Manager, Tarpon Pointe Grill & Tiki Bar
"We opened 19 months ago on the Manatee River just east of Manatee Memorial Hospital. Our main restaurant seats 185, and we can handle 200-plus at our outside tiki bar, plus we have a 92-foot yacht that can hold up to 40 guests for private parties.
"The new downtown Riverwalk has had a nice impact on our business. We've done a lot of marketing at the Riverwalk to let people know we're here, mostly by handing out flyers. We also helped sponsor the Bradenton Blues Festival and hosted a blues night following the event.
"We're also doing our own events: paddleboarding and kite-boarding demonstrations, wave runner races. We donate a portion of the proceeds to Manatee Children's Services and to veterans' charities. We're very community oriented; I'm working right now with the Lakewood Ranch High School theater club that's planning a mystery dinner-theater night here."
Co-owner, New Balance Sarasota, Fleet Feet, Molly's and The Snappy Turtle
"We're still enjoying growth mode after 10 years in business. In the last two years, we've expanded and now have five retail stores with a total of 33 employees. The backroom efficiencies allow us to enjoy the fruits of our labor on the front of the house.
"Sales are up at our two New Balance locations. We're just into our first full year after taking over the Fleet Feet store in Southside Village, and we're seeing progress. We'll eventually need to move that store for more visibility and space. This is our second year at Molly's boutique for women, and we're right at 10 percent growth over the first year. Our tourist business there is enormous.
"And I own a children's store in Gulf Gate Village called The Snappy Turtle along with my mother and sisters; it's a way for us to do something as a family."
Director of Marketing and Development, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
"Ticket sales are ahead of last season, even though we have fewer shows. It started early; when single tickets went on sale in September, we made $50,000 over September 2011. Our Black Friday Weekend sale was very successful, too; we decided to jump on the bandwagon like other retail businesses, and we got several shows' approval to offer 20 percent to 50 percent discounts. We did over $50,000 just on Friday, Nov. 23, alone.
"The quickest sellers are our pop headliners. A lot of our chestnuts like Johnny Mathis and Paul Anka still do very well, and we have new things; Queen Latifah and Sheryl Crow are here for the first time this season. How exciting is that?"