Many islanders are reluctant to leave the island for any reason and with the holiday season about to commence, shopping “in town” can be a nightmare. For those who would rather shop from the comfort of their own home for items that reflect the laid-back atmosphere our community is noted for, the answer can be found with a click of the mouse. Bokeelia resident, Jim Griffiths recently launched his unique on-line store, “The Bokeelia Trading Company,” where shoppers will find a wealth of items that will provide the gift recipient with a real feel for the island.
Touting his products as “wearable art,” Griffiths has gone to great lengths to provide shoppers with T-shirts and other items that are of the highest quality.
“Since the launch we have been overwhelmed with orders from all over the world. We never expected it to get this big this soon,” said Griffiths. “The up side of this is we have been able to strike a deal with a larger printer who will print our shirts at a much lower cost using the same high-quality cotton Ts. As a result we have actually been able to pass those savings along to our customers and have reduced our prices making them even more affordable.”
While the company is 90 percent Internet-based, products from the Bokeelia Trading Company also can be found at several island locations, including Raymary Street Grill and the Bokeelia Buck Store in Bokeelia, Little Lilly’s Island Deli at the island center, Visions Art Gallery and the Sandy Hook Restaurant in Matlacha, Monroe Canal Marina in St. James City and the Pine Island Chamber of Commerce.
Griffiths has hired several Southwest Florida artists to create the designs found on his company’s T-shirts and canvasses to re-create scenes of island life.
“We are developing new designs weekly to expand the line and give it global appeal,” Griffiths said. “Right now we have eight new designs in production that will be out in a couple of weeks, so I encourage people to visit our on-line store regularly to see new products.”
According to Griffiths, the new designs incorporate a pirate theme as well as a number of fish designs. In addition, one shirt that is sure to be a hit is one that depicts an early Calusa settlement.
The company’s “signature” design depicts an artist’s vision of what the tip of Bokeelia might have looked like if there had been a shipping port at that location 100 years ago. Other designs also depict other significant areas on and around Pine Island and each design comes with the GPS coordinates so that a the purchaser can pin-point the locations of each of the scenes. Other images include scenes found in Southwest Florida, marine life, pirate wear and whimsical characters.
In a continued effort to expand his line, Griffiths also is soliciting work from other area artists and submissions will be voted on for future T-shirts that will be added to the collection.
“Currently all of our artwork is provided by Martin Gembecki, Nancy Graham and Steve Turner, but we are always looking to add new artists with new ideas,” he said.
Gembecki’s designs include “Martin’s Shack” and the “1886 Shipping Port.” Graham is the creater of the “Matlacha Village,” “Bokeelia Village” and “Sea Turtles,” and Turner’s contribution is that of pirate-themed shirts and canvasses.
When visiting the Bokeelia Trading Company Web site, browsers will notice an option called “Our History.” Here readers will find a mock history of the creation of the Bokeelia Trading Company.
“I have had several people ask me how we were able to track down this information and purchase the business and they have a hard time believing that we just made up the story,” Griffiths said. “We thought that the company needed some kind of history so we decided to come up with this fictitious story just for fun.”
Other products that area available from the Bokeelia Trading Company include locally fresh-roasted coffee beans exclusively from Papua, New Guinea, distributed by the Matlacha Coffee Company as well as gift baskets and coffee mugs.
According to Griffiths, many of the designs also include his dog Beau.
“Beau is a rescue dog from Hurricane Charley and has become our mascot, so his likeness appears on many of our products,” he said.
The Bokeelia Trading Company Web site can be found at bokeeliatradingcompany.com
Among the items found at the new on-line store of Bokeelia Trading Company are T-shirts with designs created by area artists of whimsical views of some of the island’s more familiar locations such as this one of Matlacha.