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Alvin's Island panama city beach

Alvin’s Island, Panama City Beach, FL A one-stop shop before hitting the beach by Jennifer Schaefer.

A fun store to hit when you’re in Panama City Beach is always Alvin’s Island. Whether you need to do some serious shopping — you don’t have a bathing suit, or you need something to wear to the club later; or you just want to browse at the trinkets — shot glasses and salt shakers — it can be found at Alvin’s. The store seems to go on and on. Stairs lead up; stairs lead down. A maze of twists and turns lead you into tunnels or out to watch the alligators sunbathe. They’ve got beach towels, suncreen, beach mats, and sun hats. You can get a custom airbrushed T-shirt, or stuff your own animal. In the summer they usually have alligators you can watch from a safe distance, and if you like alligators you can even buy an alligator head or an alligator foot. I brought a friend, who was visiting from Europe, to one of their seven locations in Panama City Beach, and he looked in horror at the alligator heads. He shook his head and said, “I know they killed them.” Luckily, they did not. At least not just for their heads and feet. The souvenirs are made from scraps from the leather and meat industries, so we can all rest easy over that one. I thought what my friend has said was cute, because I’d never given the gator trinkets a second thought. I’d seen them all my life, and to me they are just part of the business.

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