Bonnie Rasmussen grew up in Iowa, but moved to Big Sur, California where she honed her retail résumé. She owned and operated a gourmet food store that offered lunches and catering. Later, she managed Big Sur Lodge while owning the gift shop and two grocery stores in the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. When her mother needed help closer than 2,000 miles away, Bonnie moved to Lake of the Ozarks. Seven years later, in 2009, she bought the building now known as Under the Sun, a boutique selling cards, lake decor, gifts, garden flags, sandals, clothing, purses, and accessories.
Under the Sun stands out for reasons other than its bright red, welcoming facade. Garden flags line the front porch and wave in the breezes. Many of them read “Welcome” and feature butterflies, flowers, or honey bees. They are cheerful and carry a good mood from first view to the shop inside. The store’s windows also show off colorful new clothing and accessories, but so much more awaits through the doors.
I stopped one day after we had first moved to Missouri. I was surprised to see the store open. So many businesses close their doors once the tourists and second-home visitors depart after Labor Day. I found the owner, Bonnie Rasmussen, kind and friendly, and I found a unique card that the recipient later asked about, wanting to know just where I’d found it. I also met Mocha, Bonnie’s chocolate Labrador. We’ve been the loving, proud caretakers for a black and chocolate Lab so Mocha had my heart even before I saw how welcoming and polite she is. I’ve since learned that Mocha’s greetings bring people back again and again. Mocha has fans, and I confess I’m one of them.
What makes Under the Sun most unique is its mission: to deliver a personal shopping experience unavailable in large department and big box stores. Bonnie wants customers to look their best and have fun while choosing clothes and accessories to achieve that great look. On Saturdays, she may even serve a bit of champagne to add some zest to the girl's-day-out shopping experience, but men's clothing and sandals are available at Under the Sun: So if the whole family goes shopping, the men may find something they need as well.
Under the Sun stocks clothing, sandals, and merchandise that may not be found elsewhere. Rasmussen chooses styles and fashion that customers won’t find back home or even at the outlet mall. One new item features the Lake of the Ozarks on cozies, coasters, plastic tumblers, and doormats. These are representative of the gift and décor items that people cannot find elsewhere.
From Camdenton, drive north into Sunrise Beach to 8 Sunset Hill Drive. Expect to meet Mocha and find unique merchandise. I predict you’ll become a regular customer, especially because this is not a 100-days of summer boutique. Under the Sun (573-374-2001) is open year-round although the hours are fewer outside those 100 days.
In a way, Bonnie Rasmussen is as adventurous as her children are. She opened a business in 2009 when many others were closing their doors. She knew that Jane Mack, owner of Portside Boutique, was ready to retire. Bonnie also knew that Jane had a strong niche market that could be maintained and grown so Bonnie approached Jane about buying Portside Boutique’s fixtures and connecting with its suppliers. Then Bonnie set out to expand the merchandise year by year. For example, with the American people growing larger, many designers now offer their clothes in sizes up to 2X. Bonnie stocked some last year, and they sold well. She plans to increase the quantity this year.
Rasmussen’s two children followed her example. They each own businesses. Her son, Trey Kropp, owns Wilderness Wireless, an IT firm. Daughter, Shana Kropp, owns an IT security firm. Each still lives on the California coast. Son Trey is an avid hang glider and posts his adventures online for his blog, Above the Sur. Daughter Shana prefers under the sea; she is a devoted scuba diver and divemaster
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