Advertising Networks of Florida

Island retail sales soar during ‘greatest ever’ season

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Kaci Patsios, left, and Tami Funkhauser of the Bridge Street Bazaar, 117 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach, were busy the past three months. The store was full of shoppers and miniature golfers just about every day. Islander Photos: Rick Catlin

Members of the Soundrol family from St. Louis enjoy the Fish Hole Adventure Golf course April 25 at the Bridge Street Bazaar, 117 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach.

A record number of visitors to Anna Maria Island during the February-April period this year helped retail sales follow their accommodation cousins to seasonal success.

As direct spending by visitors to the island the past three months totaled just under $300,000, according to the latest Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau report, many in the local retail industry said it’s been the best season ever for sales.

Signa Bouziane, co-owner of Mister Roberts Resort Wear, 5330 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, should be one to know.

Her father opened the clothing store more than 40 years ago and she and sister Linda now operate the business.

They grew up on the island and worked at the store as youngsters. Together, they’ve seen great seasons for sales and not-so-great seasons. This one, however, tops them all, Signa Bouziane said.

“It’s been the greatest-ever season for us,” she said.

“Absolutely fabulous, and we’re still busy here in late April. I hope traffic continues through the summer,” she continued. “I hope it never ends.”

Similar comments came from Laura Shely of Tide and Moon Jewelry, 314 Pine Ave., Anna Maria.

“We’ve been so busy we had to open on Sundays to take care of everyone. I’ve been in retail 21 years and this was absolutely my best ever season,” Shely said.

And the demand for her handmade Anna Maria Island silver pendants has been terrific, she said. The only problem was finding time to craft more of the pendants, Shely added.

“They have definitely been my No. 1 seller,” she said.

She’s still busy and open seven days a week. “I’m hoping summer will be just as good,” she said.

At the Bridge Street Bazaar. 107 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach, owner Jake Spooner said retail sales were better than last year, but cool weather kept some visitors away from his adventure golf course, The Fish Hole.

“It was a bit cold in March and early April. The golf was still good, and retail sales up from last year. We did great and I have to check the figures from April to say it’s been the best ever season,” Spooner said.

“Don’t get me wrong. I’m very happy with the season and the Bridge Street Merchants … is doing a lot to bring visitors to the street,” he said. Spooner is treasurer of the organization.

Bridge Street Interiors co-owner Deb Myers said she and husband Matt had a very successful season at the boutique and interior design store, 114 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach.

They were so busy, they had part-time staff to help with the flow of visitors to the shop, which this year celebrated its 10th anniversary on Bridge Street.

“Who would have thought we’d make it 10 years?” said Myers. “We did, but Bridge Street and the association have really grown to make all the retail stores here vibrant.”

Jessica Foraker of Pink and Navy Boutique, 210 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, said clothing and shoe sales were excellent during the season. This is the store’s third year in business, and Foraker said it’s been the busiest in sales since the grand opening in 2010.

Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman said she’s had nothing but good reports from retail members for the January-March period.

“And many indications are that our summer will be a very busy one for accommodations, restaurants and the retail trade,” she said.

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