we wanted to make sure we are giving back to the community we are now a part of in Independence, Ohio, and are honored to have Mayor Gregory Kurtz in attendance as our special guest,” says Vishnu Chandran, CEO of Wild Republic and grandson of the company’s founders. “Our relocation coinciding with Giving Tuesday is just another reminder that giving back to our community and the world we live in is a main pillar of our company and will continue to be in the years to come.”

Founders G.B. and Kamala Pillai have funded several animal sanctuaries and rescue organizations throughout the world and began an orphanage for young girls in India to have a home. Since 2002, Wild Republic has partnered with The Audubon Society to help sustain natural habitats for wild birds throughout the United States. In 2022, Wild Republic partnered with Planet Water, a nonprofit organization focused on alleviating the global water crisis by bringing clean water access and water health and hygiene education to the world’s most impoverished communities.

Viva Magenta is Pantone 2023 Color

of the Year

Pantone, a global color authority and provider of professional color language standards has announced its 2023 Color of the Year, Viva Magenta (Pantone 181750). Pantone describes Viva Magenta as “a shade rooted in nature descending from the red family and expressive of a new signal of strength. Viva Magenta is brave and fearless, and a pulsating color with exuberance that promotes a joyous and optimistic celebration, writing a new narrative.”

Leatrice Eiseeman, executive director, Pantone Color Institute, says, “In this age of technology, we look to draw inspiration from nature and what is real.

Pantone 18-1750 Viva Magenta descends from the red family, and is inspired by the red of cochineal, one of the most precious dyes belonging to the natural dye family, as well as one of the strongest and brightest the world has known. Rooted in the primordial, Pantone 18-1750 Viva Magenta reconnects us to original matter. Invoking the forces of nature, Pantone 18-1750 Viva Magenta galvanizes our spirit, helping us to build our inner strength.”

The color will influence design; apparel and fashion accessories; beauty; home decor; packaging and multimedia design.

Wild Republic celebrates new headquarters, donates plush to children in need
From left to right: Dave Grendel, vice mayor of Independence, Ohio; Vishnu Chandran, Wild Republic CEO; Gregory Kurtz, mayor of Independence; G.B. Pillai, Wild Republic founder and chairman.

Seaside retailers can’t take this surge in travel for granted. They will still need to stay on top of their game.

Elevate the in-store shopping experience

The pandemic brought about a profound change in how people shop. A McKinsey & Co. study revealed that 75% of shoppers adopted new ways to buy, including e-commerce. And 75% of those surveyed are continuing to purchase this way. Fortunately, visitors and tourists are still doing in-person buying as their thirst for travel and exploring new destinations has only grown since the lockdowns were imposed almost three years ago. Thus, 2023 looks to be an overall positive year for destination and travel retail. But seaside retailers can’t take this surge in travel for granted. They will still need to stay on top of their game. These four strategies can help solidify and maximize potential gains this year.

just in to browse, they’ll be back in soon because you’ve left a lasting impression.

2Creating experiential shopping. One surefire way to encourage customers to buy now is to ensure that your displays are enticing and include more than one item. Displaying merchandise by stories, themes or colors automatically creates buying impulses that don’t happen online. Touching and holding items creates a feeling of ownership and brings products so much closer to buyers.

Retail consultant Natalie Tan helps businesses develop unique blueprints to drive sales. Contact her at:


Service beyond expectations. Many shoppers don’t expect more than a greeting, so approaching them once they show interest in an item is a great way to engage. Share information with them on the product they pick up. Is it locally made? Is it created by an artisan? Does it come in different colors and sizes? Is it currently priced at an excellent value? From there, a conversation can easily follow. You may find that once the conversation starts, the shopper opens up about items they are looking for. Or if they’re


Providing omnichannel shopping. When a retailer creates an atmosphere that delivers a locational experience, shoppers want to take that same feeling back with them. As a seaside retailer, you have the advantage of beautiful and scenic surroundings coupled with friendly hometown service. Make sure your customers want more of that feeling when they return home. Let them know you have an online presence and give them an incentive to buy from you again.

4Offer shipping services. One of the limitations of travel retail is the space it takes in one’s luggage to bring back purchased items. Provide easy shipping solutions for shoppers who may be unable to lug back the products they want to buy.


Many times, the reason employees don’t perform properly is because they don’t fully understand how they are supposed to behave.

Set expectations for the desired results

Iwas consulting with one of my small business clients recently and she explained to me how some of her new employees “just didn’t get it.”

Didn’t get what? I asked? She replied, “One of my employees comes to work late on a regular basis. Just the other day, this employee waltzed into the office at eight minutes past 8:30 a.m.”

I asked him why he was late, and his response was, ‘I got here at 8:30 a.m.’”

Apparently, the employee had pulled into the parking lot at 8:30, but by the time he finished drinking the rest of his super-sized soft drink and eating his bag of chips, it was several minutes later that he arrived at his workstation. As far as he was concerned, since he was parked by 8:30 a.m., he was “on time.”

PROBLEM: EMPLOYEES DON’T UNDERSTAND EXPECTATIONS. One of the biggest mistakes I see gift shop owners make today is not providing orientation for new employees.

The reason this employee didn’t know is because the company or organization failed to inform him. Improperly reprimanding employees for something that was not properly explained to them can be a real demotivator.


One way to prevent this predicament is to have a structured orientation program for all new employees. Explain to them that the only dumb question is the one they don’t ask. Your job is to make sure they understand and are able to meet their job requirements.



Are your employees able to perform as expected? Even though employees understand what they are supposed to do, they may not be suited to particular jobs.

Tom Borg is a retail consultant, speaker and author of “True Small Business Brilliance.” Contact him at: 734-404-5909

Do your employees understand how they are expected to perform? Many times, the reason employees don’t perform properly is because they don’t fully understand how they are supposed to behave. They don’t know what they can do and what they can’t do. Often, an employee will find out what he or she is not supposed to do only after it’s done.

For instance, a greeter at a restaurant needs to be people-oriented and able to interact effectively with customers who come through the door. If that person is shy and introverted, it’s likely he or she will fail in that particular position. Similarly, if you have an employee who is expected to do inventory and he or she has trouble doing basic math, you could be in for a disappointing job performance. Screen your applicants carefully. They’ll be glad you did ... and so will you.

From Frenchy’s themed items to work by local artists and artisans, there is no lack of interesting finds at Frenchy’s Off the Hook Gift Shop in Clearwater, Florida, which has been managed by Peggy Branner since it opened in 1997. Photos: Aaron Lockwood

Frenchy’s Off the Hook Gift Shop is giving Clearwater, Florida vacationers and locals another reason to visit the famous restaurant.


appetiteFOR RETAIL

Visitors and locals to Clearwater, Florida, who want a good bite to eat flock to one of Frenchy’s restaurants. But for more than two decades, the lure of gifts, souvenirs, T-shirts and local artwork have given patrons and shoppers yet another reason to walk through Frenchy’s colorful doors.

Peggy Branner has served as the manager of the restaurant’s landmark gift shop, Frenchy’s Off the Hook Gift Shop, for the last 22 years. After all these years, she’s got no plans to slow down anytime soon. Not even a broken wrist, which she is healing from, can keep her away.



Branner grew up in Portland, Maine, moving to Clearwater in 1972. Eventually, she found her way to a budding entrepreneur’s first restaurant. “I was a waitress at the original Frenchy’s Cafe starting back in 1981,” she says.

Frenchy, whose real name is Michael Preston, hails from Quebec, Canada, where the nickname comes from. In 1981, he opened Frenchy’s Original Cafe, known for its Super Grouper sandwich. Since then, his empire has expanded to include five more Frenchy’s restaurants, a fishing boat fleet, a motel, a surf shop

and other non-Frenchy’s-branded restaurants.

By 1997 Branner had become the cafe’s manager. But after 20 years there, she found herself approaching 50 and wanting a change. Her boss had plans to develop the duplex next door, and the idea of opening a gift shop was tossed around.

“I’d always wanted to do a gift shop,” Branner recalls. Soon, a 1,000-square-foot building next to the cafe was converted to a retail space, and on Christmas Eve 1997, the doors opened.

The owner had so much confidence in Branner that “he gave me ‘carte blanche’ — put me at the helm and let me do what I wanted,” she says. “We started out just selling T-shirts for the restaurant, but then we added all the unique, very coastal gift items.”

Preston’s decision paid off. “She was a natural fit, with a good eye for casual, beachy, eclectic items, and she had good taste,” he says. “I felt confident that this was right up her alley, and it turned out I was right.”

Going from restaurant work to retail was a bit of an adjustment, but she made it. According to Branner: “Restaurant work is great; you get good tips. Retail, though, allows you to be a little bit more creative.”


Not being on a main drag is usually a big disadvantage for a gift store, but not for this one. “I’m off on a side


street, tucked away, off the beaten path,” says Branner. “But we have the advantage of the captive audience from Frenchy’s Cafe next door. People know where we are, and we get a lot of repeat customers.”

Last year, Frenchy’s Off the Hook Gift Shop turned over about $1 million.

As for the competition, “I have none,” Branner says. “There are no other stores like mine in the area. There are some specialty surf shops, but none of them offer the kind of things that I do.”


Indeed, the store has moved far beyond the days when all it sold was Frenchy’s logo T-shirts and hats. A shopper can find Dune and 4Ocean jewelry, Tervis and Corksickle insulated bottles, Allen’s Clocks (wall clocks with mermaid and crab motifs), Betsy Drake pillows, beach supplies, picture frames, coffee-table books about marine life, and Frenchy’s logo apparel and trademark hot sauce.

“We also have a cute kid’s section

with coastal-themed toys and games that’ll keep the kids entertained while they’re on vacation,” Branner says. “And a pet section with beach-themed collars.”

A Christmas palm tree stays decorated all 12 months “because I sell ornaments all year long,” Branner says. “They’re all coastal-themed: sea life animals, palm trees, pineapples.”

High-quality goods from companies with high ideals such as Dallas-based Fahlo, are also offered in the store. Each semiprecious-stone Fahlo bracelet comes with the name, story and picture of a real endangered animal, such as a sea turtle, penguin or shark.

The buyer can then “fahlo” its movements on an interactive map. If you buy one of the sea-turtle bracelets, 10% of the profits go to the Sea Turtle Conservancy. “I like carrying those kinds of things, it makes me feel good,” says Branner.

Frenchy’s sells coastal-themed toys and games to entertain kids on vacation.


Trade shows have been invaluable in helping Branner find stock. She attends Surf Expo and Atlanta Market every year. “That’s where I see my sales reps,” she says. “I work with a lot of really good ones very closely.”

But of all the merchandise in the store, Branner is proudest of showcasing work by local artists and artisans.

“There’s Edmund Frechmann, a local artist who does beautiful watercolor prints of our restaurants,” she says. “Ron Gebauer from St. Petersburg makes manatees and sea turtles out of recycled tin, and Jan Chalmers, also from St. Pete, hand-paints exquisite wine glasses with manatees and palm trees.”


Branner’s display style leans towards the warm and eclectic eschewing traditional store fixtures for real furniture. “I started out using orange crates, standing them

Finding synergy

Frenchy’s Off the Hook Gift Shop, Clearwater Beach, Florida, and Frenchy’s Cafe next door cross-pollinate each other nicely. The line-out-the-door popularity of the Frenchy’s eateries assures a steady flow of customers into the shop. Show a receipt from any of the Frenchy’s restaurants and get 10% off of anything in the store.

Locals can also get a 10% discount with proof of residence, says Peggy Branner, the shop’s longtime manager.

A special promotion drives still more traffic into the shop: “Frenchy’s Passport to Paradise Cocktail Challenge.” Patrons can earn a free Frenchy’s Cocktail Challenge T-shirt or tank top by visiting all four Frenchy’s Clearwater Beach locations, ordering their signature drinks and getting their “passports” stamped.

