For Immediate Release: May 25, 2017
CONTACT: James Miller This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

Carroll, owner of Crestview’s growing popular BBQ restaurant, was selected as the recipient of retail trade association’s prestigious award for his service to customers and community

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association celebrating its 80th year in supporting Florida’s retail industry, today named Michael Carroll, owner of Hub City Smokehouse & Grill in Crestview, as its 2017 Florida Retailer of the Year. This is the 19th year in a row that FRF has selected a retailer of the year, and Michael will be honored with this prestigious award during a special luncheon on June 8 at the Vinoy Renaissance Hotel in St. Petersburg. Ray & Jody Hetchka of Kayak Amelia in Fernandina Beach and April Meier of Pawsitively Scrumptious Bark Bakery & Boutique in Crestview will be recognized as Outstanding Retail Leaders during the ceremony.

“We are proud to honor Michael as a tremendous representative of Florida’s retailers and the impact our industry can have both on our customers and community,” said R. Scott Shalley, FRF President & CEO. “Michael’s contributions locally, via his service on multiple non-profit boards and significant time spent volunteering, highlight the many ways that retailers are making a difference throughout Florida.”

Michael and his wife started the small Hub City Smokehouse & Grill in 2011 in a five table, 900 sq.ft. section of an industrial strip center. After gaining a well-known name and loyal following, Hub City moved to a location on Main Street in 2015. Creative endeavors such as shot glasses traded for BBQ, personalized aprons for regular customers, and unique menu offerings helped the business grow. Michael, who is retired from the U.S. Air Force, volunteers extensively in his community serving on boards of Main Street Crestview and the Crestview Local Planning Agency, has held positions with the Rotary and is active in school district and city youth programs. He also supports projects such as Wounded Warriors through Hub City.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the Florida Retail Federation as the 2017 Retailer of the Year, and I want to thank FRF for this award and for their continued commitment to our industry,” said Michael Carroll. “I also want to thank my wife, Loretta, our dedicated customers, and our incredibly hard working team at Hub City Smokehouse & Grill for their focus on excellent customer service, as well as service to our community.”

Two other retailers will be honored as “Outstanding Retail Leaders” for their commitment to the retail industry and their community. These retailers will also be recognized at the 2017 Florida Retailer of the Year awards ceremony in June:

Ray & Jody Hetchka | Kayak Amelia | Fernandina Beach
Since their beginnings as a “Mom and Pop” kayak operation 21 years ago, the Hetchkas have grown their business to offerings that include guided kayak, Segway and stand up paddleboard eco-tours, self-guided bike and kayak rentals and an earth-friendly gift shop. The couple has served on and worked with numerous boards and organizations that promote the Amelia Island / Fernandina Beach area and tourism in Florida. They donate their boats and other services for fundraisers. Coordinating with the National Park Service, the Hetchkas support the Timucuan Rangers, a program which brings children from Jacksonville’s urban core out to the beach.

April Meier | Pawsitively Scrumptious Bark Bakery & Boutique | Crestview
Retired Air Force veteran April Meier started this retail store located in downtown Crestview four years ago. The business provides holistic pet foods and typical pet toys and accessories. April is active in numerous business organizations and also mentors other business members. Her singular efforts raised over $65,000 toward the completion of the Crestview Bark Park, which is scheduled to open this summer. She also helped raise funds for the Crestview Police Department to purchase two working canines and provided north Okaloosa County Area Fire Departments with “Waggin O2 Fur Life,” Aubu-Bag kits to assist with life-saving oxygen masks for pets that might be involved in a home fire, among other efforts.

The Retailer of the Year award, sponsored by FRF since 1999, honors Florida retailers who blend sound business practices with commitments to their communities, customers and employees. FRF issues a statewide call for nominations, with the award open to both members and non-members of the non-profit trade association. Eligible retailers are all those who work for, own, or operate a Florida retail business that has an annual sales volume of $5 million or less. Nominations were received from communities around the state. A selection panel made up of small business owners and other retail experts ranked nominees based on their scores in several categories, including community service and business acumen.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
The Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide one out of every five jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year. For more information, visit the FRF website, and follow FRF on Facebook and Twitter.

