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Unveiling “Flagler Beach First!”: A Common Market for an Uncommon Island City

| July 1, 2011

flagler beach first frank gromling carol fischer joseph pozzuoli

New sign, new concept. (© FlaglerLive)

Last week, Frank Gromling, owner of Ocean Publishing in Flagler Beach, appeared before the Flagler Beach City Commission to present Flagler Beach First!, a new concept in local business promotion focused on the city’s merchants. His remarks, prepared with Carol Fischer, owner of the BeachHouse Beanery and Joseph Pozzuoli, president of the Flagler Beach Chamber of Commerce, follow.

By Frank Gromling, Carol Fischer and Frank Joseph Pozzuoli

I’m happy to say that I am not here to complain or to ask for any money. I’m here to share with you a project I believe will produce significant results for our community. That project is called Flagler Beach First!

I represent 13 business owners in town who have come together to initiate a plan which has two major components: business promotion and resident education. These components are the heart of Flagler Beach First!, a grass-roots campaign to help Flagler Beach become a more vibrant community where our businesses have a greater chance for success and our residents and visitors are more aware of the community benefits resulting from their purchasing products and services from Flagler Beach businesses.

Simply put, being in business in Flagler Beach is a more risky proposition than it would be in many other communities. This is because we are an island location, with a small population, largely dependent on tourism. When the town lost its only hardware store and auto parts store, then a convenience store, and several smaller businesses, it became increasingly obvious that, if businesses were to survive in this national economy and local environment, we needed to create a different model.

In March, April and May, Carol Fisher of The BeachHouse Beanery and Joseph Pozzuoli, architect and president of the Flagler Beach Chamber of Commerce, and I met to discuss the problems and the possibilities for a business enhancement program.

Frank Gromling, left, Carol Fisher and Joseph Pozzuoli. (© FlaglerLive)

Frank Gromling, left, Carol Fisher and Joseph Pozzuoli. (© FlaglerLive)

We considered past attempts to organize the business community and found them lacking in one respect or another. Basically, none of them worked. We accepted the fact that various groups and individuals sometimes were at odds. We analyzed the city government’s role in all of this, both real and perceived, and decided that for any plan to succeed it must do so without dependence on city leaders, infrastructure, or finances.

On June 9 we met with 10 other business owners, who we call our core group, and laid out our ideas and draft action plan. Everyone agreed with the need and guiding principles of FBF! And signed on to take it to the next level—implementation of the action plan, which is now being finalized. You will hear much more about FBF! in the coming weeks as we introduce our logo, posters, handouts and more, including  our Mission Statement, which is: “To provide an effective method for Flagler Beach businesses to promote each other and to educate residents and visitors about the importance of purchasing products and services from businesses in Flagler Beach First.”

Our core group will approach licensed business owners in Flagler Beach to explain the program and to enroll them as active partners. FBF! has no formal organization, or titles, or dues to participate, other than the willingness to work together for the good of our community. When there may be costs for materials or other items, we will share those costs across every business. Our plan calls for very strict control on expenditures, so costs will be minimal.

I hope you are as pleased with this concept as we are. It does not ask the commission for anything other than your emotional and mental support. We appreciate the cooperation we have received from Acting City Manager Bruce Campbell and the city’s staff.

This project is driven by the business community to help itself and to benefit our larger community of residents and visitors, who we will educate about the financial contribution our businesses provide to the city. Generally speaking, when a dollar is spent in a locally-owned store, 68 cents of that dollar stays in the community, whereas a dollar spent in a chain store or other establishment outside of Flagler Beach does us little good, other than through the confusing tax base controlled by the county and the state. The reality is that if our businesses fail, the city’s image is tarnished and homeowners’ taxes will be adjusted upward to make up the loss of business tax revenues.

While we recognize that Flagler Beach businesses do not provide every product or service that our residents or visitors need, we know that there are far more products and services available right here than most people even know about. Through our new detailed business directory soon to be online and in print form, everyone will know what we offer and where to get it. A driving thread through our business promotion efforts will focus on the question, “Is there something else you need that a Flagler Beach business can provide and can I help you find it?” Then, through active promotions, residents and visitors will be encouraged to shop Flagler Beach First!

As we move forward, we will keep you current with our progress. We look forward to the fulfillment of our dream, and our plan, to have a more vibrant business community, and a more vibrant city of residents and visitors who recognize the importance of shopping Flagler Beach First! Just as has been accomplished with the reenergized Flagler Beach First Friday program, we are confident that we can and will create a re-energized and cohesive business community for the good of all.