Once someone gets all four stamps, they can come into Off the Hook and claim their free shirt. Holders of a completed passport also get 10% off anything else in the shop they want to buy.


on end, doubling them up and making shelves out of them,” she recalls. “A lot of our furnishings are just recycled stuff that was given to me. Somebody gave me a hutch, so we painted it and put that in a corner. Someone else built me a long showcase; we distressed it, made it beachy looking.”

Large scales used to weigh fish add to the nautical vibe. “We got them from the guy who used to run our seafood company,” Branner explains. “We painted them a pretty blue and they’re hanging with the kids’ stuffed animals in them.”

Even the flooring is recycled, made from discarded plastic bottles. “It looks just like weathered, old-looking wood. It’s not cheap to get this stuff, but it just lasts forever and ever — we’ve had it for over 20 years now.”

All of this gives the shop a funky dockside atmosphere, but at times there

Her twin daughters from a previous marriage are 50 years old and live in North Carolina where one of them owns a wine shop.

Now 74, the store manager says she sometimes thinks about retirement — but that’s as far as it goes. “You’ve got to keep busy and have a purpose,” she says. “Besides, I love my job.”

What does she love most about it? “Probably the buying,” she replies. “I still get excited seeing new products.” And she says she has no problem being on her feet all day. “I’m a young person inside,” she says as she jokes, “I’m a ‘spring chicken’ in my 70s, but I feel 50.”

There is one aspect of the job Branner admits she’s not crazy about, though. “Managing employees,” she says. “That’s the hard part, hands down. I’ve got a pretty good staff; the ones I have now, they’re friggin’ amazing — but I need

Frenchy’s Off the Hook Gift Shop

can be too much of it; it’s a constant battle keeping shore out of the store.

“We try to leave our doors open,” says Branner, “but we’re right by the beach, and I swear there’s a layer of sand on everything everywhere all the time.



Branner has been married 26 years to a man who owns a dry-cleaning business.

a couple more, and they’re hard to find right now.”

To other coastal retailers, Branner says, “I know that it’s difficult and there’s lots of competition out there. There are lots of great stores like the ones you see in SeasideRetailer. I just try to have unique merchandise, cool artwork and a friendly staff. That’s the strategy that works for me.”

Recycled furnishings showcase items for sale at Frenchy’s Off the Hook Gift Shop.
“I just try to have unique merchandise, cool artwork and a friendly staff. That’s the strategy that works for me.”
— Peggy Branner,



Every beach town has at least one store where beach-bound customers stop on their way to the ocean to stock up on beach essentials. Third Coast Beach Co. in Port Aransas, Texas, is among the stores that carry those last minute items beachgoers don’t want to hit the beach without.

“We’re considered a surf, beach, souvenir store,” describes manager Cali Orban. “We carry all major surf brands as well as soft tops for surf boards. We carry skimboards. We have a beach section where we sell beach toys, goggles and stuff like that, and we have a small souvenir selection as well.

For customers hitting the beach, there are a few staple items that get purchased time and time again. “They mainly buy

boogie boards, and then we have beach toy sets like pails and shovels. The kids want to catch a wave on the boogie boards and they also buy beach balls and sand toys and stuff like that.”

The larger pail-and-shovel sets do better at the store because “if you have a lot of kids, you can use it for all of them,” explains Orban.

Third Coast also sells a fair share of beach bags — from totes to straw bags, netted bags for carrying shells, purses and fanny packs all from the major surf brands.

The Neso beach shade is also a popular beach product that Third Coast recently started carrying.

According to Anna Goldberg, Neso COO and creative, “Sun protection is becoming a necessity for beachgoers.

We also see growing demand for beach furniture that is sleek and easy to use.”

Neso offers its beach shades in four sizes as well as chairs, a beach table and a beach adventure tote with accessories. Its best sellers include the Neso Grande beach shade, “perfect for a group of four to six people.”

“They’re portable, lightweight and easy to set up. They are UPF+50 and recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation,” notes Goldberg.

Sun shades aren’t the only sun blocking instruments people are bringing to the beach. BeachBub USA carries a lightweight beach umbrella system with specialized accessories like a tray table system, flag pole accessory and sun visor “to make your day at the beach more enjoyable and safer,” explains Michael

Fun, comfort, safety and style are among the features beachgoers are looking for when they hit your store on their way to the shore.
Beach treasure seekers young and old are finding success with Sand Dipper’s line of beach combing products.

1 | Anchor Works: Anchor and classic umbrella bundle,; 2 | Rockflowerpaper: Save the Oceans Blu Towel,; 3 | Jarrells: Looking Good flamingo towel,; 4 | Sunnylife: Thermal-lined cooler bag,; 5 | Phoozy: Apollo II + antimicrobial insulated phone case,; 6 | Malibu Beach Gear: Hands Free Tote in red and white,; 7 | GCI Outdoor: SunShade Recliner in seafoam green,; 8 | Sand Dipper: Find beach treasures with the Sand Dipper,; 9 | BeachBub: Tray table system,; 10 | A to Z Towels: Colorful, aluminum folding beach stool,; 11 | Neso: Neso Grande tent in tropical print,

your customers
their best day
with trending products.
BUYS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Schermerhorn, CEO, BeachBub USA.

“Our beach umbrella system is our best seller and provides many features which our customers love. The umbrella system is easy to transport to the beach and can be set up in minutes by almost anyone,” he says.

The flag pole accessory provides an easy way to identify your position on the beach so kids playing in the water or running up and down the beach can always easily find their umbrella.

“Beachgoers are realizing that there are higher quality products in the marketplace that make their day at the beach easier, more enjoyable and safer, and going into 2023, they will continue to seek these products out,” Shermerhorn says.

New to the beach umbrella scene is Anchor Works. The company offers The Anchor, a beach umbrella stabilizer made of lightweight material with a patented design that includes a bowl at the base, which restricts the umbrella from blowing away. The company also carries the

Classic Beach Umbrella. Both product lines have five variations of unique colors: dark blue, light blue, green, orange and yellow.

And it has some even cooler products in development. “In 2023, we hope to introduce our new Market Style Beach Umbrella, as well as a 28-watt, solar-powered USB charging port that attaches to the top of your beach umbrella and allows you to charge up your phone, speaker, etc. while enjoying your day at the beach,” says Annieva Conlon of Anchor Works.


Mr. John’s Beach Store in Folly Beach, South Carolina, carries a wide selection of beach chairs, umbrellas, blankets, beach towels, soft coolers, boogie boards, floaties, toys, footballs and frisbees for its beachgoing clientele.

“Out here on Folly, we don’t do Styrofoam, so we carry the soft coolers,” says owner Paul Chrysostom. He orders them

from one of his major suppliers and they fold flat and provide insulation.

People don’t want to spend a ton of money on beach totes at Mr. John’s, so beachgoers can pick up a tote for only $10 to $20 to lug all their beach gear in.

Sunscreen is by far the store’s best-selling beach accessory. “I began selling Land Shark in 2022, and I’ve always had Australian Gold, but the last few years Sun Bum has become very popular,” Chrysostom says.

Beach towels are also a big seller, and in recent years the beach blanket has been popular, particularly the Baja Mexican style. “They’re comfortable. People like them. They are actually something they can use at home, too,” he explains.

Chairs also sell well, but the last couple of years have been challenging, according to Chrysostom, due to supply chain issues. “I am hoping that in 2023 prices might go down,” he says.

GCI Outdoor has been a go-to chair brand for many beach, coastal and nau-


tical retailers. It’s Sunshade Recliner has continued to be a best-seller since the product was launched as part of GCI’s Waterside line in 2016.

“Customers love the SunShade Recliner because of the unique comfort

features included in the chair. From the rotating SPF SunShade for more (or less) sun coverage to the Pocket Pillow that turns the carry bag into a headrest, this is an ideal chair for those looking for a more comfortable beach experience,” says GCI spokesperson Amy Newton.


Jarrells has been supplying stores with the latest beach gear for over 45 years. Sales manager Dale Tucker says, “We carry everything, including chairs, umbrellas, towels, swimsuits, skim boards, straw hats, etc.”

The company’s customizable, printed, straw lifeguard hats are a hot item as people are increasingly interested in protecting themselves from sun exposure. Name drop tumblers are also a big seller as a reusable, insulated option for beachgoers with sustainability in mind. “These two products are in high demand,” he says.

The company has also introduced a new line of men’s and unisex swim

trunks and matching shirt/short combos.

Sunnylife is a summer lifestyle brand created in Australia in 2004, established with a simple goal: to share Australia’s authentic summer style with the rest of the world. The company’s offerings include a range of products from iconic pool floats, beach accessories and outdoor games to kid’s swim accessories.

“We are most recognized for our pool floats that come in a variety of trendsetting designs,” says Jamilia Williams, U.S. head of sales. “Our customers are huge fans of our Luxe Lie-On Rose Float, as well as our Luxe Lie-On Campervan Float. We love that our customers can choose a Sunnylife float that speaks to their personality.”

The company has a fun new product in store for 2023. “We are bringing back our popular Underwater Cameras in four new colorways. They’re a fun throwback in that they take 35mm film, plus they’re submersible, reusable and are perfect for capturing moments at

GCI's popular Sunshade Recliner appeals to customers looking for comfort.

the beach or pool,” Williams says.

A new tilting mechanism for its Lux Beach umbrella in 2023 and new colorways for the company’s range of picnic cooler bags will also add some function and fun to a beach day in 2023.


“One bag for many adventures,” is how Malibu Beach Gear is marketing its initial beach product, the Hands Free Tote. It has a design patent for its unique features, which include towel clips and straps, a built-in pillow, large dry pockets and a waterproof thermal-lined pocket to keep drinks cool.

“Customers specifically like the builtin features of the bag that make packing for a visit to the neighborhood pool or trip to the beach/lake easy and convenient,” says inventor Chris Dowell, who is president of Malibu Beach Gear. “Some customers like the detachable lounger pillow, while others like the towel clips to keep their towel in place.”

The Malibu Beach Gear Hands Free Tote will make its TV debut in the spring on QVC. The bag was a winner in QVC’s nationwide “Big Find” competition.

“The MBG bag was quickly identified as a bag with a lot of retail appeal and value as it combines multiple products together to make life easier for consumers,” Dowell says.

Tech protection is also gaining traction with the beach going crowd. Phoozy introduced its products to the coastal crowd during the September 2022 edition of Surf Expo.

“We started with phone protectors, which is migrating to other forms of tech protection,” says company spokesperson Jade Schwarting. A tech organizer, laptop case and can cooler are also among the company’s offerings.

The technology used in the products are borrowed from NASA. Phone cases range from the lightweight Apollo to the medium grade Apollo II and more rugged XP3. “They do a great job at preserving your battery life and giving you that extra protection you might want as well,” says Schwarting.


Footwear for the beach is another area making strides in innovation. Floafers are foam shoes with rubber bottoms that make great beach or pool shoes.

Sunnylife is bringing back the underwater camera in 2023 as a fun throwback.

“All of our shoes are odor-resistant, as well as antimicrobial, making them extremely easy to clean after a long day at the beach or pool. They are also all water friendly and have traction that makes them ideal for slippery surfaces or wet areas,” says the Floafers team in an email. "People love our shoes so much not only for the style but for how comfortable they are. We've created a shoe that can be worn from the board room to the beach.”

Another innovative footwear brand, Flopeeze, features an ankle hole that when snuggly adjusted to the foot, helps keep Flopeeze securely attached to your feet during a high degree of activity such as running on the sand.

The specially formulated rubber is flexible enough to mold around your foot, thin enough to provide a minimalistic barefoot experience, and thick enough to provide plenty of protection from hot sand, coral/shells in shallow water, campsites and back-beach trails, according to its website.


As people are looking for more features in their towels, the Blu Towel from Rockpaperflower checks many boxes. They are made from recycled plastic bottles, are sand resistant, lightweight and quick drying, plus they roll and fold compactly.

