A store with personality and a sense of purpose

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Sunshine & Sand Hidden Treasures has it all, including a desire to help make a difference

By Jane Bartnett

Searching for that special something to keep the magic of Siesta Key in your heart or home?

Look no further than the Sunshine & Sand Hidden Treasures boutique on Midnight Pass Road in Crescent Plaza, where you’ll discover a wealth of hidden tropical treasures. Shop owner Dawn Henson’s carefully curated items are not only colorful, fun and hard to resist, but they are — as she says — “products with a purpose.”

Store owner Dawn Henson organizes her cheerful merchandise. (photo by John Morton)

As the store’s owner, buyer and manager, Henson selects items that give back. There are socks that benefit Doctors Without Borders; aprons, oven mitts and towels that help organizations that fight hunger; and beach towels and blankets that return part of their proceeds to saving marine life.

When Henson opened the store in 2017, she decided that she “Wanted to offer something different, offer products that give back or help the environment. I pride myself on being a unique one-of-a-kind shop,” she said, thoughtfully.

Local Siesta Key artists and crafts people are well represented at Sunshine & Sand.

“I carry numerous local artists’ work,” Henson said. “We feature artwork, jewelry, and home decor items and lots of other specialty items.”

Strolling through the store, beautiful decor for the home includes local paintings and prints of Siesta Key beach scenes and wildlife. Having something in your home from Siesta Key is a great way to keep memories alive of happy days on the beach and in the village.

Whimsical hand-painted glasses, cheese boards, and salt-and-pepper shakers are sure to add a happy vibe to any kitchen.

True to her mission to offer items that make a difference, in the front of the shop Henson offers bright and colorful flip-flops featuring tropical designs for men and women. Not only fun to look at and comfortable to wear, these flip-flops also help the environment because they are made from recycled rubber. No matter where your travels take you, slip a pair of these flip-flops on your feet and you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported back to the white sandy beaches of Siesta Key. 

A few steps away, there’s a large selection of great-looking sunglasses and readers made from natural fibers as well as recycled materials. The sale of each pair of these cool “shades” helps someone in-need who will receive a pair of glasses. 

Ladies who love Siesta Key’s iconic lifeguard stands will want to take home a pair of beautiful, brilliantly colored leggings that depict the Key’s blue, yellow, red and green lifeguard towers. Sunshine & Sand Hidden Treasures is the exclusive dealer of these special leggings, designed by a local artist.

A wide selection of T-shirts and hoodies made from recycled plastic bottles are found at the back of the store. The fabric has a soft, silky feel making them remarkably soft to the touch. They come in a selection of colors with beach and environmental messages. Choose one to wear to the beach or as a gift for someone special.

Tasty treats are also in store at Sunshine & Sand. Be sure to check out the local Florida sea salt used for cooking, Sarasota’s own Tiger Fire Hot Sauce, and Tennessee Whisky barbecue rub.

Candles, small gift items and sea-inspired gifts for children are also here.

As Henson prepares to celebrate Sunshine & Sand Hidden Treasure’s fifth anniversary this November, she is proud of what she’s accomplished. A native of Columbus, Ohio, Henson learned about small business as a girl in her parents’ print shop. As an adult, she moved into the corporate world at Limited Brands in Columbus. 

An entrepreneur at heart, in 1997 she left Limited to start her own home-based business, providing office support to a variety of retail businesses, lawyers and “everything in between,” she said.  Looking back on those days, Henson recalled, “My kids were young and it allowed me to be the room and a football mom while still earning money.”

When her youngest child went off to college in 2011, Henson moved to the Siesta Key area and continued running her business virtually.

Opportunity knocked on her door when, Henson said, “A lady who had a different shop here told me she was retiring.”

Henson said she decided to open her type of gift shop because so many other shops carry the same type of items.

“I wanted to offer something different. My shop has a lot of fun/funny things,” she explained. “I get to hear people laughing all day as well as seeing their joy when they find that perfect hidden treasure.”

Sunshine & Sand Hidden Treasures is at 6635 Midnight Pass Rd. Visit its Facebook page or call (941) 346-0226.

Jane Bartnett
Author: Jane Bartnett

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