Vicki Rollo; Owner, Heart’s Desire BoutiqueVicki Rollo

Owner, Heart’s Desire Boutique

“Heart’s Desire is a clothing, jewelry and fine art boutique in the Village of the Arts. We’re open only on weekends because traffic doesn’t warrant being open every day at this point, although a few Village shops and restaurants are open daily. We have several hundred on our First Friday walks; it can get pretty crowded. Business is about the same as last year; we’re fairly steady. We have quite a few customers from Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch, and we have tourists from Lakeland, Tampa and out-of-state. I focus on local people because I do so many fashion shows and trunk shows; I have a lot of traffic that comes specifically to see me. We’re excited about the new Riverwalk; it’s going to make downtown Bradenton more cohesive. We’re located not far from there, and there are hopeful plans for a shuttle service to move people around.”

Karen Rangel; Regional director of sales, Ocean Properties Ltd.Karen Rangel

Regional director of sales, Ocean Properties Ltd.

“We have a total of 460 rooms at the Holiday Inn Lido Beach, the Lido Beach Resort and the Hilton Longboat Key in Sarasota, and the Courtyard by Marriott Riverfront in Bradenton. Business is outstanding. We thought last March was record-breaking, and this March was even better—it was a history-making month. What’s promising for us is that it’s been a mild winter up North, and people are still coming. It’s not a case of cabin fever; they really love this destination. We believe the Orioles have introduced us to a lot of people; we’re getting guests from Maryland and the D.C. area. And we’re getting a lot of Canadians as well.”

Sandy Wilson; Owner, SunbugSandy Wilson

Owner, Sunbug

“We’ve been in business on Venice Avenue for 29 years selling women’s resort wear, name-brand swimwear, jewelry, hats. Business is fantastic. We saw it trend early in October and it’s been wonderful ever since. We have a large local following, and they’re buying everything. I think the economy is loosening up a bit; I heard an expression on television that seems appropriate, ‘frugal fatigue.’ Our customers are ready to brighten up their lives with something new.”

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