“Take them to the beach, pool, camping, yoga, picnics and more. They are super-absorbent, quick-drying and repel sand. Lightweight and far less bulky than a traditional beach towel, they make the perfect fold-and-roll companion for traveling,” says Katie Shillinglaw, president and creative director. And there’s more. “Our versatile eco-beach towels are reversible. Get two great prints with one great towel.”

Another towel brand, Luv Bug, has found “retailers are looking for on-trend



designs and colors that their customers will love. In addition to style, retailers are looking for towels that offer additional functionality, in addition to drying off.”

Luv Bug’s sunscreen towel fits that bill. Not only does it block 98% UV rays, it is compact, quick-drying, cooling and sand free.


The beach isn’t just for swimming and sunning. Sand Dipper carries a range of products to help make beach combing, finding and collecting beach treasures more fun and enjoyable. Products in the Sand Dipper line include Sand Dipper poles in multiple sizes, shell collecting bags and a shelling fanny pack.

“Retailers and customers love the quality (anodized aircraft aluminum poles with stainless steel hardware and baskets) that lasts for years of beach combing and saltwater use,” says Gordon Beckhart, president and chief beach comber. “Customers love that they find treasures with no back issues. They have a great time discovering beach treasures and sharing their discoveries.”

As for trends Beckhart sees in 2023, he says,“The beach has been a great escape for all of us over the past few years with the unfortunate concerns about crowds with the pandemic. I think many of us rediscovered the meditative and relaxing nature of simply spending time at the beach, wandering, beach combing and listening to the waves. Well-made beach products for a more mature, yet kids-at-heart customer are in higher demand.”



Amemento of a trip to a special place; that’s the textbook definition of a souvenir. It can be anything from a simple rock to a smart Spartina handbag. Souvenirs can be magnets, keychains, T-shirts, insulated cups or other items, often emblazoned with the name of the place visited. A majority of seaside stores carry at least a few such items along with their regular stock.

Michael Hale, CEO, founder and creative director of Los Angeles based consulting firm, Retail Rehab LLC, says he discovered how valuable these “little” items can be to one’s bottom line back when he owned a retail store. “I had a $6 coaster that produced $20,000 a year in sales,” he says.

“I tell that story to entice owners of businesses to take a look at their sales statistics and understand what their drivers really are. It may not be the $200

throw or the $60 sweatshirt. Sometimes it’s those $6 items that produce more volume than anything else.”

The trick to moving these souvenir items is how they’re displayed.


Many seaside store owners station their souvenir displays right by the store entrance or in the front window so that shoppers looking for mementos can see that they’ve come to the right spot.

Such is the case with Flamingo Jim’s, Rockaway Beach, Oregon. It’s the kind of colorful roadside spot with whimsical statuary outside that people on car trips up the coast find hard to resist — especially when kids are on board.

“Our main sign outdoors says ‘Gifts, Clothing, Souvenirs,’ says manager Laurel Schriber. “In the windows, we’ve got kites and some other random little signs and things. When you walk in the front door, you’ll see our taffy. There are

also a couple of racks and shelves on our counter where we display finger puppets, nail files and stickers. We usually put stuff outside on our deck in baskets when the weather is nice."

The store stocks a wide variety of clothing with “Rockaway Beach, Oregon,” “Oregon Coast” or “Pacific Northwest” on it. “Our best-selling items are the clothing — sweatshirts mainly — and toys,” says Schriber. The sweatshirts range in price from $28 to $60, depending on the quality. “The kids go for the toys and the adults buy the clothing.”

If none of that fills the bill, the store has shot glasses, mugs, snow globes, stickers, keychains, magnets, insulated drink cups and trinket boxes that say “Rockaway Beach, Oregon,” or “Flamingo Jim’s” on them. Souvenir items are distributed throughout the

Photos above: Furniture is used as fixtures to display mementos at Gifted by the Sea. 36 SEASIDE RETAILER JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2023 PRESENTATION
Creating well-thought-out displays can give souvenir sales a boost.

3,000-square-foot shop with other items. “It’s a full store, but we use our space well,” she says.

Should you keep all the souvenir items together in one spot or distribute them throughout the store, as Flamingo Jim’s does? Hale suggests: "If you have the room, multiple locations are best. Have a spinner by the entry to entice customers, another spinner by the check-out area for impulse buys and one larger fixture


Distribute souvenirs throughout the store, not just in one location.


The fixture at the check-out area should always feature your tried-and-true top-selling items.


Arrange fixtures first by theme, then by category.

in the ‘dweller’ area of your store for the more in-depth shoppers. The fixture at the check-out area should always feature your triedand-true, top-selling items.”

In Vero Beach, Florida, 100 yards from the Atlantic Ocean, sits Corey’s Pharmacy and Souvenirs. It’s a place where one can get a prescription filled and get some nice mementos too. The store’s motto: “If Corey’s doesn’t have it, you don’t need it.”

The souvenir items are shelved along the store’s walls, while the middle aisles house drugstore goods.

“The owners have been doing this for 67 years,” says Lori Clark, who manages the non-pharmacy part of the store. “And it works.”

Clark says a lot of souvenir business flows to the store because of its competition. “Most of the other shops on the

street are higher-end boutiques,” she says. “We have very reasonably priced items compared to those other shops. Tourists go there, then can come in here and buy a T-shirt for $25 and lots of other souvenirs that are under $10.”

Magnets, picture frames and coffee cups with “Vero Beach” on them are hot items. Insulated cups festooned with turtles, palm trees or mermaids are big sellers too. “We’re all about the turtles here,” says Clark. “We have one of the biggest nesting grounds along the coast.”

Flamingo Jim’s groups mugs, shot glasses and related items.

One might think souvenir sales would take a back seat to the drugstore operations. Not so, according to Clark. “It’s 50-50. Souvenirs account for half our profits.”

Rose Lucia owns Gifted by the Sea, Brant Beach, New Jersey. The 3,000-square-foot store stocks jewelry by Pandora, Kendra Scott and Dune, along with clothing and home decor. Lucia eschews traditional store fixtures for the most part, preferring to show off her merchandise on real furniture.

“My store is broken into two sections. When you walk in the door, you’ll see the jewelry, clothing and accessories. On the other side, I have the Long Beach Island sweatshirts plus the home decor and baby departments.”

Items with a map of the island are among the stores’ most popular souvenirs. It can be found on mugs and insulated wine tumblers, platters and wall art saying, “Welcome to Our Beach House” or “L. B. I. is My Happy Place.”


How best should one group souvenir items? Should it be done by theme with complimentary items shown together?

keyrings in the middle of each side and the larger souvenirs toward the bottom of each side. “The other option is to place all the categories together — i.e., all the

Hale says, “Ideally, you’d want to arrange a fixture by theme first, category second. If you have a three- or foursided fixture or spinner, each side may present a different theme. Spinners work well to allow for multiple themes and hold a good amount of inventory in a small footprint. Three- and four-sided gondolas with mixed hardware like shelves, pegs and acrylic bins allow you to feature multiple categories by theme per side.”

For consistency, Hale says you may want to put all the postcards at the top of each side of the fixture or spinner, the

keyrings on one side of a fixture and all the postcards on a separate side or even a separate fixture.”

At Gifted by the Sea, Lucia displays jewelry on branded spinners or on fine-jewelry display forms. Elsewhere, she groups souvenir mugs together.

Corey’s displays triple-milled soaps and matching candles together. “The candles have the same scents as the soaps,” says Clark. Near them are locally made Key West Aloe lotions.

At Flamingo Jim’s, “We’ve got all of our adult clothing on one side, and the kids’ clothing in another section,” says

“Spinners work well to allow for multiple themes and hold a good amount of inventory in a small footprint.” — Michael Hale, Retail Rehab

Schriber. “There’s a toy section and a table where we display our mugs and shot glasses all together. The snow globes are grouped together, too.” Magnets are so popular that they have several displays. Coastal-themed items — jars with sand

and seashells and turtle figurines made out of wood and resin share shelf space.


Travelers often hunt for gifts for people back home. Hale suggests making it easy for them by looking for opportunities to cross-merchandise souvenirs with other items that would make nice “go-withs.” For example, pair apparel with coordinating accessories and put mugs and glassware adjacent to specialty foods.

Lucia does this by creating “vignettes” or stories around her souvenir items. “Charcuterie boards are a big thing now,” she says. “We have one that is decorated with the compass coordinates of Long Beach Island. We’ll show that board with things that you could package with it like some jams and a spreader.”

She says, it makes for a nice presentation, so you’re not just handing somebody a thing with Long Beach Island on it. “It’s a whole gift package that makes it look like you spent a lot of time thinking

about it.” But it’s Lucia who’s done the thinking for you.

Corey’s gets a lot of business from locals. The store carries the entire Royall Lime line of men’s fragrances, after-shave splashes and body soaps made in Bermuda. “People say this is the only place they can find these products,” says Clark.

The packaging of these products practically screams, “Gift me!” The bottles, which have colorful old-timey labels, are created out of handmade glass from the original clay molds and come wrapped in parchment with a wax seal.


Hale says, “A good rule of thumb for floor fixtures is that they are not taller than 54 inches so the clerks in the front can see over them and keep tabs on what’s going on in the store.”

As for lighting, Hale says he would never tell retailers what kind of lighting they should have, as they usually have to work with whatever fixtures came with

Grouping coastal-themed items entices shoppers to browse at Corey’s Pharmacy.


the space. However, he says “good lighting is important everywhere in the store and especially for this category.”

At a store loaded with kid appeal, it should be no surprise that toys sell well at Flamingo Jim’s. Schriber keeps the motto, “Eye level is buy level” in mind when setting up displays for her shortest customers.


If a certain item is a big customer favorite, it deserves a prominent and attractive display that helps sell even more of it.

One of Gifted by the Sea’s top sellers is Dune jewelry, particularly the items containing sand from different beaches. “Many of my customers come in just for the Dune items,” Lucia says, “and not just people on vacation, but people who live here.” She decided to give the jewelry its own branded glass case — “actually an old Pandora case that I converted over. It’s a good setup. The case has its own corner, so everyone who comes in passes by it.”

Another special display, a lighted glass etagere, holds wine glasses etched with “Long Beach Island.”

She believes in the power of scene-setting to move product. “Especially with the home decor items, I want people to get an idea of how they or whoever they’re buying it for could use the item — I want them to say, ‘Wow, this is something so-and-so always mentions she needs or wants,’ and here it is.”

Lucia puts emphasis on attractive seasonal displays. “The women who work for me are really great at setting up tables for whatever time of year it is,” she says.

Clark strives to keep Corey’s Pharmacy and Gifts’ displays fresh with new and creative ways to show things off. In honor of her efforts, the owner bought a new slatwall-and-baskets unit just for the Turtle Tracks collection, popular with souvenir-seeking kids and their parents.

“That was my Christmas present,” laughs Clark. “Now all the books, stuffed animals and T-shirts that go with them are all very nicely shown off together. It’s a much cleaner and better look overall.”

Has the new display helped increase sales of the Turtle Tracks products? “Oh, yes,” says Clark. “Absolutely.”

Lucia has some advice for other seaside retailers with regard to creating effective presentations of souvenir items. “Displaying them well is key,” she says. “It makes things look more upscale than simply lining everything up in a row.”

Clark’s advice is: “Be fair in your pricing. People will buy that much more, appreciate the value and come back.” And they do. In her seven years at the store, she’s recognized a lot of repeat customers who come back year after year.

With a little effort, you too can create winning displays that will entice your tourist customers to take a little bit of your beach community back home with them.

“A good rule of thumb for floor fixtures is that they are not taller than 54 inches so the clerks in the front can see over them and keep tabs on what’s going on in the store.”

What the LAKE LOVERS like

Aquiet lake town has always been a draw for people who need a break from hectic city life. The pace beside a lake is slower. Vacationers are surrounded by nature, wildlife and outdoor activities. Whether people want to swim, fish, lounge, grill, hike or even ice skate, lakes are year-round playgrounds for active and easy living.

