If you drive through Lutz, you’ve probably seen the sign and wondered: Just what is clothing for the “free spirited”?
You’re not the only one.
For 16 years, Under the Sun has drawn shoppers from throughout the Bay area and beyond to the trendy, treasure-filled boutique.
But daily, the same thing happens.
At least one person will stop in and say they’ve been driving by for years and never stopped, boutique co-owner Renee Christian said.
Then they leave happy customers.
“We have unbelievable customer loyalty,” she said. “We spoil our customers rotten.”
The store’s longevity is a tribute to its success in a business that, at first thought, might sound unusual.
Because—wait—nudists like clothes?
“Nudists love clothes, we just don’t want to wear them all the time,” Christian said.
Nudists like to travel and attend themed events, she said. “We want comfort, versatility and easy packing,” Christian said.
“We have way more luggage than regular folks because we like to have a lot of looks,” Christian said. “And our clothes last forever because we only wear them a couple of hours at a time.”
The store isn’t just for nudists, though. They have plenty of non-nudist customers, as well, Christian said. Many of the store’s items are custom-made for the boutique, so anyone looking for something a bit different will likely find the perfect piece for a beach or resort getaway.
The store’s most popular items are cover-ups and tropical wear, Christian said.
“We stay tropical year-round,” she said. “We also stay in the same color ranges so you can always come back and add pieces.”
Under the Sun also carries men’s clothing, shoes, handbags and jewelry. At “moderate prices,” Christian said. Cover-ups range from $25 to $59.
Before opening the Lutz location in October 1996, Christian and co-owner Tom Thielges sold their tropical-inspired attire poolside at Paradise Lakes for ten years.
The business “just evolved,” she said.
As a poolside manicurist at the nudist resort, Christian got a lot of attention for her fashion sense.
“People would always remark on the clothes I wore,” she said. So she started selling them.
“I had to feed the monster,” she laughed.
And feed it they have. Through the years, the Lutz location grew from one space to several in the strip center.
Now, the duo is scaling back a bit, condensing the store into a smaller space, in order to focus on the items that really drive the business while freeing up time for them to start working on their bucket list of travel destinations.
“It’s just been a fabulous ride.”
Under the Sun, 1703 Dale Mabry Hwy, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.