Causeway retailers gain floor space

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NEW LOCATION — Longtime Naples business owners Harry and Kirsten Hewes pose with some of their merchandise in front of their new storefront on the Causeway. The Hewes, who own SunSports+ and Laughing Moon, recently purchased the Gazebo Tee’s property. (De Busk Photo.)

NAPLES — When his parents purchased the Gazebo Tee’s property recently, 11-year-old Ryan paced out the distance between the newly-acquired corner lot and the former location of SunSports+.

“Our son paced it out step-by-step. He took 247 steps. So, we are only 500 feet away from our old location,” Kirsten Hewes said.

On Jan. 19, Kirsten and Harry were geared up for winter as they began to set up shop inside the unheated, two-story Gazebo Tee’s building — the new home for their longtime Naples businesses to expand.

For 18 years, Harry Hewes has operated SunSports+ at its location near Rick’s Café. Kirsten ran Laughing Moon, which sells women’s clothing and accessories.

In the last quarter of 2011, the Hewes purchased the building and property from local businessman Henry Turcotte.

The couple plans to focus solely on their combined retail store and using the floor space to really showcase merchandise and promoting recreational water sports.

The Hewes are happy about the increased floor space. The move from the building SunSports+ had been leasing means going from 800 square feet to 3,000 square feet, Harry Hewes said.

“It is more space, which will make it so much nicer to display things. People don’t have to come in and ask where something is or leave because they don’t see it,” he said. “With more space, customers can find things and have a better shopping experience. It gives us a whole lot more floor space to carry different lines and expand into different categories.”

SunSports+ plans to offer more stand-up paddleboards that can be purchased or rented. Paddleboards are similar to surfboards, but the rider stands on the board and uses full-length paddles to maneuver in the water.

“It’s fun because it doesn’t require a whole lot of balance,” Harry Hewes said, adding the Lake Region is a perfect fit for this popular water-recreation activity.

“People in other parts of the country have been (paddle boarding) for a couple years. It’s just making it into the Northeast now,” he added.

In addition, SunSports+ will provide people rental opportunities on wake boards, tubes, and water skis.

“We will give lessons, too. We take people out and give them instruction by the hour,” he said.

Some people are familiar with water skiing, and they sign up for a lesson so they can learn a new move or improve a technique, he said.

“But, most people want the basics, and to get out there on the lake,” he said. “We do a lot of wake surfing… you don’t have to go to the ocean to surf, you can do it behind a boat now.”

Harry said he and his wife had no interest in working in the food service or restaurant business, right now.

“We are raising a family. The food business is too time consuming,” he said.

So, the Hewes will lease out the Causeway Dairy Bar, the seasonal fast-food eatery and ice cream spot.

The Dairy Bar building will expand upward with a second floor plus a deck, according to Naples Planning Board Chairman Larry Anton.

“They will be putting a deck above the overhang so the ice-cream customers can have a place to go other than standing outside,” Anton said recently.

The plans were approved at the board’s December meeting, Anton said.

He added since the construction did not create an additional footprint and the building provided adequate bathroom facilities and water supply, the planning board decided the plans answered any major environmental concerns.

“We approved it. It was a no-brainer,” Anton said.

According to Harry Hewes, former owner Turcotte will be doing that construction project in the spring.

Meanwhile, the grand opening for the new home of SunSports+ will be in April.

After almost two decades doing business on the Causeway, the Hewes believe they have enough local customers to support the business staying open from April through the Christmas shopping season.

Online ordering provides a portion of SunSports+ sales, and it is easier to ship merchandise from the place of business than from home, Harry Hewes said. This provides the perfect opportunity to execute online purchases and man the store during the off-season hours.

The store carries jeans and other lines of clothing that are popular with area teens.

“A lot of kids are into the brands we sell,” he said.

During the summer, swimwear and dresses are the hot items. When fall rolls around, “We might do winter accessories likes hats, mittens, gloves,” he said. SunSports+ will continue to sell Maine t-shirts and sweatshirts that Gazebo Tee’s carried.

“We are super excited to be here,” Harry Hewes said. “We are going to be able to offer men’s and women’s clothing under one roof finally.”

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