Making lakeside memories that last a lifetime is the mission when escaping to these shores. But coming up with ways to remember those times and savor those special moments is a big goal of lakeside vacationers. Seaside retailers are looking for ways to boost their lake products to meet this need and wholesalers have plenty of ways to help them succeed.

“We see the lake market as a growing opportunity for our lakeside customers,” explains DeVon Miller, director of marketing and e-commerce with wholesale company P. Graham Dunn in Dalton, Ohio. As a result, “we’ve doubled down on introducing a broader offering for them to choose from.”

Tara Merrill, sales and marketing manager with Cape Shore, a Yarmouth, Maine, wholesaler, agrees. “The coastal/ ocean market has always been at the forefront of our sales,” she says. But “over the last few years, the inland/lake market has really started to expand. [Lake] vacation dreams and memories keep us going through our hectic workdays and busy lives.”


When it comes to lakeside products, there are some key images that stand out, including anchors, sailboats, canoes and compass roses, Merrill explains. 46 SEASIDE RETAILER JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2023 LAKE & FRESHWATER TRENDS


Lake enthusiasts can stay in their happy place anywhere they are with these lake-themed products.

1 | Leisurely Lakeside: L-A-K-E blocks,; 2 | Good Well Supply Co.: Custom lake-scented candles,; 3 | Cape Shore: ”Live Love Lake” wine tumbler,; 4 | Uniquely Coastal: “Lake Life” coaster,; 5 | DKD: Throw blanket with custom lake outline,; 6 | Rockflowerpaper: ”Welcome to the Lake” serving tray,; 7 | Lakeshore Impressions: Sailboat ornament,; 8 | Earth Born Traditions: Lake plaque with interchangeable letter of any body of water,; 9 | Sincere Surroundings: “Lake Days are Always the Best Days” coaster magnet,; 10 | Dune Jewelry & Co.: Salmon cuff bracelet,; 11 | Rightside Design Studio: Lake pillow,; 12 | Buddy by the Lake: “Good Vibes” T-shirt,

1 2 3 4 5 6 9 10 11 12 8

“In land-locked states, people still love the water — whether those are lakes or rivers,” emphasizes Laurel Ryan, owner of Nautically Northern, a wholesale gift and jewelry company based in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

While oceanside locations will add shells, sharks, whales, starfish, mermaids and lighthouses to the mix, lake locations are incorporating more woodland themes, such as moose, birds, bass, loons and bears, as well as products that tout adventures, including hiking, boating, camping and exploring the great outdoors, Ryan notes.

Birds like the iconic cardinal or darling chickadee are highly desired images as well, adds Lynn McKernan, vice president of product design and development at Rightside Design Studio, based in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

“We crave our time by the water to get back in touch with ourselves, slow down and breathe,” McKernan says. “The scenery, sounds and sea life among

the shores inspire us to capture the textures, colors and shapes of coastal living.”

Seaside retailers can use these classic lake-inspired images to fill the shelves in their stores, inspiring shoppers to take little pieces of their trips or experiences back home with them.

For instance, people want to celebrate their lakeside trips with small engraved souvenirs, such as metal ornaments or keychains in lake or sailboat shapes. Especially when vacationers are traveling from a distance, they gravitate toward smaller items that can be carefully tucked away in a suitcase like picture clips or coaster magnets, says Abbey Grooters, director of marketing for the gift and home decor company Sincere Surroundings, Rock Rapids, Iowa.

“It’s about remembering the trip,” explains Mike Sayig, owner of Lakeshore Impressions in Saint Clair Shores, Michigan, adding that the goal is to offer fast-selling, high-quality products. “When travelers are visiting a new place,

Signs like this one from P. Graham Dunn bring charm to a lake home exterior.

they want a trinket to commemorate their trip. That’s what makes these markets quite sustainable; people are always traveling.”


People go to the lake to relax and unwind, and the colors of lakeside products


match this easy feeling.

Lake products will typically come in a base of calming colors that are traditional and comfortable like pale blues, grays and light browns, McKernan says. Nautical colors like navy and white are also common pairs seen in lake products, sometimes adding a touch of red to the mix.

Depending on your seaside retail location, reflecting specific local colors is also appealing. Holly and Jason Snider, owners of Leisurely Lakeside, Bryan, Ohio, like to add a rustic finish to their dark blue, gray, cream and blue-green color palette to reflect their key market: the Great Lakes. “Customers love the ‘broken-in’ look and weather-faded colors often found along the Great Lakes,” they explain. “The colors of the Great Lakes can change dramatically with the weather even within the same day, so

“The colors of the Great Lakes can change dramatically with the weather even within the same day, so we take our inspiration from that, and our decor and products reflect that.”

— Holly and Jason Snider, Leisurely Lakeside

we take our inspiration from that, and our decor and products reflect that.”

The latest trend is adding more natural, woodsy tones to this mix, including rosemary greens, pine greens and even a bold orange, McKernan says.


Lake-centric home decor items give customers who love the lake — whether they own lake houses or are just vacationing — a chance to bring that lake feeling home. These coastal comforts include everything from pillows to pottery to switch plates and linens to totes and candles.

The market for lake home products is huge “because people who travel to the lake are staying in homes more than hotels today as they desire more privacy and serenity,” explains Ali Pfeifer, sales manager of the company, MD-Brand, Baltimore, Maryland, which includes popular brands like Puppie Love and Live Oak Brand and manufactures clothing, dog bandanas, blankets and drinkware.

Items like lakescape artwork and wooden blocks that spell out “L-A-K-E” can add those nautical feelings to a space, the Sniders explain. “Our customers are people who own lake homes or love the lakes and don’t have a lake house but want to bring a piece of the lake into their homes,” they say.

Decorating a lake house or room at home with outdoor adventure elements like canoe paddles or buoys of varying sizes is also a unique way for seaside retail customers to blend a sense of lake activity memories into their home interiors, the

Rightside Design Studio’s lakecentric home decor is trending.

Sniders share. Think of cabin-inspired or chalet-inspired themes.

Homeowners looking to add a simpler edge to their decor may opt for actual wood slabs turned into signs that can stand on their own on tabletops, bookshelves or dressers, adding natural style, Miller says.

Other easy lake-themed home additions are kitchenware items like bottle openers, spoons and coasters that can be customized with lake outlines or themes. Cutting boards customized with a specific lake shape and the latitude and longitude of the lake are popular souvenirs or gifts, Ryan shares.


In addition to adding lake themes to homes, seaside retailers are also expanding their lake apparel collections to bring that cozy comfort to clothing with sweatshirts, long-sleeved T-shirts, embroidered branded apparel, and even branded personal accessories like tote bags and pouches that can all go from boat to beach to dinner out on the town, according to the Sniders.

Whether it’s hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts, bags, towels or blankets, seaside retailer customers can get “everything a boater would need to be adventurous and casual on the water,” says Annette

Alsobrooks, creator and owner of Lake Folks Designs, Soddy Daisy, Tennessee. “They are buying that awesome, casual lifestyle that they love.”

“Life at the lake can be energizing, relaxing, funny and sentimental,” explains Melissa Johnson at Lakegirl in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. “It translates to family picnics on the Fourth of July, water skiing till the gas runs out, fishing at dusk and singing around a campfire while fighting off the mosquitoes. Above all else, life at the lake is comfortable.”

The casual lifestyle is what drives clothing with lake puns and themes like Lakegirl, Rivergirl, Lakebaby and Dockboy. “The lake girl wants to dig her toes in the sand and enjoy life,” Johnson says, adding that the clothing is all about evoking a feeling of effortlessness and coziness.

Also, nothing ruins a beach day like running out of sunscreen or forgetting it completely. Sunscreen struggles inspired Megan Luchtel to design Lake Label

“Life at the lake can be energizing, relaxing, funny and sentimental.”
— Melissa Johnson, Lakegirl

swimwear, particularly the sunsuit that offers full-body, UPF 50-plus coverage in lightweight, breathable material for kids.

“My family loves to be outdoors, especially in the water, but getting three small kids boat-ready is not easy,” says Luchtel, owner and founder of the Phoenix, Arizona-based business. “I’ve spent hours chasing the shade with a newborn and lathering up my toddlers with sunscreen only to find red spots on their shoulders after a long day of swimming and boating. After five years of sunscreen in the eyes, reapplication tantrums and watching all of my hard work rub off in the sand and water, I knew there had to be a better way.”

In addition to clothing, seaside retail-

ers can add a bit of whimsy and sparkle to soft sweatshirts and sun-shielding swimwear with lake-inspired jewelry, which continues to sell big at seaside retail locations, explains Bret Kimes at DKD Co., St. Louis, Missouri.

“Personalized jewelry is our most requested item, and we don’t see that ending any time soon,” Kimes says. “Popular link style necklaces and bracelets are easily customized. Our customers love … curating a line of jewelry that is exclusive to their store that highlights their lake or resort town. It helps a store set themselves apart from others in the same market. People love their lakes, and they are proud to wear or purchase products that promote and celebrate these areas.”

Kimes says jewelry with pearls, shells and flowers are on trend for 2023, as are requests for more sterling silver items.

Nautically Northern’s latitude and longitude cuff bracelets and bar necklaces are also top lake sellers, notes Ryan.


Seaside retailers are also taking advantage of their specific lake locations and surroundings by adding numerous customization options to their products, which has helped drive sales, Merrill says, calling this “name dropping.”

Personalization is a continued trend that customers love, Grooters adds, mentioning how stores appreciate being able to create unique pieces specific to their areas or local festivals.

“There’s nothing better than getting special requests and turning our customers’ thoughts into tangible items they can sell in their stores,” Sayig says.

Customization also does not have to be expensive or involve large orders, which helps retailers offer these options without holding excess stock, Kimes adds.

As Kimes says, “People love their lakes, and they are proud to wear or purchase products that promote and celebrate the area.”

Lake Label’s sunsuit for children keeps sunburns away.


LIKE A PRO Markets

Successful seaside retailers know a compelling merchandise mix keeps customers coming back season after season. A store that carries a well-curated selection of enticing gift and lifestyle items that engage buyers can become a destination stop for vacationers.

What’s the secret to sourcing gift and lifestyle products that will keep your store packed for the whole high

season? Omnichannel sourcing, with its combination of physical markets and digital marketplaces, offers year-round opportunities to reorder best-sellers and to discover innovative new merchandise that intrigues buyers.

Access to top souvenir brands coupled with a broad spectrum of gift and home decor product gives buyers the competitive edge. During one convenient visit they can source a broad merchandise mix, but branching out beyond more

souvenir and coastal-focused trade shows and taking the plunge into larger markets can be daunting. Fortunately, the right planning can lead to smooth sailing.


The first step in making the most of a gift market is to determine the best timing for you to be out of the store. Most major markets — like Atlanta Market and Las Vegas Market presented by International Market Centers — have winter and summer editions.

Some buyers attend market twice per year, while others choose one market based on their inventory needs, staffing and more. Is your off-season in the winter when beaches are empty, or do colder temperatures elsewhere draw visitors to your town? Are you fully staffed in the summer and can leave your team to run 56 SEASIDE RETAILER JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2023 BUYING STRATEGIES
Cindy Henry is vice president of buyer services for International Market Centers (IMC), which produces Atlanta Market and Las Vegas Market. Her expertise comes from years as an exhibitor and extensive vendor, retailer and sales representative relationships, as well as volunteer service on the industry boards of the Gift & Home Trade Association (GHTA) and the Gift Sales Manager Association (GSMA). Make the most of in-person and digital markets with these helpful tips and tricks.

the store? You will need to plan for a few days at markets, so pick a time that you can comfortably be away.

Employee shortages have made the current environment difficult for some store owners, managers and buyers to get away. While it is hard to replace seeing products in person and meeting the people you will be doing business with, digital markets offer the opportunity to source gift products without leaving your store. In just a few minutes, retail buyers can search millions of products and place orders with trusted brands, as well as innovative newcomers.