The core group of Flagler Beach First! businesses is as follows:

Frank Gromling, owner Ocean Publishing
Joseph Pozzuoli Architect, owner JPA
Phyllis Schlemmer Carmel, Owner Crone’s Nest
Teri Pruden, director Flagler Beach Historical Museum
Dan Sullivan, owner Sully’s Surf and Skate
Michael Akialis, Oceanside Grill
Marina Helm, owner Beyond Bliss Day Spa
Dona Bross, owner Uptown Fashions
Jimmy Mason, owner Mason Music
Marge Barnhill, owner G.O.L.A and Village Emporium
Tom Keegan, owner AGP Publishing
Carol Fisher, Owner BeachHouse Beanery
Nicole Mazie, owner The Big Easy Cafe

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11 Responses for “Unveiling “Flagler Beach First!”: A Common Market for an Uncommon Island City”

  1. B Stone says:

    Where will the Farmer’s Market merchants fit into this plan? We all are dependent on visitors and residents in Flagler Beach for our livelihood. Many have dropped out of the market due to marginal sales recently, and many are struggling to stay in business. We draw business from out of the area to the local businesses.

  2. bugm says:

    I agree with B Stone. After running our meat market in Flagler Beach for 22yrs. Friday was our biggest day of the week thanks to the Farmers Market. The Farmers Market is an important link to the sucess of any business in Flagler. Any time we can generate people to come into our town on a regular basis it can only help all the people working so hard to make a living here.

  3. elaygee says:

    Bad idea. More Flagler Beach residents are employed at “chain stores” and places of business outside Flagler Beach so discriminating against them will help unemploy your neighbors.
    How about making Flagler Beach a friendlier place to visit? or more memorable? or develop some customer loyalty?
    We moved here after a stay at a Flagler locally owned beachside inn where they treated us like family. How about getting greedy landlords not to chase away successful establishments like Manny’s and others by jacking up the rent when they get crowded.

  4. lawabidingcitizen says:

    Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    It’s the retirees who pay the bills in Flagler Beach and the county as a whole, not the merchants. Businesses, especially the large chains and franchises, take their profits back to their home bases, few, if any, of which are in FB or for that matter Flagler county. Let visitors come if they wish, but we don’t need to spend money luring them here and then pay the bill for the trash they leave behind or the traffic and crime they bring with them.

    Apparently, next weekend there’s to be a three day lacrosse tournament at Wadsworth Park. Per the article, The tournament is expected to bring at least 65 teams and more than 1,000 players and their families to the area …

    What the article didn’t say is that Wadsworth Park isn’t set up to accommodate a crowd of that size. It’ll be a mess and residents in that area will bear the brunt of it, but local merchants may benefit and afterall that’s what counts around here.

  5. Jordan says:

    I beg to differ with “lawabiding”….off the top of my head most of the businesses that I frequent in Flagler Beach are owned by folks that live here. Also, I just checked the 2010 census and out of the 4,484 people that live here only 1,428 are 65 and older! So, you are not paying all the bills. More importantly, you never learned “How to build a Healthy Town 101″…the majority of the bills should be paid from the business sector keeping the private sector’s share at a minimum. Please do us a favor….if you are in office quit and if you aren’t please don’t run.

  6. Bill says:

    How about getting some attractive locations that people actually want to visit. You do not have any nice restaurants (BLUE?). Its the first city I have seen where smoking is encouraged everywhere indoors which is so backwards I cannot describe it. Need some nice restaurants and shops. Maybe just one fast food chain store? just for drive thru capabilities. Greed of current store owners holding the city back.

  7. Justice for All says:

    Why is it when people move or visit from another area, they immediately want to make it like the place they left? Fast food chains with drive throughs? Why? Get out of your car and enjoy what we have while we have it.

  8. Flagler is Great says:

    Flagler Beach has many wonderful little shops and restaraunts. Quite a few of those shops are customers for the Farmer’s Markey as well. Frankly, If we bring more business into Flagler Beach, we all win. Plus, the residents that live here can save on gas if they shop locally as well. I think this is a good idea and let’s not prejudge this idea before it’s put into action.

  9. NortonSmitty says:

    Since I moved here, I think we have about the perfect balance of residents. Roughly 1/3 retired, 1/3 working and 1/3 old hippies and business people that cross the line to be old hippie businesspeople. They can’t agree on much, except for the fact that we don’t want to be Boca or New Jersey with Rattlesnakes like Palm Coast, a McDonalds would be the kiss of Death to life as we know it, and absolutely no condo’s. So not much gets changed, nothing in a hurry, and we all prefer it this way. Which doesn’t stop us from complaining about how things are to each other constantly. This makes us a bitchy little Mayberry by the Sea. God, I love it here!

  10. NortonSmitty says:

    And Bill, you forgot Baguettes. We have to drive all the way to Palm Coast to get a decent Baguette! This is truly a Hell on Earth!

  11. curious says:

    Bravo!!!!!!! It has been a long time coming that the businesses get together and support each other. The City government should not be the only one trying to help make it viable. I am proud to see this vision finally come to fruition.

    Nay sayers, we know who they are….. go back to the rock you crawled out from

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