The Gay Dolphin was founded in 1946 on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach by Justin W. Plyler and Eloise Simmons Plyler. Justin and Eloise were early visionaries of Myrtle Beach and saw it as a reasonably priced, large tourist destination that would be so much fun, people would return year after year. They worked tirelessly to see that vision become a reality. Over the years, in addition to the Gay Dolphin, Justin and Eloise owned and operated many businesses in the area, including the Tuck ‘Em Inn, Coast Inn, Just Inn, Tom Thumb Mini Golf Course, Seaquarium, Gorilla Land, an Archery Range, a Rifle Range, the Gay Dolphin Park and Kiddieland, the Wild Mouse Rollercoaster, the Beach and Town Apartments, and Plyler-Brandon Sales Company, just to name a few.
Justin A. “Buz” Plyler was born to Eloise and Justin shortly after the Gay Dolphin was founded. Buz grew up in the business: learning the ins and outs from his father, running the Tom Thumb Mini Golf when the help suddenly quit one day, attracting visitors to the attractions along the Boardwalk, and creating carnival games with his father. He took over the purchasing of the seashells for the gift shop at 8 years old and the family discovered he had a knack for it. Over the years, his father turned more and more of the buying over to Buz until he soon became the principal buyer. Except for the four years he was at the University of South Carolina, Buz has worked in the gift shop since childhood. He is the owner and operator today.