The strength of gift markets is access to millions of products all in one place. Successful buyers avoid being overwhelmed by doing their research and making a plan before market.

A great starting point is taking note of the gift items that are doing well for your store and for other coastal retailers. Pro-

files in industry publications and social media are effective for doing research, as well as old-school secret shopping for competitive analysis.

Research tools offered by market organizers are invaluable. Atlanta Market Magazine and Las Vegas Market Preview present market information, explore trends and offer advertisements from ex-

More buying strategies

hibiting brands prior to market. Retailers can follow official social media channels for product previews and insider information and search market hashtags to see other buyers’ favorite finds.

Digital markets can also be a powerful tool when planning to source at a physical market. Many buyers do research, connect with brands and

Retailers interested in gaining more insight into buying strategies can attend the Coastal Connections Conference, Jan. 22-24 at the Margaritaville Resort in Orlando. Cindy Henry, vice president of buyer services for International Market Centers, will be joined by Lisa Berry (Glosson), vice president, gift and souvenir division, Clarion Events, and Dane Cohen, business development manager, Management One, during a session titled “Effective Buying Strategies,” taking place Sunday, Jan. 22, from 4:45 to 6 p.m. Attendees will learn how to effectively work with vendors and brands to keep their store stocked with products even during busy times and shipping challenges. Learn more at


With thousands of buyers attending in-person markets, setting appointments with brands ensures you can meet with representatives for your area who already know what makes your seaside location unique.

make purchases before, during and after attending an in-person market. Doing research also helps with a key element of successful sourcing: setting a budget. Knowing what you can spend before you shop — whether digitally or physically — ensures you don’t over-purchase.

USE THE MARKET TOOLS Market organizers offer comprehensive tools to help you make the most of your visit. Physical show websites are a wealth of information. They allow you

to view exhibitor directories, see events calendars, and get a feel for the market. The travel pages serve as a resource for booking hotels, flights and parking with guaranteed low rates, discounts, shuttle service and more. Las Vegas Market’s official housing partner gives buyers the opportunity to win free hotel nights plus dining and entertainment credits.

Many shows offer pre-registration on their sites, where you can upload your business identification (resale certificates, tax ID numbers, etc.) to be pre-approved as a buyer, which will save you valuable time when you arrive at market.

Digital markets offer similar tools to

Upcoming markets

Atlanta Market | AmericasMart Atlanta

help you make the most of the platform. Information about sales terms and shipping promotions can optimize orders.

Many gift markets also offer apps with planning and navigation tools. Be sure to download them before you head to market and have them ready to go when you arrive.


With thousands of buyers attending in-person markets, setting appointments with brands ensures that you can meet with the representative for your area who already knows what makes your seaside location unique. A great relationship with

Jan. 10-16, 2023; July 11-17, 2023 |

Las Vegas Market | World Market Center Las Vegas Jan. 29 – Feb. 2, 2023; July 30- Aug. 3, 2023 |


a local sales representative can benefit your business, so you want to be sure to arrange to meet with the person who will service your account.

Preparation helps you make the most of your appointment. Have your story ready: describe your store and customers, name brands you carry and explain why you want to add gift products.

The appointment is a mutually beneficial meeting, so ask questions to make sure the brand can meet your needs: “What is in stock now?” “What are the immediate and future ship dates?” “What is ‘on time’ delivery?” “What are your terms?” and “Do you offer show specials?” If they are not the right fit, feel free to move on — your time at market is too valuable to waste.

Be sure to ask about digital sourcing options when you meet with a brand in person. Knowing you can order — or reorder — online saves valuable time. The ability to work with them between markets is a huge benefit.


While making a plan and setting appointments are key elements in a successful visit, discovery is what makes physical and digital markets so valuable to top seaside retailers.


While making a plan and setting appointments are key elements in a successful visit, discovery is what makes physical and digital markets so valuable to top seaside retailers.

Knowing where to find products is an important step in finding the right items for your store. At major in-person gift markets, brands are offered in permanent showroom spaces like a shopping mall or in temporary booths like in a typical trade show — with both offering

great exploration opportunities. Online, keyword searches can allow you to find exactly what you’re looking for or give you the opportunity for broader category exploration.

Look for categories that mention seaside or coastal products, but don’t discount other verticals. At a physical market, walk floors in other categories to discover new brands.

Take advantage of the opportunity to see, touch, taste and smell products to find the next great brand for your seaside store. Find inspiration in displays and return to your store with fresh eyes. Online, click on brands you don’t know, as they might have exactly what you are looking for.

For seaside retailers looking to expand their product mix, physical and digital gift markets offer unmatched discovery and sourcing opportunities. With proper planning, beach, coastal and nautical retailers can maximize their visits to grow their bottom lines.


Spring and summer 2023 resortwear trends let go of the restraints of the past few years while embracing innovation, quality and versatility.


The inspiration behind fashion trends goes deeper than what is on the surface. When Atlanta Apparel releases its semi-annual trend reports it takes many factors under consideration such as current environmental and economic conditions. These crucial forces affect the colors, prints, fabrics and styles designers use to create outfits that speak to consumers.

As Atlanta Apparel’s Fashion & Events Director Morgan Ramage explains, “For Spring/Summer 2023, the number one things we are seeing are innovation, quality and versatility are still key, especially with insecurities around pricing, inflation and the potential recession. However, there is a rush of creativity in the industry that is very much a celebration of life coming off of a challenging few years. We are still seeing a lot of vibrance, a lot of color and a lot of creativity in the industry,

so it is kind of a balance between those two forces.”

Ramage has more than 10 years of experience in the fashion wholesale and styling world, producing scores of runway shows, curated vignettes, live model demonstrations and virtual fashion events. She says these forces are manifesting through essentials and basics being revived with fun prints and colors in 2023.

“It may be a solid core piece but it injects a fun print or updated color to it, or maybe it is a playful detail or a different material, so that is how we are seeing them being achieved: by balancing the two,” Ramage explains.


Competing forces are showing up in color schemes, according to Ramage, with optimistic bright shades alongside comfortable, classic neutrals. Sundial a mustard, earthy color is being paired with Digital Lavender or Tranquil Blue for pops

Rockflowerpaper infuses trending new prints and embroidery into classic styles.

Young Fabulous & Broke: Napa dress/bralette, 2

Briton Court: Dazed maxi dress, 3

Bali Queen: Tiki-licious caftan, 4

Patti Biggs: Maggie jumpsuit, 5

Tribal: Sleeveless dress, 6

Lani Lau: Sea coral Smart Dress,


of smart color. Digital Lavender, the WGSN and Coloro Color of the Year has been described as “an imaginative color set to converge across our virtual and physical world in 2023.”

“Consumers will be seeking calming, restorative shades that can provide balance and connect them to nature as an everyday healing practice,” says Ramage.

“Humble everyday hues will resonate,” she continues, “but should be balanced with uplifting mood-boosting brights, which will appeal to those who spend their time between the physical world and the virtual metaverse.”

She says the metaverse is “huge right now so I think that is also part of the spring/summer palette. You have those comfortable neutrals, but you also have those crazy, bright pastels because they feel good.”

Ramage notes that deeper hues not typically associated with spring and summer are adding an unexpected directional update and are set to make

an impact across the season and into the trans-seasonal autumn period.


Apparel trends will follow trend themes and key colors across silhouettes and styles. “Skirts are huge right now,” notes Ramage. Mini, wrap and column skirts


and craft in crochet, artisanal, halter neck, front-tie and wrap-top styles. Ramage is seeing a lot of 90s inspiration in tops, such as the 90s tank or cami.

“It’s a key item people can easily grab and incorporate,” she notes.

allow for further comfort and individualization in sizing.

Slouchy trousers; utility carpenter trousers; skinny, minimalist trousers and vacation shorts will allow for personalization through relaxed fit, innovation and further comfort.

Ramage describes vacation shorts as looking professional but still comfortable and can be dressed up or dressed down. Tops will emphasize the optimism

Wrap blouses usually work for lots of body types, shapes and sizes, whether it be a knit or a matching set. “They’re really great as cover-ups and [gives you the option of] beach to bar.”

Dresses will cover a wide variety of purposes, from utility to style with open-weave, crochet, patchwork and knit maxis, halter midis, boxer minis, active dresses and cut-out beach dresses dominating.

The popular “bleisure” dress is a dress that Ramage describes as func-

“You have those comfortable neutrals but you also have those crazy, bright pastels because they feel good.”
— Morgan Ramage, Atlanta Apparel’s Fashion & Events Director

Headwear gains headway

Boulder, Colorado-based Wallaroo Hat Co. manufactures an Australian-inspired line of UPF 30+ and 50+, colorful, fashion-forward everyday hats.

During September 2022 Surf Expo in Orlando, Stephanie Carter, CEO and founder, shared some of the trends the company is seeing at the coast. “Fedoras have been really big in the last few years. Also, color is really big.”

The company’s popular Sanibel hat was recently introduced in Cornflower Blue, and the Kristy hat, which has also been a big seller, is now available in coral. Made with a unique polypropylene fabric, it is extremely lightweight and packable, according to Carter — great to travel with.

Wallaroo has added a chin strap to many of its popular coastal styles “because so many people are asking for hats that can work well on a boat or if it is windy at the beach,” explains Carter. Visors have also gained traction. “With our visors, we tend to do slightly larger brims so you get more coverage. The company has also expanded its men’s line and introduced a petite size.

Wallaroo has seen a steady increase in sales — a trend that Carter expects to continue. “I think that coming out of the pandemic, people are spending a lot more time outside. You see a big increase in the number of people sailing, camping, hiking, running, walking. Our sales have doubled in the last five years, and we still see the trend continuing to go up.”

tional, fuss-free and easily adjustable. The trending trapeze dress is a beachto-bar dress that comes in fun prints, Captain, oversize, easy to throw on and go, versatile for all types of people and ages. Bold slip dresses, also big in 2023, are being introduced in fun, saturated colors that can be dressed down or up for special occasions.

Based on Miami Swim Week, swimwear styles will follow 90s, minimalist, tiny styles with asymmetrical cuts, strappy designs, collage fabrics and cutouts, according to Ramage. “We’re seeing lots of extra straps and ties and knots. Asymmetrical styles were everywhere on the runway,” she says. “Also rashguards were everywhere.”


Accessories will be crafted with longterm design and sustainability in mind with qualities that align with a more flexible lifestyle. Party set earrings, layered and beaded necklaces with pendants,


Spring/Summer Apparel Trends

Skirts: Mini, sarong, pleated, wrap and column skirts

Bottoms: Oversized, slouchy trousers; utility carpenter trousers; skinny trousers; vacation shorts (relaxed fit/long line)

Tops: Craft tops (crochet/fringe), artisanal overshirts, 90s camis/ tanks, halter necks, front-tie blouses, off-the-shoulder tops, fluid tops, wrap tops

Dresses: Patchwork maxis, halter midis, boxy minis, active dresses, open weave maxis, cut-out beach dresses

Swim: Teeny bikinis (90s minimalist), cutouts, asymmetrical tops, strappy tops, collage fabrics, rash guards

body and belly chains, woven bucket hats, beach bags, mini handbags and everyday underarm bags are all trending.

“We’re seeing fun, bright, beaded necklaces that look hand-crafted and artisanal,” says Ramage. “Pendants are still

beach tote is very trendy right now as are minibags — both in bright colors like orange or green.”

Footwear is also bearing the dual theme of comfort coupled with the desire to dress up again, says Ramage. “We are

really big whether it be a coin or drops of stone that can be easily layered with other simple necklaces.”

Retro frames are making waves in sunglasses styles, including hexagon-shapes, as well as oversized aviators.

And believe it or not, says Ramage, belly chains reminiscent of Britney Spears of the 90s are also trending, “so that is something to note, especially in a coastal town.”

