October 2, 2019

KEVIN WADLOW/Free Press
Men's and women's clothing from dressy to island casual draw local and visiting customers to Latitude 25, now celebrating its 20th year in Islamorada.

KEVIN WADLOW/Free Press Men's and women's clothing from dressy to island casual draw local and visiting customers to Latitude 25, now celebrating its 20th year in Islamorada.

ISLAMORADA — Twenty years later, Islamorada’s Latitude 25 Clothing Co. has lost none of its island charm.

“Once a customer comes in, they come back as a friend,” owner Gail Schneider said this week. “We work to provide an atmosphere that provides happiness and fun.”

That welcome includes dogs, who can enjoy their own pet department stocked with healthy food and pet accessories.

“We love our dog people. When dogs come in, everything stops. It turns into a party with big hugs and healthy treats,” Schneider said. “It’s really a big deal in our store. I hear dogs get mad when their owners drive by without stopping.”

The Upper Matecumbe Key retailer this month celebrates its 20th year in business at mile marker 82.7, offering quality lines of men’s and women’s clothing from fancy to fishing, along with shoes, Havaianas sandals and Florida Keys T-shirts.

That’s only the start of the Latitude 25 experience, Schneider said, noting the impressively sized fish-mount displays of marlin and Goliath grouper.

Tervis tumblers (check out the University of Florida and Florida State designs) and flamingo-themed dinnerware have become popular items. Christmas decorations with tropical designs can be picked up year-around, or stock the bathroom with Key West Aloe or Keys Salt Scrubs products.

“There’s something here for everybody’s taste,” said store worker Eileen Keane, now in her 17th year at Latitude 25.

“We’ve got some nice home decor items like lamps and tables,” Schneider said. “Now we’re getting ready to get back into more home furnishings.”

Schneider acquired the former H.T. Chittum’s building after selling her successful embroidery business and moving to the Keys.

She kept the staff but decided to hold a public contest to rename the store.

“Our employees went through all the entries and they decided on Latitude 25, unanimously,” Schneider said. “Not many people know how we got named but that’s the story.”

Technically, she noted, the store’s actual latitude is around 24.9 degrees north, but close enough.

“We get a lot of visitors, but we truly love our locals,” she said. “We wouldn’t still be here without them.”

During the October commemoration of 20 years in business, mention the anniversary and there’s a good chance it could result in getting a 20-percent discount off regular retail prices.

Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 866-664-4221. Shipping is available.

kwadlow@keysnews.com