"Life is Good" T-shirts, popular among sports and vacation enthusiasts, greet Saturday morning shoppers as they enter Island Classics Ladieswear. That is but one of the many clothing lines offered by this delightful bayside store located on Sand Key in Clearwater. Island Classics offers many of the upscale tropical designers clothing sought after by those visiting Florida's west coast.
Steve Homburg moved to Florida from Indiana 25 years ago with a degree in Parks and Recreation. He soon found work with friends in a T-shirt business on Clearwater Beach and met his future wife Patti. In 1997, space became available for a gift shop, and the Homburgs moved their business across the bridge to the Shops at Sand Key. By 2003, they had taken over three retail spaces and expanded into retail clothing. "I saw a real need for high-end men's and women's resort wear on the beach and Sand Key was the perfect location," explained Steve. "You have a good mix of customers here with two hotels, condominium visitors and local traffic."
The Homburg family has had great fun in the retail business, but Steve admits that it is a lot of work. "We are lucky to have a great bunch of employees," comments Steve. "Some have been with us for 8 to 10 years and that helps build lasting customer relationships."
Retail on Clearwater Beach is at the mercy of catastrophes, both natural and man-made. Patti jokes that "The city seems to tear up the road every spring break." And weather can negatively affect the store's profits as well. "A lot of tourists packed up and left during the Red Tide, which lasted from June through October of last year," explains Patti "but we persevered and are very optimistic about the store's future at this location."
The first thing to notice when entering Island Classics Ladieswear is the hand-painted floor created by an artist from Key West. Large philodendron leaves, hibiscus and palms nestle amongst a warm brown background. The walls are painted as well; even the fire alarm lighting is designed to look like a tree frog peering out from lush a lush tropical forest.
After spending a few minutes admiring the artwork, your eyes begin to focus on all this store has to offer. Not only does Island Classics feature Tommy Bahama clothing, shoes and even perfume, but also colorful clothing by Jams World and Fresh Produce is found throughout the store. Trendy bathing suit designers such as Tara Grinna and Sunsets share space with more traditional suits by Nautica and Anne Cole. To further accessorize your beach outfit, choose from the selection of beach towels, sunglasses, straw hats, beach bags and sandals.
This store is full of great hostess gifts such as frames, soaps and lotions; activities for relaxing off the beach such as jigsaw puzzles and books; and even two special island salsas to stifle the hunger brought on by a day in the sun.
Island Classics Menswear offers Tommy Bahama shorts, shirts and deck shoes and Indigo Palms blue jeans. Bamboo Cay and Luau fashions are more moderately priced tropical lines in this uniquely Florida men's store. Enjoy the tropical breeze from Clearwater Harbor while shopping for swimwear by New Port Blue, White Sierra and Tommy Bahama. Don't forget to check out the beautiful leather watches and belts before deciding on your final purchases.
The Homburg's son Justin, an eleven-year old baseball enthusiast at St. Cecelia School, already helps with the business. "He loves to run the cash register," explains mom and "We are looking forward to having him work summers when he gets older." As for Justin, he's not quite sure that he'll take over running the store some day. "I would really like to be a doctor," exclaims Justin. And that would be okay with Steve and Patti too.
Visit the Homburgs at Island Classics Men's and Ladieswear in suites #105 and #102 at 1261 Gulf Boulevard on Sand Key, or on their website at www.islandclassics.us.
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