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.
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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.
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