Emerald Isle would not be Emerald Isle without Fran Austin. There have been many people that made Emerald Isle what it is today, but no one has contributed more to make Emerald Isle the great place it is than Fran Austin. To many people, a vacation to Emerald Isle was not just a trip to the beach, but more importantly a trip to Fran’s Beachwear which Fran opened 40 years ago.
Fran has sold Fran’s Beachwear and is leaving the area, but Fran’s Beachwear will continue. Fran’s Beachwear has been purchased by Aqua Beachwear (www.aquabeachwear.com) of Ft. Myer’s Florida owned by Mary and Don Bauer. I talked to Mary Bauer and she said “We plan to "let the legend continue" with Fran's Beachwear. I am thrilled to say that Kim Papanicolaou will remain with us as Store Manager, along with the rest of the ladies on staff with Fran's. Fran herself is quite impressive and the business she created speaks volumes about her business savvy and capabilities.”
Mary went on the say “We immediately felt right at home in Emerald Isle with the beauty, barrier island beach community, and respect for the natural environment as it is reminiscent of Sanibel Island, FL, where our original store opened in 1974, and where our home is. We have a small chain of swimwear stores, primarily in barrier island resort environments, with a focus on being the best swimwear store. We are hoping to "wow" everyone in Emerald Isle when we reopen March 1st.” Talking to Mary was just like talking to Fran and I think Fran’s Beachwear will continue to be that warm friendly, quality swimwear shop that it has been for so many years.
Fran has many close friends in the area, but there are many more very close friends that only come to visit a week or two every year, from all over North Carolina and many other states. They have been coming to Emerald Isle for the last 30-40 years and every time they walked into her store, she made them feel that they were one of her closest friends. Many wives told their friends they were going to Emerald Isle to fish with their husbands, but what they really meant was they were going to shop at Fran’s.
Who can ever forget those Black Cat Halloween sales? They were on everyone’s calendar as a “not to miss”. Every year I hear stories from vacationers that a visit to Fran’s is one of the highlights of their vacation. The following comment by our Town Clerk, Rhonda Ferebee is typical of the comments that I hear. “My main memories about shopping at Fran’s are the wide variety of styles to fit every phase of life – I’ve been in there for baby suits, pregnancy suits, bikinis (many years ago) suits for young kids, tweens, teens, etc. - you could always find something there that fit your current style.”
Glad to hear the Fran’s Beachwear tradition will continue.
Don’t miss the Emerald Isle Christmas Parade at 3 PM on November 24. Parks and Rec will also be having an Arts and Crafts show Friday night November 23 and Saturday November 24.