ISLAMORADA -- Steve Perri, co-owner of the recently opened In Limbo clothing and general purpose tourist shop on Upper Matecumbe Key, describes the store as "a unique experience for everyone."
He's not kidding.
From the "cell free zone" sign that greets visitors upon entrance, to its bongo-playing co-owner, Rosa Mercedes, to the four small alligators that Perri and Mercedes expect to soon have housed in a pen behind the Mile Marker 82.6 storefront, In Limbo definitely has a vibe all its own.
On a late afternoon last week, for example, In Limbo customers were treated to Mercedes and sales clerk Jasie Foryam pounding bongos in accompaniment to the African rhythms of Baka Gbine, which played loudly on the store's sound system. The loose atmosphere probably shouldn't come as a surprise though, considering that Perri and Mercedes, both well north of 50, describe themselves as hippies.
Perri, in fact, proudly points out that he attended the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969. Meanwhile, Mercedes, a native of the Dominican Republic, likens In Limbo to an old-fashioned island market place.
"In the Caribbean market you can find anything," she said.
Indeed, the merchandise at In Limbo reflects the influence the Caribbean and the 1960s have had on its owners. It includes a wide variety of tie-dyed shirts as well as Bob Marley and Rastafarian ware.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Mercedes' handmade earrings retail for approximately $25. The shop sells Florida Keys novelties, such as shot glasses and conch shells. Multiple clothing racks offer four t-shirts for $10. Bathing suits start at $5.99.
Mercedes also emphasizes the store's collection of '60s rock T-shirts, as well as a wide variety of blouses. Many of the blouses retail for around $30. But for more upscale tastes, In Limbo also carries the French line Monton, with blouses priced at $99.
"I don't want to go too stuffy because I don't think the Keys are appropriate for this," she said. "I think the Keys are to relax."
As of late last week, In Limbo was still waiting on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's approval to house the alligators. They hoped to have them on site in the next few weeks. The couple hasn't decided whether to charge a small fee to view the gators, which will all be 4 feet long or smaller.
Long-time Islamoradans might remember In Limbo from its earlier carnation on the current site of Village Gourmet in the 1980s and '90s. Mercedes and Perri left the Keys 15 years ago and have since operated businesses in Miami and the Caribbean. They returned to Islamorada in March.
"I'm home," Mercedes said.
In Limbo, 82661 Overseas Hwy., is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.