Bags are also important for coastal retailers and Ramage says, “The bucket

seeing a lot of soft finishes, easy indoor and outdoor living style such as a puffy, soft flip-flop or slide. The 90s platform is also back because they’re comfortable.”

When stocking up on the latest fashions, Ramage suggests, “Keep in mind balancing the need to be optimistic, colorful and bright but also using that great classic style that’s popular in your store. Buy it in a different print or color so it gives people that option. It’s about the safety of what they know but also stepping out and trying something new.”

“Pendants are still really big whether it be a coin or drops of stone that can be easily layered with other simple necklaces.
— Morgan Ramage, Atlanta Apparel’s Fashion & Events Director



PERSPECTIVE ON Retail on the lake

Offering go-to brands with a mix of namedrop items that tourists love gives customers a reason to return.

BeachHouseHavasu LakeHavasuCity,AZ


Located along the Bridgewater Channel by the historic London Bridge — the largest antique ever purchased — is a quaint shop that carries everything you need for a day on Lake Havasu in Arizona. From beachwear to accessories, jewelry and flip-flops, the year-round family-owned business delivers a lake shack themed experience in a major tourist destination.

“We are fortunate to meet people from all over the world,” says Stephanie Finch, whose husband Danny Finch opened it with brother, Dallas, in November 2019. Finch runs the daily operations of the English Village shop, which is a district on the water with charming retailers and a unique vibe. Many enjoy visiting because they can go “across the pond” without leaving Arizona.

Finch says Beach House runs a busy spring and summer business by keeping up with trends, including offering brands like Salty Crew apparel and Maui and Sons surf

Products with “No bad days,” the popular Lake Havasu saying, are top sellers at Beach House Havasu.

shirts and boardshorts. “Being by the water, we keep it casual and fun!” she says.


Beach House Havasu is a prime example of how special things come in small packages — and the shop wisely uses every square foot of display space to showcase lake-themed products. The store is the size of a bedroom with a Tudor style exterior that complements the shopping district’s English vibe. Yet inside, it’s all about soaking in everything Lake Havasu.

“We have a register at either end of the store, and we utilize our wall and floor space to display merchandise,” Finch describes. Both registers come in handy during the busy season. “It also helps with loss prevention having someone at both entrances.” And the shop has even carved out a single dressing room for customers, which can help reduce returns.

Vertical presentation allows the shop to maximize the area. “We utilize every bit of space we can, getting creative when necessary to display what we have to sell,” Finch says.

As for product selection, Finch builds an inventory of fun-loving, beachy items and says that in spite of being on the lake, customers are still after coastal themes that feel like vacation. “When I am shopping for merchandise, I look for prints


with water, palm trees, boats and vibrant colors,” she says. “It is really similar to beach and coastal.”

And some items are not necessarily coastal but just plain fun. “A favorite for some of our customers is our T-shirts with VW buses on them,” Finch says. “I work hard to search for products that you might not see in every other touristy shop.”

“The biggest sellers are beachwear and Lake Havasu T-shirts,” Finch says, adding that items carrying the iconic London Bridge image are also attractive to guests. “No bad days,” is a popular Lake Havasu saying that moves when emblazoned on merchandise.

with our beach brands. After a cool winter, we are ready for the warm-weather season products. Hats, cover-ups, swimwear, tees and flip-flops are a must.”

Beach House carries brands that include Roxy, RVCA, O’Neill Surf Co. and Billabong. Beachy straw hats hang from the rafters, and “little things” like velvet scrunchies or beaded earrings offer something for everyone at every price point.

and military tents that are available in a variety of patterns.

T-shirts and crop tops from the local Lake Havasu brand Rvrlyfeco say “Live Free, Live Fast” and are created by a family with a “passion for LYFE on the lake and river.”

And capturing a carefree lake attitude are can koozies with phrases like, “I only drink beer on days that end with Y,” and “In our family, we don’t hide crazy we put it on the porch and give it a cocktail.”

“I work hard to search for products that you might not see in every other touristy shop.” — STEPHANIE FINCH

“We refresh our stock constantly,” Finch adds. “We look forward to our spring season with all the latest trends

The shop also carries fun buys that aren’t specifically lake focused but are appealing to those on vacation who are in an “anything-goes” mood. For example, vintage ballcaps bearing “Thelma,” “Louise” or “Don’t Make Me Go Beth Dutton on You!” are spontaneous goodtime buys for the ladies. So are canvas tote bags made from repurposed canvas

A selection of kids’ items gives the younger ones something to take home from vacation, too. Those include namedrop T-shirts with sayings like “River Rat” and a colorful display of Hang Loose Bands bracelets, wristbands and ring bands that can be stacked, mixed and matched.


While the shop is open year-round, Beach House Havasu focuses on winter staples during the cold months. “We


bring in some hoodies and crewneck fleece, as well as long-sleeve T-shirts,” Finch describes.

Because the weather is temperate year-round, there are plenty of visitors who frequent the lake town and the shop during what could be considered “off season.” For the most part, Beach House Havasu is always “on.”

“We get a lot of winter visitors who come to Lake Havasu for our warmer temps and beautiful weather — most of the places they are coming from are very cold and most likely have snow,” Finch notes.

She refers to Lake Havasu as “a bubble” that is a relaxing get-away “when the world is a little crazy.” In fact, this atmo-

sphere is what drew her and her family to the lake 31 years ago, where they raised three children and are now grandparents. “We love the small-town, patriotic vibe we have here.”

And as for Beach House Havasu, Finch says, “I feel our store is unique because of our friendly atmosphere, the decor and the location, of course!” COASTAL CONNECTION JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2023 SEASIDE RETAILER 73
Beach House Havasu’s items range from fun lake-themed T-shirts for adults and kids to hats with chill vibes to colorful, stackable bracelets.


PERSPECTIVE ON Retail on the lake

Cross merchandising products and constantly switching up displays, keeps guests perusing for up to an hour.

Lake&Land TradingCo. OsageBeach,MO


Todd and Stacy Hempen exchanged a knowing look on a drive back from their second home in Osage Beach on Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. They were headed back to Tulsa — a four-hour drive — after a weekend with morning coffee and water views on the deck. A slower pace of life.

“We should just live in our happy place.”

Hempen had been in retail for over 30 years, a good part of that time at Bass Pro Shops and later in a consulting role where he helped a Spokane casino design, build, plan and merchandise a retail addition. “That started the inspiration,” Hempen shares. “I should be doing this for myself.” Meanwhile, the pandemic had shot up home sales and property prices in the Osage Beach area. “The lake had gone through expansive growth from home sales — people moving out of their markets into the center of the U.S. — and there was more than $2 billion in home sales during COVID,” says Hempen. Families like the Hempens were also

Lake & Land Trading Co. carries apparel for men and women, as well as other outdoors-focused items.

choosing to make their vacation home the home. “For 10 years, there was only one permanent resident in our subdivision with eight houses, and now four of the homes are permanent residents here.”

So the Lake of the Ozarks market was ripe for more retail, the average household income had increased, and Hempen was ready to take the plunge and open his dream store: Lake & Land Trading Co. The store carries ladies and men’s apparel, footwear, lake decor, fishing and hunting products, and outdoors-focused items like Solo Stove Bonfire firepits.

“We have coined ourselves as a boutique outfitter,” says Hempen, adding that targeting the lake customer is different than a coastal audience. And as an interior lake surrounded by woods, the vibe is also different than communities along the Great Lakes, for example.

The aesthetic “tends to be more on the cabin-ish side — bare wood and more rustic,” Hempen describes.


Hempen found a storefront in a complex among other retailers. The property features 15-foot glass garage doors that open up to welcome guests into a 3,000 square foot space that is “cross merchandised to the hilt.”


“We create spaces that are segmented by classification and we cross merchandise those areas,” he explains. “So, an area where we sell coffee is surrounded by mugs, coffee scoopers and decor that speaks to coffee, but we have coffee and mugs in other areas of the store.”

Another example: barware includes home decor items, and the home goods area also incorporates barware.

Hunting and fishing products stand on their own and are not intermingled with lake-focused and apparel/footwear products. And Hempen is constantly changing up displays, switching up the floor at least every 45 days in the year-round shop. “People come in and say, ‘You have so much more,’ or, ‘You expanded,’ and it’s like, not really. We got in a dozen new ladies’ tops and we switched it all up,” Hempen says.

The downside to cross merchandising, says Hempen, is that sometimes you can do so “to a degree you can lose things.” In other words, customers might not realize you carry an item because it is nestled into a category where they are not focused. But mostly the strategy is beneficial, and Hempen says the average shopper’s visit is at least 45 minutes and basket size is generally five to 10 items.

But don’t expect a discount at Land & Lake Trading Co. “We do not discount or offer clearance deals,” Hempen says. Pricing items fairly allows products to turn without having to run sales. Apparel averages $40 for women’s and $50 for men’s, and lakethemed decor ranges from $10 to several hundred, depending on the product. The average customer is age 40 to retirement and owns a second home or permanent residence on the lake.

“We are very careful of our choices making sure it fits in with the demand of what is around the lake,” says Hempen.


As for lake-focused products, Hempen says customers are after cabin and paddles, old boats and lake nostalgia themes.

It’s nice to get up in the morning, look at the lake, open the lap-top, have coffee and start business.” — TODD HEMPEN
Grouping items with other relevant goods encourages add-on sales.

Because lake life includes entertaining and kicking back, there are plenty of products that speak to this vibe. The store carries custom carvings on whiskey barrel tops that say, “Lake of the Ozarks,” and other handmade items include a decorative rock with the phrase “Gone Fishing.” Wooden wall bottle openers include phrases like “In dog beers, I’ve only had one!”

Tea towels by Primitives by Kathy bare tongue-in-cheek sayings, and overall Hempen enjoys hearing customers cruise around the shop and get a good laugh. “We have developed so many friendships with people who come to the store,” he says. The store offers a social experience beyond retail that keeps people coming back for more, he adds.

Also, customers appreciate the labels that Land & Lake Trading Co. carries. Those include Lucky Brand jeans, Chinese Laundry ladies’ footwear, Lodge Cast Iron cookware, Torched candles made from beer bottles and growlers,

and Kanga Coolers insulated cases that allow you to slide in a cold 12-pack of adult beverages without ice. Customers can also find BruMate insulated can coolers, toddy containers, bottle coolers and pints.

“We carry paddles that have the lake engraved with the coordinates, and we also have products like bath salts and soaps,” Hempen says, noting that food products also make nice gifts and speak to the outdoors: spicy pecans and hot honey.

For the backyard, the shop offers hammocks, fire pits, lake floats and boat accessories. A selection of beach towels in the $30 price point are easy additions to other purchases.

Custom signs by Brayden & Brooks include lake-inspired messages. And, of course, the shop offers pillows that say things like, “The lake is my happy place.” Indeed for the Hempens, it is — and business continues to grow and thrive. After opening Labor Day weekend of

2021, he’s proud that “I have not had a single upset customer in this store.”

“They come here to be in a happy place,” he explains, adding that he couldn’t agree more.

“It’s nice to get up in the morning, look at the lake, open the laptop, have coffee and start business,” he says. JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2023 SEASIDE RETAILER 77
Lake & Land is considered a boutique outfitter for its home and outdoorsy goods.


Portability is key for Put-in-Bay island gifts so customers can easily transport what they purchase by ferry or personal watercraft.

HomePort Put-in-Bay,OH


Offering visitors a selection of gifts so they can take home a bit of Put-in-Bay is the focus at Home Port, where owners Jason and Chris Cooper cater to island guests with nauticaland cottage-inspired decor.

“Whether people have a summer cottage here or they’re a boater family or visiting for the day, they want to bring some of the island to their year-round home so they can look at it and remember the good times in the summer,” says Jason Cooper, who also owns a few other stores on the Lake Erie island with his brother: The Little Store, which offers jewelry and accessories; Dock 421, a resort apparel shop; and Island Hardware, which includes a grocery section.

