Resort-based company recently opened its 18th location; additional stores to come
South Moon Under’s 18th store opened on Oct. 5, in the Mosaic District in Fairfax, Va. A grand-opening party is scheduled for Nov. 13.PHOTOS COURTESY SOUTH MOON UNDER(Nov. 2, 2012) South Moon Under’s first store, a small surf shack, opened in the summer of 1968 in Ocean City and since then, the company has expanded, opening its 18th store in early October.
“We were originally a full-on surf shop with swimwear and some clothing,” Owner Frank Gunion said of the first South Moon Under, which was located around the 33rd Street area. “Today, we are a contemporary clothing store for men and women. While we still have some surf lines, we are clearly oriented to contemporary men’s and women’s clothing. Also, [we] have lots of shoes, swimwear, jewelry and items for the house.”
According to Gage Lester, director of sales and marketing for South Moon Under, the business outgrew its midtown space and in the mid-1980s was relocated to 81st Street, the store’s current location. The corporate office occupied the upstairs area until 2001, when the space was needed for merchandise to be displayed, he said. South Moon Under now has a corporate campus and distribution center in Berlin.
South Moon Under’s first store, a small surf shack, opened in the summer of 1968, near 33rd Street in Ocean City. It was a surf shop with swimwear and some clothing.PHOTOS COURTESY SOUTH MOON UNDERThe intention was to expand after the first store. The second South Moon Under opened in Bethesda, Md. in 1989, Lester said.
“Generally, growth for us is a combination of needing to have enough size to remain competitive in the fashion world and to provide opportunity for growth for our staff …We endeavor to thread the needle of being large enough to make the economics work, but small enough to be able to be unique and to feature small independent ‘indie’ manufacturers,”
Gunion said. “We have 70 people working in our Berlin home office and they are all very talented and want the thrill of new challenges along with economic growth for themselves. As head of the company it is my duty and in South Moon Under’s best interests to provide that for them.”
South Moon Under stores can be found in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The company’s 17th location opened in the Ridge Hill Shopping Center in Yonkers, N.Y. on Sept. 7. A grand-opening celebration was held at the store on Oct. 18.
South Moon Under’s 18th store opened on Oct. 5 in the new Mosaic District in Fairfax, Va. A grand-opening party is scheduled for Nov. 13 from 6- 9. Famed style blogger Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere will be signing copies of her book. Guests will also be treated to cupcakes and cocktails, and will receive 20 percent off all purchases. There will also be giveaways throughout the night and a special “swag bags” will be distributed to the first 50 guests.
“While we are a much larger company today, we still hold to the ethos that was created during our time as a surf shop,” Gunion said. “The ethos embraces individuality, consensus building, high-level work balanced with time to go surfing or whatever the activity of choice happens to be for each staff member.”
The company is adding two to three stores a year, which Gunion said in the retail world is a very small number, but an amount that feels right for South Moon Under manage- ment. New stores are planned in New Jersey and Virginia in 2013. Gunion said it is exciting when they open a store and see the public’s reaction.
“We feel we offer something that is missing in most people’s shopping experiences. We feel in our own way that we provide a service valued by the public and want to share it with them,” Gunion said. “Our e-com (e-commerce) site is gaining traction all across the country, including highly competitive markets like New York, California and Texas. People like the fashion that we cherry pick for their consideration and they like what we call the ‘unexpected service’ they receive. So we are very proud of what we do and want to deliver it to more people, but at a pace that doesn’t compromise our ethos.”
Lester said staff members aim to provide service beyond what the customer expects. The goal, he said, is to help people look good and feel better about themselves. Employees are trained to style customers.
“We want to provide a more personal experience. We try to identify and meet customer’s needs,” Lester said. “We get fresh merchandise in all the time and we have many customers who come in several times a week. We know a lot of them by name. We have a great relationship with our customers.”