Sunday Afternoons to open new retail site

The protective sun headware and clothing maker will have store in Ashland

ASHLAND — Transition has been a way of life for Sunday Afternoons.

From its start in Robbin and Angeline Lacy's living room more than two decades ago, the protective sun hat and clothing maker has been on the move, long ago soaring past $1 million in annual revenue, with 30 employees.

About Sunday Afternoons

Name: Sunday Afternoons

Service: Protective sun headware and clothing

Owners: Robbin and Angeline Lacy

Location: 167 E. Main St., Ashland

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

Phone number: 541-488-6155

Website: www.sundayafternoons.com

Email: hats@sundayafternoons.com

Facebook: Sunday Afternoon

Sunday Afternoons' latest retail location debuts Friday at 167 E. Main St. in Ashland — just in time for the summer solstice and throngs of visitors.

The 1,200-square-foot shop marks a return to the company's headwaters.

"Like every small business, we started in the living room," Angeline Lacy said. "Then you move to the kids' bedroom, until you move to the garage. After one summer in the garage we were ready to move."

Sunday Afternoons set up shop on Hersey Street until the Lacys bought the old Talent firehouse a half-dozen years ago and remodeled it into their headquarters. Two years ago, another remodel produced more than 1,000 square feet of retail space.

Meanwhile, Sunday Afternoons began operating a warehouse in Central Point where it stored a line of 70 items produced at home and abroad in Vietnam and China. The company sells its gear — priced from about $24 to $55 — online, through distributors and at retailers, including REI.

Sunday Afternoons began making picnic blankets, drawing its identity from the day when customers went to the beach, lake, park or lounged on their lawn. Trips to craft fairs, art shows and wine shows in the San Francisco Bay Area led to a change in identity.

"We started making hats from left-over scraps from the blankets," she said.

"Pretty soon people were buying more hats than blankets. Our customers helped design the perfect hat. They told us they wanted a neck veil ... or that their hat was blowing off in the wind; so we added a chin strap."

The company's early logo featured a dragonfly. That, too, morphed as Sunday Afternoons became associated with protection from the harmful effects of a sunny day.

"We respond to the marketplace and what happens to the market, making changes, adapting to the changing world, and making it graceful," Lacy said.

That meant adding a line of winter gear a couple of years ago to protect against the cold and rain.

"We make most of our income during spring and summer," Lacy said. "We make less in those other months, but we manage our business then, take a breath, straighten out systems and make improvements."

While the Great Recession was a death blow for many businesses, Sunday Afternoons continued to thrive, suffering through just one "flat" sales year.

"One thing about hats, clothing and sun protection," she said. "People still need them. We're not selling $200 items, we're selling things people can afford — and what people need."

Parking and the need for more space led the Lacys to look around for alternatives.

"We would look around at places for rent in Ashland and think how our store would look there," she said.

Earlier this spring they asked Ashland real estate agent Stephanie Pollard about open locations and found the Main Street location would be available in May.

"We made the decision," Lacy said. "Real quickly."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.



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