In 1978, Donald and Mark Hess co-founded their first retail store together. The father and son duo began in a small shop with Donald managing the store and Mark airbrushing shirts for customers. Their unique style of products and customer service was a winning combination. Over the following decade, the pair would grow the business to multiple locations and add many new items to their stores. As they grew and the business developed, Blue Island Beach Company was formed.
Sadly, Donald passed away in 1992. While the Hess family mourned this loss, they came together to carry on the vision with Mark leading the charge. Mark wanted to preserve the original store he and his father created so it remained Blue Island Beach Company.
With the turn of the millennium, Mark began expanding the business across the beach. In 2001, Mark built Big Willy’s Surf & Swim in an area of PCB where there was no development. Years later, Big Willy’s still stands and now serves as an iconic photo spot among visitors!
Building continued with west end locations in Pier Park, Latitude 29 and Salt Life by Latitude 29, and an east end location, Seaside Swimwear. As Mark completed his vision of opening stores along the beach, he became ill and passed in 2018. But, just as Mark did in the early 90’s, the Hess family carries on his tradition today.
Now, in its third generation, Blue Island Beach Company has served the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches for over 40 years. As we continue to grow, the focus is the same now as when Donald and Mark first opened the doors – to provide our customers with unique, quality items and exceptional service.