Spring 2018
The Captain’s Mermaid Boutique, Key West, Florida By Hilary Daninhirsch

Funky, colorful, retro and unique are just a few descriptors that come to mind upon entering The Captain’s Mermaid. A quote by Anais Nin painted on the front window tells you everything you need to know about life: “I must be a mermaid; I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”

The boutique gift shop, open since 2013, is owned by Kristiann Mills, a Key West native who has had a lifelong love of mermaids. The store is located in the Key West Historic Seaport in the Old Coca-Cola Bottling Court. The seaport is a popular venue for tourists that also include restaurants, entertainment and outdoor activities.

“Our busy shopping season starts mid-February through July, and we are happy to have many whosits and whatsits galore.”

– Kristiann Mills, owner

The Captain’s Mermaid owner Kristiann Mills.

If the name of the store didn’t give it away, mermaid merchandise sells swimmingly at The Captain’s Mermaid, such as their mermaid or nautical-inspired jewelry, mermaid art, and especially their swimmable mermaid tails, the latter of which is their specialty, a bestselling item for both children and adults.

Other mermaid-inspired gifts include mermaid pouches, mermaid wall décor, mermaid mesh totes, and mermaid stemware. “Our busy shopping season starts mid-February through July, and we are happy to have many whosits and whatsits galore,” quipped Mills.

“To date we are the only mermaid store in sunny Key West,” added Mills. She said that many customers saunter in from the resorts across the street and the nearby marinas, buying not only mermaid-themed gifts but resort-wear and beach sand jewelry. Because the store is also for captains, she also sells many items adorned with anchors. Even the coral and sea green interior evokes images of mermaids.

Mills said that Key West is “small but mighty,” and while it may be small enough to fit inside the Miami airport, there is so much to do and so much history on the tiny island.

“I would have to say that next to meeting all of the customers, my favorite part of owning the boutique would have to be being the buyer. As the owner and the buyer I enjoy going to market and trade shows to find new mermaid treasures throughout the year,” said Mills.



Hilary Daninhirsch

Hilary Daninhirsch is a freelance writer with more than a dozen years of writing experience covering business/marketing, retail/merchandising, human interest, etc. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two daughters.

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