Adventures in Paradise Outfitters along with a few other displaced Sanibel shops opened in Bell Tower in Fort Myers following Hurricane Ian. The original store was opened 13 years ago on the island by current owner Joshua Stewart’s parents.
Stewart and his wife, Audrey, celebrated their move from the island to the mainland with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, looking forward to their family’s new adventure. “It’s a very beautiful plaza,” Joshua Stewart said of Bell Tower. “We’re just fortunate that we can be here and have an open door.”
The Sanibel location at 2019 Periwinkle Way experienced water damage throughout the shopping center and remains in recovery mode. Despite the damage and journey it will take to return to normalcy, Stewart chose to look at the positives. Since the shop was concrete and elevated, he said damage could’ve been much worse, but there still is a lot of work to do.
“Sanibel is home, I grew up there,” he said. “We built a really great relationship there at that plaza. We would definitely like that to be our spot, but we’re getting really used to things just remaining very fluid with very little certainty.”
The opening of Adventures in Paradise follows a second location in St. Petersburg and a third shop for children called A Little Adventure that opened next door to the original shop six months before Ian hit the island.
Stewart describes A Little Adventure as a complement to the adult store, but for kids and with a whimsical twist. “Any excuse to have fun, hilarious shirts, but then also comic books, toys, glitter pens, all these other things that we just always wish that we had close by but was kind of hard to find, especially out on Sanibel,” he said.
The concept of both shops were combined for the location in Bell Tower, offering products that range from apparel and accessories to toys for adults and children.
Adventures in Paradise is meant for everybody who loves the outdoors, catering to outdoor adventures and outdoor lounging. It evolved over the years into a shop for coastal living.
“Really, we just go out and we buy a lot of stuff that we really like and hope everybody else likes it too,” Stewart said. “That’s sort of the main gig, but we have a lot of fun too.”
The shop carries about 30 different brands like Patagonia, Faherty, Marine Layer, OluKai, Southern Tide and Tommy Bahama, along with smaller brands.
“Getting lines that complement each other so you can have them all in the same store sets us apart,” Stewart said. “It makes it a little bit more unique than if you went to like just one brand store and you can only get what they have. Whereas here, we can have one brand but then we can also combine it with all sorts of other things.”
The new Bell Tower location is open as a pop-up store until April, with the intention of pursuing something long term in the shopping center at the corner of South Cleveland Avenue and Daniels Parkway.
“Initially when we came here, we were really on our back foot after the storm,” Stewart said. “Bell Tower has always been in my mind for a long time and they had lots of open spots.”
Stewart and his family, living in Fort Myers at the time, began asking their friends on the island who were also shopkeepers about their move, many of whom also had Bell Tower on their minds. “It was nice that we kind of all started to congregate in this one location,” he said.
Adventures in Paradise, located in Suite 183, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.