“We grew up coming here in summers, and my grandparents had a place here they bought back in the 1950s,” Cooper says of the family’s roots on the island. His parents retired to Put-in-Bay about 20 years ago, and shortly after the Cooper boys bought the

Anchors and boats in navy and red hues adorn tabletop gifts like these mugs at Home Port.

local hardware store and relocated to the island from Cleveland, which is about an hour away.

As for Put-in-Bay, it’s often called the Key West of the North — a lively destination on South Bass Island on Lake Erie. Visitors ferry over from the mainland for day trips or week-long stays at one of the island’s hotels, rental homes or bed and breakfasts. From historic sites to a vibrant bar and restaurant scene, the island offers something for everyone, and that includes shopping at retailers like Home Port.

“We carry everything from coasters to wall art, tabletop gifts, quality soaps, decorative pillows and more,” Cooper says of the coastal inventory that targets lake visitors. And that’s different than stocking a shop on the ocean. “We don’t have salt,” he quips. “Navy and red is much more our vibe here — anchors, lighthouses, sailboats.”


When the Coopers scout for products at gift shows, they often find themselves explaining that the typical seaside fare is not necessarily a fit for Home Port. “One of the real challenges we have finding the right items is when we tell someone we are looking for ‘nautical,’ they show you everything with dolphins and crabs and salty this and that,” says Cooper.


“And there are so many that show powder blue and aqua and beachy colors, which there is some taste for here, but navy, white, red and anchors have always been the classic look around here.”

On the other hand, when Cooper says “lake” to a wholesaler, some also show him ‘birch bark canoes and moose. We are not a lodge, we are the Great Lakes.”

Sourcing niche products requires a combination of stocking the classics and mixing in fresh products. “A few years

ago, everything had a blue anchor on it and we sold it like crazy, but that ran its course and we had to get creative,” Cooper says. “We can’t have the whole store covered in navy blue anchors.”

So, the Coopers introduced other motifs including life rings, stylized power boats, lighthouses, sailboats and textures like cork and dock line. “We have trivets that look like a big square knot and cork napkin rings that have a universal appeal,” he says.

The shop doesn’t go deep into the lighthouse theme, though they offer coasters and some tabletop items with this popular motif. “There are shops that go full in on lighthouses; we don’t have a collectibles atmosphere,” explains Cooper.

Another factor is portability. “Whether you are going back home on the ferry or on your personal boat,

everything is going back by boat so very fragile items do not do well for us and neither do large, awkward products,” Cooper says. “We’ll do a few wall sculptures, but a lot of people look at them and say, ‘Wow. I love it, but I don’t know how I’ll get it home.’”

Items that are easily wrapped and simple to transport are key. For example, the shop sells specialty soaps with decorative soap dishes displayed to entice shoppers to buy both. Smaller wall art pieces are popular, as are candles and tabletop items like coasters and placemats.


Overall, Cooper describes Home Port as having “a preppy, nautical vibe,” and the store stands out among retailers on the island by drawing in guests with an ever-changing exterior display. “We focus

“We don’t have salt. Navy and red is much more our vibe here — anchors, lighthouses, sailboats.” JASON COOPER
Cork napkin rings bring a unique texture to the lake house decor that Home Port offers.

on larger things you can see from the parking lot like pillows, tote bags — we have a table set up and crates and you can see it from a distance so it encourages people to walk over here,” he says.

Inside, display fixtures are painted white and include antique dressers, tables, shelves and other interesting pieces to showcase home goods. “With tabletop, you want to set up a vignette — something that makes people think, ‘I want to do that in our house,’” says Cooper.

For example, he might position a seagrass table lamp with starfish coasters and a glass sailboat. Candles always complement a display and are fast sellers. Serving pieces and greeting cards are also portable, popular and appealing to Putin-Bay visitors.

And because Home Port is one of the Cooper’s three gift shops, employees rotate among them and are well-versed in the offerings at the jewelry store, apparel shop and hardware/grocer if guests need some staples while they’re on the island.

With Home Port, The Little Shop, Dock 421 and Island Hardware, the Coopers cover all the bases. They capture a range of business with niche-focused shops as opposed to a large store that tries to be everything to everyone. And by casting a wide net with retail opportunities in side-by-side stores, they can capitalize on tourism while it’s in season.

“April is the earliest we take inventory and we aren’t open full-time until Memorial Day,” explains Cooper, who notes that the season runs through Labor Day for the most part and winds down in the fall with weekend store hours. “But during the summer, we are open every day and busy with island visitors, just the way we like it.” JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2023 SEASIDE RETAILER 81
Displays that combine complementary items encourage shoppers to recreate looks.


Jan. 4-Jan. 10

Dallas Home & Gift Market Dallas

Jan. 4-6

Surf Expo Orlando, Florida

Jan. 5-6

The ASI Show Orlando, Florida

Jan. 10-13

Dallas Apparel & Accessories Dallas

Jan. 10-15 Atlanta Market Atlanta

Jan. 15-17

NRF Retail's Big Show New York City

Jan. 16-19

CMC LA Market Week Los Angeles

Jan. 16-20

LA Mart Gift + Home Los Angeles

Jan. 17-18

Active Collective Huntington Beach, California

Jan. 17-17

TMC-The Merchandise Center Chicago & Schiller Park, Illinois

Jan. 18-20

Alaska Wholesale Gift Show Anchorage, Arkansas

Jan. 20-22

Impressions Expo-Long Beach Long Beach, California

Jan. 23-25

The ASI Show Fort Worth, Texas

Jan. 22-24

Coastal Connections Conference Orlando, Florida www.coastalconnections

Jan. 28-30

Biloxi Gift Show Biloxi, Mississippi

Jan. 29-Feb. 2

Las Vegas Market Las Vegas

Jan. 31-Feb. 4

Atlanta Apparel Atlanta


Feb. 5-7

Philadelphia Gift Show Oaks, Pennsylvania

Feb. 5-8

NY Now New York City

Feb. 7-9

Trendz West Palmetto, Florida

Feb. 7-9

The Gathering West San Diego

Feb. 24-26

GTS Florida Jewelry & Resort Expo Kissimmee, Florida

Feb. 27-28

OC Apparel Show Irvine, California

January 2023 Surf Expo expands 20%

Surf Expo, the world’s premier watersports and beach lifestyle trade show, is preparing to host another blockbuster gathering at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, on Jan. 4-6, 2023.

Surf Expo continues to bounce back post pandemic, with the January 2023 show forecast to expand by 20% compared to the prior

year. Net square footage will reach approximately 190,000 square feet.

Illustrating Surf Expo’s strength is its finalist nomination at the Trade Show News Network Comeback Awards in the category of Customer Connectivity.

“We work hard to listen to and take care of all our customers, including brand exhibitors

GTS shows gaining strong regional following from buyers and exhibitors

and retail buyers,” says Roy Turner, Emerald senior vice president and Surf Expo show director. “We are thrilled the show continues to grow post pandemic and are excited to welcome an impressive list of brands to Orlando.”

A wide range of exhibitors have signed up for the January 2023 show, including Vissla, Birkenstock, Salty Crew, Katin, Jetty, Dark Seas, Firewire Surfboards, MISFIT Shapes, Sharp Eye Surfboards, Xcel Wetsuits, Keen Footwear, Pura Vida, DIFF Eyewear, Bajio Sunglasses, AFTCO, Hey Dude, Havaianas, Sperry, Sun Bum and Dragon Alliance.

“We’re really looking forward to Surf Expo January,” says Paul Naude, Vissla CEO. “We believe that the momentum will continue as exhibitors and retailers look for direction going into what appears to be an unpredictable year ahead.”

The Golden Triangle Shows’ Florida Jewelry and Resort Expo is Feb. 24-26 at the Osceola Heritage Park Events Center in Kissimmee, Florida. Its Greensboro Gift & Jewelry Show is March 17-19 at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex Special Events Center. GTS Director Bob Siddiqui says buyer attendance for 2023 is approaching pre-COVID numbers of an estimated 30,000 annual buyers. More information about the Greensboro and Kissimmee shows is available by visiting

Atlanta Market’s Winter 2023 home decor offerings grow

New resources in accent furnishings, oneof-a kind, vintage, textiles, pillows and more expand 350-plus design-driven whole-home showroom offerings at Atlanta Market in Winter 2023. A series of buyer tours focused on product discovery and trends will complement some six home decor showroom updates and nearly 50 casual furniture showroom openings at the Jan. 10-16, 2023, buying event.

“Exciting updates to the AmericasMart home decor offerings make Atlanta Market a top destination,” said Scott Eckman, International Market Centers executive vice president, chief revenue officer.

Winter 2023 home decor updates bring new resources to the more than 300 showrooms presenting lighting, accent furniture, rugs, wall decor and linens and nearly 50 new showrooms presenting casual furniture on 12 floors in AmericasMart Building 1.

Augmenting the showroom offerings are 200-plus home decor temporary exhibitors open Jan. 11-15, 2023. The Home Accents &

Home Furnishings and Fine Linens & Home Textiles categories are in a new location in Building 1, Floor 8 — directly below corresponding home decor showrooms — in Winter 2023. More home furnishings are in Antiques (Building 2, Floor 1; closes Jan. 14, 2023), High Design (Building 2, Floor 1) and High Design Luxe (Building 2, Floor 1).

A full list of exhibitors is available at

Buyers sourcing in Atlanta Market’s home and decor offerings have more to explore in Winter 2023 with the launch of a new casual furniture and outdoor living destination. The Casual/Outdoor Furnishings collection’s location on Floors 2-5 of AmericasMart Building 1 encourages home buyers to discover new resources in the lucrative outdoor living sector. New buyers and veterans looking for new resources can explore Atlanta Market’s home decor offerings in a series of guided tours at the Winter 2023 Market. The New Buyer Tour: Casual in Casual/Outdoor

Furnishings collection is on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 9 a.m. The home furnishings temporary exhibits are a stop on the New Buyer Tour: Temporaries on Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 9 a.m. New Buyer Tour: Home is an overview of AmericasMart’s home furnishings resources on Thursday, Jan. 12 at 9 a.m. Trending home decor product is featured in the New Buyer Tour: Trends on Friday, Jan. 13 at 9 a.m. These tours are part of five days of designer-focused programming.


Gift for Life raises record funds for 30th anniversary

Gift for Life, the gift and home industries’ sole charity, marked its 30th anniversary by raising more money than ever for charitable causes. The total of $160,495 raised was through 15 fundraising campaigns held during 2022 including several new initiatives. Since its founding in 1992, the all-volunteer organization has motivated the gift and home industry to donate more than $6 million in connection with at-market events, cause marketing initiatives and direct donations.

“This year was record setting in several ways,” said Peter Schauben, Gift for Life Founder. “We raised more money, we held more fundraising events and we launched new initiatives in order to help more people. It’s immensely gratifying that representatives from all areas of our industry — brands, buyers, sales agencies, market makers, media and industry suppliers — have stepped up to support our efforts so whole-heartedly.”

The record-setting 2022 fundraising benefitted Gift For Life’s current pandemic-

inspired focus on crisis-related hunger relief as well its legacy mission connected to HIV/ AIDS treatment, prevention, education and advocacy. The majority of funds was raised for World Central Kitchen through more than a dozen fundraisers. In addition, a record $48,091 was raised by the 2022 Gift For Life/ NY NOW AIDS Walk New York team.

Highlights during the 30th anniversary year included several first-time Gift for Life events. Most notably, the organization held its first-ever event during High Point Market, Home vs. Hunger, which raised $18,085 during the October event.

Other new events were Dallas Market Center’s “Showrooms Feeding Families” which raised $22,551; “Come Together,” which raised $23,150 at International Market Center’s

Atlanta Market and Las Vegas Market; “Fine Lines January Market Fundraiser,” which raised $11,507; “Seattle Market Gives Back,” which raised $5,176; “Shoppe Object Feeds Families,” which raised $1,289; and NY NOW winter and summer campaigns which raised $1,071.

