Eileen Wallace, Owner, Write-On
I didn’t have great expectations going into it—knowing what the economy is like—but we’re doing fine. We’re doing weddings; that really helps. People today are purpose- and price-conscious. They used to come in for a specific item and go ahead and pick something up for themselves and maybe an aunt, too. Now, they just buy what they came in for; and, if it’s over $50, they will look for a lesser price point. I have cut costs by doing much of the printing in-house. I also combine my shipments and give shipment end dates, so it will be here in time for fourth quarter—not summer.
Gianni Valenti, Co-owner, Valenti’s Ristorante and Allegro Bistro
It’s turned out to be a very good season—March was insanely busy—although check prices have decreased. We are selling cheaper bottles of wine. Rather than buy a full-course meal, customers are choosing not to have an appetizer, dessert or dinner wine. Food prices from veal to tomatoes to flour and mozzarella have gone through the roof, so we’ve cut some suppliers from two or three days a week to one day a week. But you have to bite the bullet and eat the cost if you want to keep your customers coming back.
David Teitelbaum, Manager, Anna Maria Island Resorts
January and February were brutal for the Northeast, and people had trouble getting here. But toward the end of February, it picked up, and March was gangbusters—our best season since 2004. We don’t believe in dropping rates. People want specials, and those are very effective. We offered incentives for longer stays and ended up totally booked.
Janice Riordan, Owner, Seaside Chic
This season started off slow, but by the end of February, we started to feel the energy. People are coming in hopeful, and it feels revived. A lot of research goes into their decisions; they do not want to spend their money the wrong way. They are doing things that they have been putting off for years—like new furniture and upholstery. People are choosing items that will make them feel good. Instead of a typical set, we might sell more artistic collections and things that are playful.
Sarasota/Bradenton International Passenger Counts