August 2010

Q: What Do All Of These Items Have In Common? A: FUNKEY MONKEY

Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Looking for a bold piece of jewelry to make an outfit pop? Need a distinctive handbag that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? How about a unique accent for your home, an unusual gift or special souvenir? Head over to Pope Avenue and keep your eyes peeled for a door flanked by a large, over-stuffed monkey, sitting in a beach chair, wearing a cool pair of shades. Step inside for completely different shopping experience at Funkey Monkey, Hilton Head Island’s newest and most unique specialty store.

Open since February, 2010, tucked away in a nameless shopping strip (between Aunt Chilada’s and the Visitor’s Center), Funkey Monkey is quickly earning its place as a “must see” for visitors while becoming a frequent stop for locals as well.

According to owner, Alicia Tugwell, people are intrigued by the name and drawn in out of curiosity. They aren’t quite sure what to expect, and she revels in their surprise and delight.

“Visitors find the name memorable and want to take back souvenirs that say ‘Funkey Monkey Hilton Head,’” she said, pointing out colorful plush monkeys wearing tiny T-shirts emblazoned with the store’s logo. But souvenirs are a small part of the store’s eclectic inventory.

Tugwell’s flair for the unusual emerges in the selection of fashion jewelry, handbags, home accessories and giftware. “I’ve never been afraid to do something different,” she said, admitting that Funkey Monkey is a direct reflection of her independent nature and unique personal style. “There’s something nice about making a statement,” Tugwell added, flashing a smile and modeling a large flower ring. “Just put that on with [a simple outfit], and look how cute that is!”

The store is divided into separate rooms, allowing customers to leisurely peruse them all or hone in on a particular category of interest. For example, the back room is devoted to artwork, including prints by local impressionist, Candace Lovely, and a few other area artists. Another room is dedicated to unique accent pieces for the home, including pillows, statues, sconces, candlesticks and much more.

Up front, you’ll find earrings, rings, necklaces, key chains, handbags, evening bags, beach bags, shopping totes and other fashion accessories. Additional nooks and crannies display gift items and personal treasures such as decorative frames, stationery, jewelry boxes, Clic eyewear and Votivo soy-based candles. The “Kids’ Corner” features jewelry, handbags and souvenirs for the younger set. And there’s even a small section featuring unique kitchenware.

“We try to keep it fun so there’s something for everyone,” said Tugwell.

Besides the intriguing merchandise, it’s the attached tags and stickers that astonish. Tugwell prides herself on carrying specialized products at an affordable price. For example, you can pick up a great looking pair of earrings for as little as $8-10, a fabulous handbag for less than $50 and a sophisticated home accent for well under $100.

The Funkey Monkey experience is further enhanced by the charisma of its owner. Cheerful and spirited, Tugwell has a talent for turning customers into friends and vice versa. In fact, she says that interacting with people is one of the greatest joys of her job.

“I get everybody’s story,” she said. “I tell people where to go [for food and fun]. And if I had a dollar for every direction I gave…”

Tugwell’s friendly persona and dedication to customer service has served her well throughout her career. Originally from Arkansas, fresh out of college, she landed a prestigious ad sales position with FOX television. After ten successful years, she moved to Dallas, Texas, where she sold television ads for CBS for eight and a half years. The impetus to leave it all behind, she said, was the desire to provide a higher quality education and safer environment for her son, Taylor.

So, she loaded up the Hummer…Yes, she drives a Hummer. “It’s not that unusual where I came from,” said Tugwell. “In Dallas, you’ve gotta be king of the road!”

Today, Tugwell says she made the right decision to move here. Taylor, a recent graduate from Hilton Head Prep, is headed to USC this fall. Meanwhile, Tugwell is enjoying the break from the corporate world and the opportunity to express her creativity.

The store’s catchy name attracts attention, and that’s exactly what Tugwell intended. “I wanted a name that people would remember and like. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to sell or focus on, so I wanted it to be generic,” she said. She found inspiration on a sign board in a South African village while on safari with Taylor. “They were selling woven baskets or something,” she said. “The name is fun, and I’m an animal lover.”

Tugwell has followed through with the jungle theme in the store, but in a tasteful way that doesn’t overpower or detract from the quality and beauty of the merchandise. A bamboo tiki bar with a grass thatch roof sets the tone and serves as the check-out counter. Animal-themed rugs and merchandise scattered throughout tie it all together. As the finishing touch, Tugwell plans to line the ceiling with tree branches and lanterns. She said, “I want people out there saying, ‘you’ve gotta go see that store.’”

Funkey Monkey is located at 71 Pope Avenue, next door to The Grumpy Grouper. Store hours are Tuesday-Saturday, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Stop in today and dare to be different! For more information, call (843)715-0512.

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