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Wendy Getchell

Owner, Lotus Boutique

“Business is definitely going in the right direction; we’re showing an increase over last year in the Main Street shop, and I recently opened a second Lotus Boutique on Siesta Key. I have a great local following, and people are spending a little more. Apparel always drives the business, but sales have been very good lately in handbags and jewelry and I’m continuing to grow that part of the business.

“I opened the Siesta Key shop because I’ve always wanted to have more than one store.  It’s a smart business plan; you can move merchandise around, you have a wider audience. Since being voted Best Beach, Siesta Key is becoming more of a popular destination. There’s an opportunity for business here because it’s not as saturated as other areas, plus I have a lot of customers who live and vacation on Siesta Key.”

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John Smithman

President, The Plumbing Place

“After five years of desperation, we’ve been very, very busy for the last nine or 10 months; we’re doing as much business as we did pre-recession. There’s money out there and pent-up demand for luxury homes.

“All the work we did during the slow times to stay in touch with our customers and to fine-tune the showroom while we had time to do it are paying off. We focus on being a luxury, quality source for plumbing, and designers and custom home builders flock here because that’s what their clients are looking for.

“When the recession hit, I held onto every one of my salespeople by changing our compensation plan and going to a rolling four-day workweek. Those people are the key to our success, and we are fortunate that we never lost a soul.”

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Janene Witham

Executive Director, Manatee Players

“Since we opened the new Manatee Performing Arts Center last March—with an increased seating capacity of 126 seats in the main theater and a new, small theater for smaller-scale works—it’s been overwhelmingly positive. We’re projected to sell over 40,000 tickets this season versus 32,000 last year in the old theater. All 16 performances of our August show, Les Miserables, sold out, with 5,500 tickets sold. Our patron base that’s growing the most is coming from St. Pete. We’re being viewed as an easy drive over the bridge.

“We now have two on-site rehearsal rooms that we rent for community events, and that’s going well. I don’t believe there’s a night that goes by that there’s not something going on in the facility, either a rehearsal or rental and sometimes both—weddings, celebrations of life, nonprofit fund raisers, a doctors’ reception, an economic summit.”

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