Thursday, 23 June 2011 09:39

Florida's Top Retailers Honored Just 23 in Orlando

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 1, 2011

Orlando, FL – Norman Love, owner of Norman Love Confections, Fort Myers; Laurie Olshefski, owner of Shimmering Seas Jewelry & Gifts, Panama City Beach; and Jesse White, owner of Sarasota Architectural Salvage, Sarasota, have been named by the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) as the 2011 recipients of the prestigious Retailer of the Year Award. They received their awards at a luncheon held in conjunction with the University of Florida's nationally acclaimed Retail Smarter symposium on Thursday, June 23, 2011, at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida. Dan Doyle, FRF chairman of the board, who is senior vice president of Beall's, Inc., Bradenton, made the presentations.

"We are excited to honor these inspiring, creative entrepreneurs who have turned their passions into successful business ventures," says Richard McAllister, FRF president and CEO. "Mr. Love, Ms. Olshefski, and Mr. White embody the spirit of outstanding retailing through their dedication to their customers and employees, plus their commitment to the communities they serve"

NORMAN LOVE, Norman Love Confections, www.normanloveconfections.com, Fort Myers & Naples

Norman Love has a passion for chocolate – artistically designed, lusciously delicious, handcrafted chocolates. This passion led him to launch Norman Love Confections in Fort Myers in 2001. Using the finest ingredients from throughout the world to create his unique line of ultra-premium masterpieces, Norman has grown his company to be recognized worldwide. With their artistic designs, rich rainbow colors including reds, oranges, and purples, and unique flavors such as Tahitian caramel, key lime and passion fruit, each box of Norman Love Chocolates packs a "wow" factor. Among Norman Love Confections' numerous accolades is being named the top chocolate in the United States by Consumer Reports this year. Norman was honored as one of the "Top 10 Chocolatiers in North America in 2009 by Dessert Magazine, is co-founder of the National Pastry Team Championship, and is a regular guest judge on the Food Network Challenge series.

Norman prepared for his current success by studying pastry-making in France and serving as the executive pastry chef for many years at various luxury resorts. As corporate executive pastry chef for The Ritz-Carlton, he oversaw global pastry and bakery operations, opening 30 hotel and resort pastry kitchens in international and domestic locales including Boston, Dubai and Bali.

In his own business, Norman instills a corporate culture of relentless pursuit of innovation, excellence and quality. He empowers his employees and creates a positive atmosphere conducive to their success. He is dedicated to giving back to the community, with the company donating to more than 300 nonprofit organizations each year.

Complementing his original Fort Myers location, Norman recently opened a Chocolate Salon in Naples, setting the stage for further expansion.

Norman was nominated by Mr. Gary Baker, owner of Professional Insurance Services, Inc., Cape Coral.

LAURIE OLSHEFSKI, Shimmering Seas Jewelry & Gifts I & II, www.shimmeringseas.com, Panama City Beach & Seaside

Laurie Olshefski knew she wanted to be the CEO of a corporation from the time she was teenager. She has successfully realized that goal through LAMO Inc., and realized success as a retailer. Laurie, who has been in retailing for 17 years, currently owns and operates four stores. They are: the Fitness Fetish Family Sport and Beach Shoppe (www.fitnessfetish.com), Seaside, established in 1994; Shimmering Seas Jewelry and Gifts, founded in Seaside in 2002, with a second location added in Panama City Beach in 2008; and Jake at the Beach Life is Good Genuine Neighborhood Shoppe in Panama City Beach (www.jakeatthebeach.com), opened in 2008.

Laurie, along with her husband, John, have created welcoming, fun stores offering unique items at affordable price points. Customers are made to feel special with exceptional service, parties, open houses, and designer trunk shows, among other benefits. Employees enjoy bonuses for working out regularly, continuing education and training support, birthday bucks and incentives in a caring, family atmosphere.

Laurie is an active, positive community leader. She donates time, through her church, to the Anchorage Children's Home and the Autism Education Center in Panama City. A certified yoga instructor, Laurie is an advocate for promoting a healthy body, mind and spirit. She donates yoga instructions to raise funds that support children and women in need, plus donates her time to teach interactive yoga classes to elementary age children at schools and churches.

In addition, her stores support numerous local fundraising efforts as well as contribute to charities that include St. Jude's Hospital, the Panama City Rescue Mission, Susan G. Komen, Bright Point for Children, and the Shriners.

Laurie was nominated by Ms. Beth Oltman, president and CEO of the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce.

JESSE WHITE, Sarasota Architectural Salvage, www.sarasotasalvage.com, Sarasota

Jesse White founded Sarasota Architectural Salvage (SAS) in 2003 with a vision of building a business that served an environmental mission and helped people see the value in reusing and recycling. Blending expertise gained as the owner of an independent consulting firm offering recycling solutions to government entities with his penchant for the environment, antiques and architectural elements, Jesse has guided SAS into a resounding success.

Since opening eight years ago, Jesse has been able to triple SAS's current selling space and offerings. He and his employees find a steady supply of rotating stock by locating buildings slated for remodeling or demolition, and then removing anything and everything of value. They work cooperatively with historical societies and preservation groups. The result is an eclectic mix of architectural antiques and furniture, décor, garden art and building materials. Items range from door knobs to chandeliers and are sourced both domestically and internationally. The company also offers custom wood and iron furniture fabricated from salvaged materials. Ultimately, SAS is a popular draw for the general public as well as the interior design community.

Jesse shows appreciation to his long-term, loyal staff through providing such benefits as flexible schedules and insurance benefits, and recognizing them with random acts of kindness. His customers are treated to Saturday morning coffee and sweets during the winter, and summer holiday cookouts.

Jesse notes that SAS has built their success hand in hand with the community. He promotes a "Buy Local" message, among other campaigns, to help advance all of his area's businesses. Each year the company directs thousands of dollars to non-profit organizations, accepts consignments on behalf of local non-profits, and provides numerous in-kind donations.

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