June Marks 50th Anniversary For South Moon Under

June Marks 50th Anniversary For South Moon Under
The original South Moon Under location in Ocean City is pictured in a file photo. Submitted Photo

BERLIN – A retail company founded in Ocean City will celebrate its 50th anniversary next weekend.

This month, South Moon Under will celebrate 50 years of business with a weekend of discounts, giveaways, trunk shows and more.

Since 1968, South Moon Under has grown from a small Ocean City surf shop to a national brand with 31 locations up and down the east coast.

Chief Executive Officer Michael Smith attributed South Moon Under’s beginnings to founder Frank Gunion, who opened his first store in Ocean City while a student at George Washington University.

“It started as a surf shop,” he said. “He (Frank) brought in men’s swimwear because it’s hard to make a living just selling surfboards, and after a few years he started bringing in women’s swimwear and then it evolved into women’s apparel.”

Smith said he and his wife, Chief Creative Officer Patricia Smith, met Gunion in 1995 and began consulting with South Moon Under shortly after selling their business, White House Black Market, to Chico’s FAS in 2003.

“When we moved back to Annapolis, we reconnected with Frank and started doing consulting with him,” he said. “I always liked South Moon Under because it always had the feel of a brand that you could roll out. It had a great connection with the customer, a great assortment and a great experience.”

Smith said he, his wife and other investors partnered together to acquire a majority share of South Moon Under in 2016. Gunion, they noted, still serves on the company’s board of directors.

“In the last 12 months we have opened eight new stores,” he said. “It took South Moon Under, the original business, 35 years to open eight stores. Our job, when we came in, was to share this beautiful brand with a bigger customer base.”

While the business has evolved into more of a “women’s lifestyle brand,” Patricia Smith said South Moon Under offers upscale, casual clothing for both women and men.

“We have a unique mix of in-house designs and favorite brands,” she said. “We curate our products so it’s versatile, easy to wear and easy to put together.”

While e-commerce accounts for 12 percent of the company’s business, Patricia Smith said customers continue to visit their brick and mortar locations for the experience.

“People want to come to our stores because we offer an experience,” she said. “When she (the customer) comes into the store the clothing feels good and it’s always changing … We are also focused on creating friendships with customers and knowing customers by name.”

Despite its growth, Patricia Smith said South Moon Under remains true to its Ocean City roots.

“We are laid back and casual,” she said. “The beach is the inspiration, so the clothes are easy to wear and they’re fun. They are modern, but wearable.”

As a way to thank customers for 50 years of business, South Moon Under locations will offer discounts, giveaways and an opportunity to win a $500 shopping spree. The celebration will take place over the summer solstice weekend, June 21-24.

“We are making it fun to shop,” Patricia Smith said.

South Moon Under will also launch a new initiative to support the Surfrider Foundation as part of its 50th anniversary celebration. A portion of proceeds from each commemorative 50th anniversary t-shirt sold will be donated to the nonprofit.

For more information, or for store locations, visit www.southmoonunder.com.

Planned anniversary sales at South Moon Under stores in Ocean City and Rehoboth include Thursday, June 21, 15 percent off swimwear, plus an exclusive give with purchase (while supplies last); Friday, June 22, 15 percent off T-shirts and tops; Saturday, June 23: Free People Trunk Show, plus Mystery scratch-off offers (valued up to 50% off one item); and Sunday, June 24: 15 percent of shorts.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.