Doug “Ducky” Heilmann started his entrepreneurial journey in 1978 with New Braunfels T-Shirt Shoppe next door to his parent’s downtown fabric store on West San Antonio Street. When he purchased the current building on Union Avenue in 1984, he expanded his offerings to include swimwear and sandals.
“We want to be known as the store to come to for basically all of your summer needs,” Nalls said.
When Heilmann passed away in 2017 from pancreatic cancer, his daughters took over the store. Because he was not able to see the store reach its 40th anniversary in 2018, the sisters carried out their father’s remodeling plans, completing the final stages in January.
“We really want to keep the same perception my dad had for the store,” Sandahl said.
Nalls and Sandahl said their father always treated employees like family and often hired the same people year after year.
“Any employee would tell you that my dad was the best boss they’ve ever had, and we want to continue that. We want to be those bosses for our employees,” Sandahl said.
The sisters said their goal is to provide an amazing customer experience for all who enter the store.
“Swimsuits can be a very personal thing for some people,” Nalls said. “They need to feel comfortable, and that’s what we want. We want them to leave here loving their new swimsuit and excited to come back here next year, too.”
Ducky’s stays open throughout the year to give people the chance to purchase unique gifts and swimwear for vacations. It also provides band and choir shirts for New Braunfels and Canyon high schools during the off-season.
“It’s awesome that we’re able to continue my dad’s legacy, but at the same time, it’s bittersweet because we lost our dad,” Sandahl said.
The sisters said they are in it for the long haul, and they want to continue seeing tourists and locals alike shopping for swimwear at Ducky’s.
Ducky’s Swimwear & T-Shirts
272 S. Union Ave., New Braunfels
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Sun.