Despite its 44,926 miles of shoreline, Minnesota isn’t exactly known for its swim-and-surf shops. But that didn’t deter Brittany Reger from opening a shop specializing in swimwear and beach accessories for the whole family. Big Island Swim & Surf Company opened near the shores of Lake Minnetonka in Excelsior in late 2012.
“There are a lot of Minnesotans who take off for warm climates in the winter, especially by the ocean,” Reger has explained.
Fast-forward five years later: Big Island has expanded to a second location in a primo spot within the newly expanded Galleria. It comes after the recent openings of Roe Wolfe, Soft Surroundings, Design Within Reach, Barnes & Noble, Cov restaurant, and a new Starbucks, plus pop-ups featuring Ribnick Luxury Outerwear, Excelr8 e-bikes, a Porsche showroom, and Griffin Gallery in the shopping center’s new wing over the holidays.
The idea to open at Galleria came about organically. “The leasing agent for Galleria has been a customer of ours at the Excelsior location for some times,” explains Reger. “We’ve been discussion the addition of swim and resort wear to the shopping center for a couple of years. When we were asked to participate in the new expansion, we jumped at the opportunity.”
Two years ago, Big Island added to its team store manager and buyer Rhonda Ruhland, a retail industry vet and coincidentally a former style specialist for Galleria. It was a move that Reger credits with being a big part of expanding Big Island’s business. “We’ve grown our business to a point where it just makes sense,” Reger says. “Excelsior has been booming, and there’s no better place for a second location than Galleria.”
The new store is similar enough to the original store than shoppers will know what to expect, but at the same time, Reger and her team were able to take advantage of the opportunity to do a build-out to add touches such as white wood ceilings and larger dressing rooms. As for the merchandise selection, the store has brought in a new few brands, including Solid & Striped for women, Vilebrequin for men and kids, Proenza Schouler for women, and Molo for kids.
With the store opening in the midst of the holidays, I asked Reger if the store carries any great gift ideas. “We’ve always sold a lot of jewelry at holiday time,” she says. “Tess + Tricia and Gorjana are both hot right now. For the little ones, we have Fin Fun mermaid tails that are a huge hit. For stocking stuffers, waterproof phone cases are a must. Ours float, which set them apart from most others.”
Check out the store’s new e-commerce site at bigislandswimandsurf.com, and look for the store to host a grand opening event in February.
Now open @ Galleria, France Ave. S. & 69th St., Edina, and at 229 Water St., Excelsior