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Published in Media Relations

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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Published in Media Relations

For Immediate Release: February 2, 2017
CONTACT: James Miller This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

State’s leading advocate for retailers seeks nominations for deserving retail businesses; deadline for nominations is Monday, March 20

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association celebrating its 80th year in supporting Florida’s retail industry, is now accepting nominations for its prestigious Florida Retailer of the Year award, which recognizes an outstanding retailer for sound business practices, and a commitment to their employees, customers and communities. Nominations must be submitted by Monday, March 20.

“As FRF celebrates its 80th year in advocating and supporting Florida’s retailers, we are excited about recognizing the best our industry offers with our annual Retailer of the Year award,” said FRF President/CEO Randy Miller. “We ask all consumers to support their favorite retailer by nominating them for this prestigious award.”

Eligible retailers are those who either own or are employed by businesses with sales volume of $5 million or less and have a physical presence in the operation and/or management of the retail business. People interested in nominating a retailer may nominate more than one, self-nominations are allowed and the retailer does not have to be an FRF member. Nominations can be submitted online by visiting FRF.org/ROY and completing the nomination form, email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mail to 227 S. Adams St., Tallahassee, FL 32301.

The retailer selected as Retailer of the Year will be recognized before a statewide audience during the Retail Smarter Symposium Thursday, June 8 at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg. The Florida Retailer of the Year award was started in 1999, and was awarded last year to Lisa Mergel of Kanvas Spa & Boutique in Tallahassee.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
Founded in 1937, the Florida Retail Federation is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year as the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide three out of every four jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year. In fact, more than three out of four of Florida’s budget dollars come from retail-related activity.

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Published in Media Relations

CONTACT: James Miller This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

Mergel, owner of Tallahassee’s popular Kanvas Spa & Boutique, was selected as recipient of the retail trade association’s prestigious award; Jacksonville and Central Florida retailers recognized as “Outstanding Retail Leaders”

Lisa Mergel

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 75 years, today named Lisa Mergel, owner of Kanvas Spa & Boutique in Tallahassee, as the 2016 Florida Retailer of the Year. She will be honored with this prestigious award during a special luncheon on June 9 at the Vinoy Renaissance Hotel in St. Petersburg. Kristin Keen of Rethreaded in Jacksonville and Debbie Farah of Bajalia International Group in Winter Park will be recognized as Outstanding Retail Leaders during the ceremony.

“Lisa is a tremendous representative of the positive impact that retailers and the state’s entire retail industry have made on Florida, by not only helping their customers, but their community as well,” said FRF President & CEO Randy Miller. “We are proud to recognize her accomplishments of providing world class products and services in her store and providing world class help to those in need outside of it.”

Opened in 2007, Kanvas is a locally-owned one-stop shop, catering to clients for all their skincare, cosmetic and wellness needs, including facials, massages, body wraps, spray tans, nail services and make-up applications. Kanvas also offers a diverse mix of merchandise including French milled soaps, cosmetics, fine lingerie, candles and unique gift items. Kanvas sponsors the LeMoyne Chain of Parks Art Festival, FSU Opening Nights, Junior League Operation Prom Dress, the Tallahassee Animal Shelter Foundation’s Tail & Trails and the Young Actors Theatre.

Lisa came into the retail industry by starting out working for many major skincare lines in New York and at various Neiman Marcus stores, traveling from Boston to Texas doing facial events. Lisa wanted to help others discover their true beauty, and in 2007, she moved back to Tallahassee to open her company. Since then, Kanvas has been a staple of the Tallahassee business community including moving into a larger location just five years after opening and expanding their product and service offerings.

“I am honored to be selected as the 2016 Florida Retailer of the Year, and I want to thank the Florida Retail Federation for their continued support of our industry and for shining the spotlight on the larger role that retailers can play in their local community,” said Lisa Mergel. “I also want to thank my incredible team at Kanvas for their hard work, support and dedication towards ensuring that all of our customers have the best experience possible.”

