Island Time owner is fashion veteran
Although recently having moved Island Time to Matlacha, owner Kristy Iannelli is no novice when it comes to fashion. She purchased the store three years ago, when it was still in the St. James City Century 21 Plaza, but she has been in fashion retail for 35 years.
“I studied fashion merchandising in school,” said Iannelli. “In 1989 I opened my first store on Fort Myers Beach.”
Her love for working with people grew over the years making it an easy decision to continue in the industry when she moved to the island. One of the things she appreciates about working on the island in particular is dealing with tourists.
“They’re on vacation, they’re happy,” said Iannelli, who remembers being a waitress at one of her father’s restaurants, saying people are far less happy when they’re hungry and waiting to eat than when they’re shopping.
Iannelli notes the generational changes on the island over the past few years, saying she gets a whole new crowd in Matlacha, especially with COVID-19 scaring many older people from coming out to purchase new clothes.
“I’ve kind of had to change it up a little bit,” said Iannelli. “It’s a matter of hanging on, you really make money four months out of the year, it’s got to carry you all year long. When you don’t have season it really hurts you.”
Counting on the support of locals is nothing new for any islander, and Iannelli is no different. She said she is keeping some of her previous lines while incorporating new ones to accommodate her changing clientele with a variety of new items, such as T-shirts, beach bags and soaps.
She said she’s very excited about her new location, as well.
“All the people have been so nice,” said Iannelli.
Being able to cater to her patrons with one-on-one service is one of the many reasons Iannelli feels her store is a fun and welcoming place to shop.
“You know them,” Iannelli said. “You know what colors they like, what sizes they wear, what style they like — once you get to know your customers, it’s easy.”
She admits due to people visiting the island, it’s often difficult to anticipate what items will be hot sellers from one day to the next, although she said it’s a welcome challenge.
While she intends to do everything in her power to cater to her long time customers, Iannelli is looking forward to a bright future in her colorful new shop.
“Island Time is fun,” Iannelli said, “it’s a fun shopping experience. We try to be different than any other store.”
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