As the islands of Sanibel and Captiva continue to recover from Hurricane Ian, a trio of iconic island businesses reopened after overcoming various challenges.
She Sells Sea Shells, Nanny’s of Sanibel and RC Otter’s restaurant on Captiva each reopened in recent weeks after getting past setbacks.
For Anne Joffe, who opened the shell shop at 1157 Periwinkle Way in 1974, one of the challenges was finding her battered storefront sign, which is one of the first things tourists see upon driving onto the island. On Sept. 28, the storm’s winds blew it apart, and the tidal surge moved it into the woods across the street. Her children later found it and refurbished it, putting it back in place.
Joffe reopened the store during Fourth of July weekend after dealing with damage created by her store’s biggest nemesis.
“Water,” Joffe said. “The place flooded out. Luckily, my structure and my building was alright. So, I didn’t have all kinds of damage above. But everything in here was ruined. Everything.”
Even the store’s off-island warehouse flooded.
“So, we have spent the past few months, my husband and myself, cleaning,” Joffe said. “Taking it home and cleaning merchandise. Cleaning shelves, cleaning T-shirts. Cleaning jewelry. Cleaning fish. Cleaning sand dollars.”
The cleaning has paid off, with customers returning to She Sells Sea Shells, she said.
“It’s nice to know I’m a landmark,” Joffe said.
For Heather Termini, buying Nanny’s of Sanibel, 1700 Periwinkle Way, last year offered her a great opportunity. The previous owner didn’t want to deal with the post-hurricane hassles. Termini, however, saw the pros in acquiring a business that will celebrate its 41st anniversary later this year.
But just two weeks after Termini bought the business, a fire in the neighboring Jerry’s grocery store caused the sprinkler system to flood the inside of her store, forcing her to close and redo the flooring and drywall, which had escaped the hurricane’s wrath. She reopened March 1 after being closed for most of February.
“I wanted to carry on the tradition,” Termini said. “It was very close to just being closed. That would have been a shame. Because it’s a cute, little store. Every other person who walks in says they were here 20 years ago. It’s baby and children’s clothes. I would say 98% of the customer base is grandmas. It’s cute and quality clothes. Or if someone on vacation forgets something, we’ve got it.”
On Captiva, owner Sandy Stilwell Youngquist and her team at RC Otter’s will cut the ribbon for its grand reopening party at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Contractors put on a new roof. While they were at it, they also raised the ceiling, keeping the dining room the same size but giving it a roomier feel.
“It was a matter of just putting one foot in front of the other and getting the work started,” said Stilwell Youngquist, who bought the restaurant in 2003. “And it took a whole team of us working together to get it done. But we’re all through, and we’re so thrilled.”
Up next will be refurbishing the Keylime Bistro restaurant across the street. She’s planning to reopen it by Sept. 22, coinciding with the start of the Island Hopper Songwriter Fest.
“Our business community has really gotten together,” Stilwell Youngquist said. “We support one another. And really try to recommend people, where to have a great meal, etc., etc.
Little by little, every day, it seems like another store, another restaurant is opening up. The beach is more beautiful than ever.”