In 1993, Jim and Peggy Hardy founded Sand Dollar Shoes in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The newly retired couple was simply looking for something to do and decided to open retail store selling Birkenstock, a German comfort shoe. Sand Dollar Shoes was the first location in Alabama to start selling Birkenstock. They had been popular in various parts of the country decades earlier. Mr. Jim predicted these shoes were making a comeback. With a $15,000 investment in inventory, Sand Dollar Shoes generated about $1 million in sales.
The 400 square foot original location only had 4 chairs to sit customers for fittings and a line out the door of customers ready to purchase. The Hardy’s added another “Euro-comfort” shoe line called Mephisto and ended up more than quadrupling in size. By the mid to late 90’s, Sand Dollar Shoes had expanded to locations in Orange Beach, Foley, and Mobile, Alabama.
In 2009, Jim and Peggy’s son, Jeff Hardy, took over the reigns. Mr. Jim remained on as a managing partner. Sand Dollar Shoes and Comfort Footwear merged to form Sand Dollar Lifestyles. In 2010, Sand Dollar Lifestyles was to reach a pinnacle in our growth when tragedy struck. We were hit with one of the worst national and local economic downturns, The Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Like many other businesses affected by this oil spill, we were in a financial spiral due to a sudden halt in tourism.
Jeff put his head down and went to work with local politicians to push for reimbursement on claims. With the mayor and congressman on his side, Jeff succeeded in his claims and was able to keep Sand Dollar Lifestyles on the map.
Jeff wanted to do something to give back to all of those who have supported us throughout all of these years. In 2017, The Sand Dollar Lifestyles Summer Experience was born. Holding multiple events per year, Sand Dollar Lifestyles provides a free concert and raffles off thousands of dollars in prizes at their location at The Wharf. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for announcements regarding the Summer Experience dates for 2018!
Sand Dollar Lifestyles now has five locations throughout the southeast US including: Orange Beach, Foley, Mobile, Gulfport, and Ridgeland. We are looking forward to opening more locations in the future.