How is your shop different than other stores? If I can’t tie it in with the museum, I can’t sell it. I tell people that when they buy something they’re feeding Snooty, because he is our biggest expense.
How busy is the store? Because tourism’s picked up on Anna Maria Island, July’s our busiest month now. Probably 100 to 125 people a day. On Snooty’s birthday (July 21) we get about 4,000 people.
What are your most popular items? Anything with Snooty on it. I have a back-scratcher, a nail file and wine glasses all with manatees on them, an entire wall of manatee T-shirts, salt and pepper shakers shaped like manatees, magnets, wind chimes, socks, pajamas.
How hard is it to find the manatee motif? It’s my quest. I go to shows in Orlando, and if I find two new things with a manatee on them, it’s a good day. A company that makes a dolphin or a flamingo could sell that in Kansas. But you can’t sell a manatee in Kansas because nobody knows what it is.
How does this job compare to others you’ve had? I worked in regular retail for years, and this is much more pleasant. The people are lovely and nobody comes in mad, which is why this—a little more than 15 years—is the longest I’ve stayed at any store I’ve worked at.