Industry special events raising funds for World Central Kitchen also included Gifts & Decorative Accessories’ 2022 Retailer Excellence Awards ($23,287); 2022 GHTA Conference ($4,091); and the Gift Shop Plus/Stationery Trends 40 Under 40 Awards ($198).

Two additional fundraising initiatives — Crystal Media’s 10th Anniversary campaign and H.E.L.P. by T. Jazelle’s “Give Back Collection” custom-designed bracelet — will extend into 2023.



SE Surf Expo

AM Atlanta Market

LVM Las Vegas Market

CCC Coastal Connections Conference PGS Philadelphia Gift Show

1. A.T. Storrs Ltd.: Wild Pearle Jewelrysustainable abalone jewelry. PGS: 1200

2. Bali Queen: Alloy, woven turtle bracelet. SE: 1724; LVM: C117; CCC

3. Bamboo Source Tropical Decor: Reef Dolphin #2251. LVM: C806; CCC

4. Buddy by the Lake: Lake Life design on gray unisex short sleeve Tee. SE: 2042; AM: B3 FL5 114

5. Caloosa WaterWear: Customizable double-insulated tumbler with lid. SE: 1779; CCC

6. Daisy Mae Designs: Take canvas tote bag shopping or on a day trip. SE: 1751

7. Dune Jewelry: Sterling silver rope Seven Sand cuff. SE: 1473; AM: B3 FL4 1601; CCC; LVM: C1044

8. Fancy That Gift & Decor: GDN79141 21-inch MGO triple-gnome figure. AM: B2 FL16 1613

9. First & Main: Mermaid with sea life friend. SE: 2464; CCC

10. Flopeeze: Ultra-light, highly versatile recreational footwear. SE: 1829

11. Impulse Souvenirs: Trendy beanies to warm your visitors. SE: 2885; CCC

12. Inis the Energy of the Sea: Refresher Oil with Inis scent. SE: 1421; AM: B3 Fl 3 2400; LVM: 1039; PGS: 108

13. Jackie Gallagher Designs: Sterling Silver Hooked on You pendant. SE: 1669; CCC

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 13 11 12


14. Jilzarah: Handmade clay jewelry, gifts, and souvenirs. AM: B2 1305; LVM: C891; PGS: 1020

15. Oak & Olive: Sea Turtle Cork Caddy. AM: B2 FL 18 1818; LVM: C891; PGS: 207

16. Patti Biggs: Maggie jumspsuit. CCC

17. Rightside Design: Embroidered Indoor/Outdoor Manatee pillow. AM: B1 FL8 1009

18. Rockflowerpaper: "Save the Oceans" blu Bag Reusable Shopper. AM: B2 FL16 1621

19. Saltwater Born: "Island Time" shirt. SE: 976

20. ShoreBags: Cargo tote, crafted from heavy cotton canvas; optional shoulder strap. SE: 1459

21. Simply Southern: Simply Southern Key Largo tote with gold logo and a pom-pom tassel detail. SE: 1639; AM: B2 FL6 607

22. The Beach and Back: Signature wave bracelet tension hook bangle. SE: 1670

23. The Petting Zoo: Boho Mermaid with Friend. AM: 1500

24. Town Pride: Custom knit cotton sweater made in the USA. SE: 2228; AM: B2 FL14 1405; CCC

25. Unsalted No Sharks: Crewneck sweatshirt. SE: 1174

26. Water & Wave: La Lisa Necklace from Havana Collection. SE: 1970

27. Xplorer Maps: Reusable canvas tote bags are generously sized. LVM: E650; PGS: 907

14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 25 27 24


Iknow you’ve been told that to grow your sales you just need more customers, but that’s simply not true. This belief is what kept me stuck for so long, working harder and harder but not seeing a big enough return on all that work.

As a store owner, it feels like so many of your challenges would disappear if only you had more traffic. And so you work hard to make that happen. You’re trying to come up with fresh, new ideas while also balancing everything else that has to be done.

We believe that if we want to double our sales, we need to double our traffic, so we just have to keep looking for that magic thing that will finally work. Maybe

if we post a few more times on social media each week or try that new product line, it’ll happen. I bet you’ve added something like this to your plate recently because you thought it would work. Unfortunately, all that work isn’t moving the needle, at least not enough. Have you ever had any of these thoughts:

• “It’s hard to come up with new ideas all the time and then stay focused on their completion.”

• “I just have a really hard time figuring out what is the most important thing for me to do next.”

• “I just assumed that when I opened the store, things would just flow, and they haven’t.”

• “I’ll just have to keep getting more creative to get people in the store.”

More traffic does not necessarily mean more sales. And this is a backwards way to get there.

Let’s say that all these different things you’re trying are working and you have a crowd of people flowing into your store! Great, right? Well, maybe.

But if you haven’t ensured that your margins are sufficient, meaning that you are keeping enough of every dollar that comes in; and if your pricing isn’t strategic; and if your expenses aren’t lined up with your sales so that what you are keeping isn’t going right back out the door to pay your bills, then all those extra customers won’t mean extra dollars in your wallet or bank account.

Here’s a truth bomb for you: If you’re not keeping enough of every sale, more customers won’t make a big enough difference to take a paycheck.

If you keep spending time trying to get people through the door without fixing your margins and your cash flow, what will happen? You will be burned out and you won’t have any more money to show for it. You still won’t have enough to pay yourself or bring on a team to help you. More traffic does not necessarily equal more sales.

Join me at the Coastal Connections Conference, Jan. 22-24 in Orlando, Florida, where I’ll share more strategies to increase your cash flow now, so you can be prepared for your slow season with more peace of mind and a consistent paycheck.

Visit www.coastalconnections for more information, inlcuding how to register, hotel information, session topics, speakers and sponsors.

CATHY DONOVAN WAGNER guides retailers to grow their sales so they can pay themselves and their staff. Watch how here:
If you’re not keeping enough of every sale, more customers won’t make a big enough difference to take a paycheck.

On our radar

Looking for something new to offer? Here are some fresh ideas.

Beyond Cushions

Embroidered skyline pillow collection depicts the culture and beauty of each individual city.

PCF Souvenirs

Customizable metal keychain with anchor conveniently includes a bottle opener.

Guy Harvey

Practical, high-quality Crotons Pinks tote bag featuring original artwork is available in three sizes.

The Slammed Apple Watch band by Groove Life is breathable and features Guy Harvey’s signature blue marlin design.

P. Graham Dunn

“There’s Gnome Place like the Beach” sign features colorful gnome to brighten up any home.

Ocean Jewelry

Octopus pendant features pearls and crystals for a stunning combo for beach lovers to wear.

Yeti Keep drinks hot or cold with the stainless steel Seafoam Rambler with double-wall vacuum insulation.

Beaver Dam Woodworks

Wooden cornhole set features a beach with palm trees for a tropical game-playing experience no matter where you are.

Marmara Imports

Aegean ecru towel set is made from highthread-count, 100% Turkish cotton for extraordinary softness.

Have a product you would like featured? Send a high-resolution image and description to:


A to Z Towels/Dohler Distributor – 27

A.T. Storrs Ltd. – 59

American Style Sunglasses – 31

Atlanta Market – 93

Bags by Bruno – 45

Bali Queen – 63

Bamboo Source Tropical Decor – 57

Bara Boheme – 58

BDry Towel – 29

Beach Biscuit – 5

Beach Memories Jewelry – 41

Beachables – 34

Beaver Dam Woodworks – 24-25

Blue Iguana Sustainable – 35

Brass Reminders – 2

Buddy by the Lake – 49

Caloosa WaterWear – 66

Cape Cod Chokers – 52

Cape Shore – 47

Coastal Connections Conference – 82

Daisy Mae Designs – 52

Destination Jewelry – 9

Dune Jewelry & Co. – 14-15

Fancy That Gift & Decor – 19

First & Main – 13

Flopeeze International USA Inc. – 33

Florida Jewelry & Resort Expo – 84

Florida Sea Turtle Company – 60

GCI Waterside – 100

Gift for Life – 42

Greensboro Gift & Jewelry Show – 86

HS Seashells – 6

Impulse Souvenirs – 99

Inis the Energy of the Sea – 39

Jackie Gallagher Designs – 40

JD Yeatts/Chesapeake Bay – 75

Jilzarah – 69

Joseph K. & Co. LLC – 72

JungleVine Foundation – 32

Kurt S. Adler – 3

Lake Girl – 54

Las Vegas Market – 97

Laura Kelly Designs – 60

Management One – 79

Melissa Lew – 95

Middle Sister Jewelry – 42

New England Made – 89

Northern Tides Studio – 95

Nomadic State of Mind – 77

Oak & Olive – 51

Ocean Jewelry – 23

OC Apparel Show – 80

Patsy Kane – 20

Patti Biggs – 65

Philadelphia Gift Show – 85

Powder Pouch – 30

Pumpernickel Press – 11

RetailMavens – 88

Rightside Design Studio – 53

Rockflowerpaper – 67

Saltwater Born – 68

Sea Lark Enterprises – 20

Seaside Retailer magazine – 81, 96

Shaka Love – 34

ShipShapeStyles – 76

Sugared Mango – 76

Simply Southern – 71

Surf Expo – 87

Old Salt – 18

The Beach and Back – 38

The Cottonseed Marketplace – 22

The Grecian Soap Co. – 72

The Petting Zoo – 21

The Wellington Michael Collection – 61

Town Pride – 43

TownWear – 44

Uniquely Coastal – 55

Unsalted No Sharks – 50

Virtu Made – 73

Water and Wave – 37

Xplorer Maps – 50

IT’S FAST, IT’S EASY, AND IT’S FREE! To sign up for your FREE subscription, visit:
Subscribe today! Seaside Retailer is the only magazine dedicated to beach, coastal and nautical retailers.


Winner: Sunshine State Goods & Apparel

Location: Clearwater, Florida

Owner: Chelsea McMillan

A full 100% of the proceeds from the Flamingo Strong item sales benefit the American Red Cross.

Building a brand that gives back

“Sunshine State Stronger” is the message Chelsea McMillan wants Floridians to embrace. And the vibe flows far beyond state borders, with her mission-focused apparel company Sunshine State Goods & Apparel in the Gulf town of Clearwater, Florida, promoting community support and fundraising for relief efforts across the country.

“We all want to help — you can feel so powerless when a disaster like Hurricane Ian occurs, so we found a way others can help, too,” McMillan says of the shop’s Flamingo Strong fundraiser. All of the proceeds from the sale of T-shirts, tanks, hoodies and mugs bearing the logo benefit the American Red Cross.

“We are all about community support, and this brand is about the people who wear items that represent the Sunshine State,” says McMillan. “It’s about what unites us as people who love Florida; we get orders from people all over the world.”


McMillan was born and raised in Clearwater, and after launching the brand as a wholesaler with some shirts for sale on Facebook, she eventually opened the flagship store in her hometown.

Sunshine State products are sold in other stores like REI, and McMillan has hosted pop-up shops, too. The expanding brand can do more good with more exposure. Proceeds from every purchase benefit the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation, which strives to connect, protect and restore natural undeveloped private and public land.


With previous fundraisers, Sunshine State raised more than $3,000 for Habitat for Humanity in the wake of Hurricane Irma in 2017, and McMillan partnered with the St. Petersburg-based nonprofit Sol Relief to provide supplies in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian in 2019. Sunshine State’s mission has even captured attention from influencers including Spanx CEO Sara Blakely and supermodel Christy Turlington, who have posted social media accolades for the brand.

“I’m very proud of developing a brand that stands for something more than the material item in front of you,” McMillan says. “The people buying our products are buying to donate because they want to help and feel a part of the mission.”

Starfish Awards recognize retail stores in our industry that are making a difference through charitable donations and efforts. Is your store worthy of an award? We’d love to hear from you!

Complete an entry form at

““The people buying our products are buying to donate because they want to help and feel a part of the mission.”
— Chelsea McMillan

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