By Natalie Strom
Marco Island’s newest apparel shop has arrived just in time for summer. Featuring the latest trends, straight from Miami, Sol y Arena offers hot styles at cool prices.
“This shop is a gift from the heavens!” explains owner, Lidia Tanko. “I love working with clothes, fashion and accessories. I’ve done it all my life.” Thanks to the support of her husband, Andrew Tanko and daughter, Susan Lopez, Sol y Arena offers Latin-inspired clothing that the ladies, both born in Costa Rica, love.
As a tour guide for many years in Costa Rica, Lidia brought clothing buyers to factories all over Mexico, Panama and America. Eventually, Lidia began buying clothes and accessories and opened her own store, Tienda Robin, or Robin’s Store, which she named after her son.
Over ten years ago, Lidia made a decision to move with her three children to the United States. She moved to Marco Island and spoke no english. Upon arrival, she was working in a local restaurant, where she met Andrew, a Hungarian transplant who spoke no spanish. He drove her home from work that first night and they have been together ever since. “The first few months were a little difficult, trying to understand each other,” explains Andrew.
Thanks to Andrew and working in the restaurant, Lidia learned english and has no problem explaining her love for her husband of two years. “After being together for so long, he came to me on his birthday, in front of the kids, and proposed to me. I couldn’t even believe it! I look at him every day and I am thankful.” Especially since Andrew surprised her once more when he handed her the keys to their new store. “I had wanted to do this for so long,” she adds. “I noticed this space was for rent, but I couldn’t get in touch with the real estate agent. Finally, I was able to see the space and I loved it! I asked Andrew and in the beginning he wasn’t so sure, but two days later, he came home with the key!”
Sol y Arena, which means Sun and Sand, is inspired by Lidia and Susan’s Latin roots. “I am really proud to be Costa Rican and I really wanted the name of the store in spanish for that reason. Our logo is even created from a picture of the beach in Costa Rica.”
Lidia and Susan travel to Miami at least every two weeks, hand-picking all of their clothing, shoes and accessories for both men and women. “We offer clothing for every day or to go to the discotheque. You can find a little bit of everything here, and for really reasonable prices,” Lidia continues.
“We have a quality product with affordable prices compared to other places on the island,” adds Andrew. They also feature a second-hand room where customers can find name-brand clothes at incredibly low prices. From second hand to Columbian “butt lifter” jeans to platform shoes to a $20 dress rack to a whole room dedicated to men’s wear, there is truly something for everyone. “People love it. They can buy a new blouse and pair it with a used short without spending too much money,” states Lidia.
“No one really realizes how many young people and Spanish people live on this island. Some don’t have the opportunity to travel to Naples or Miami to get this style of clothing. Being open for only two months, we see how many young people are really here,” adds Andrew. Without any advertising, they have already found great success, even as the island enters into the slower months of summer.
Working full-time at the Snook Inn, Andrew still finds time to make sure that his wife and step-daughter don’t purchase everything in the store for themselves. Lidia also works full time, owning a home cleaning service company for the past nine years. Susan stays busy chasing after her son, Andreas, a recent pre-school graduate.
With a family that is always on the go, the store’s opening two months ago went by rather quietly. “We are always running and so busy, so we thought, how are we going to have a Grand Opening,” explains Andrew. “So, I walked over and turned on the sign and said, ‘We’re Open!” exclaims Lidia.
Sol y Arena is open from 10:00AM to 9:00PM, seven days a week and is located at 909 N. Collier Boulevard, right next to Little Caesar’s Pizza. They may be reached at (239) 970-2460 or visit them on their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/solyarenaboutique.