Lisa’s contributions to her community are extensive. Since moving back to Tallahassee, Lisa has volunteered with the American Cancer Society’s Look Good, Feel Better Program, been a board member of Keep Tallahassee/Leon County Beautiful, a member of the Tallahassee Garden Club, Elder Care Meals on Wheels and a board member of the Tallahassee Italian American Club. Lisa also gives back to her community by donating to the Big Bend Habitat for Humanity, Elder Care Services, American Heart Association, Boys Town and Tree House.

Outstanding Retail Leaders

Two other retailers were honored as “Outstanding Retail Leaders” for their commitment to the retail industry and their community. These retailers will also be recognized at the 2016 Florida Retailer of the Year awards ceremony in June:

Kristin Keen | Rethreaded | Jacksonville
Rethreaded is a social entrepreneurship that is helping to break the cycle of the sex trade by offering viable and creative work to those who were affected by the sex trade but have since found freedom from it. Executive Director Kristin Keen lived and worked for five years in Kolkata, India where she encountered the life-stealing effects of the sex trade on a daily basis. Rethreaded has positively impacted the lives of over 2,200 women around the world by “upcycling” donated t-shirts into beautiful original creations while also selling products crafted by these women. Kristin provides specialized training for a vulnerable population that comes from severe trauma and a limited work history. She and her team show these impacted employees that retail is a viable business and they can build a career from their work experience at Rethreaded.

Debbie Farah | Bajalia International Group | Winter Park
Founded in 2009, Bajalia International Group is a certified jewelry, fashion accessories and home décor e-retailer. Bajalia’s goods are handmade by artisans in emerging economies in 28 different countries, and through their social enterprise business model the company connects consumers with the stories of the sustainable global impact. Bajalia works to ensure living wages, workplaces free of exploitation and education for all women working within the network. CEO Debbie Farah promotes the retail industry through engagements as a WeVenture Founding Board member, an Advisory Board Member of Women’s Worth, and through Rollins College Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Initiative among others. Debbie and her team are very involved in the Central Florida community, including as an Orlando Museum of Art-Council of 100 member, Dress for Success and HSN Cares. Debbie herself has been honored by the U.S. Department of State, the Business Council of Peace, the United Nations and the Red Cross for providing opportunities to global artisans.

The Retailer of the Year award, sponsored by FRF since 1999, honors Florida retailers who blend sound business practices with commitments to their communities, customers and employees. FRF issues a statewide call for nominations, with the award open to both members and non-members of the non-profit trade association. Eligible retailers are all those who work for, own, or operate a Florida retail business that has an annual sales volume of $5 million or less. Nominations were received from communities around the state. A selection panel made up of small business owners and other retail experts ranked nominees based on their scores in several categories, including community service and business acumen.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
The Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide one out of every five jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year. For more information, visit the FRF website, and follow FRF on Facebook and Twitter.

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Published in Media Relations

For Immediate Release: May 19, 2015
CONTACT: James Miller This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

Owners of the popular Orlando staple Track Shack honored with the state retail trade association’s top prize; Retailers in Indiatlantic & Naples also recognized as “Outstanding Retail Leaders”

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 75 years, today named Jon & Betsy Hughes, owners of the Track Shack in Orlando, as the 2015 Florida Retailers of the Year. They will be honored with this prestigious award during a special luncheon on June 11 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Orlando as part of FRF’s Annual Summer Meeting.

“Jon and Betsy are great representatives of what the retail industry does in our state, by not only offering high quality merchandise, but doing so with world class customer service and giving back to the community that helped them become a success,” said FRF President/CEO Rick McAllister. “The retail industry is committed to making a difference in Florida, and we’re proud to recognize the Hugheses for their commitment to their community, their dedication to their customers and their passion for their business.”

Founded in 1977, Track Shack is a specialty running/walking store whose main priority is to serve Central Florida’s community of athletes and also those individuals with special footwear needs. Their goal has always been to “Keep Central Florida Fit!” Through the years, Track Shack has promoted retailing in a variety of ways including Teach Ins at many local schools and guest speaking at UCF on how their business evolved, plus training programs from beginning walking to supporting marathoners, and hosting weekly group runs from the store allowing their retail vendors to interact directly with customers.

Jon Hughes has served on several local boards including Florida Heart Group, Running USA and was President of Florida USA Track & Field. Betsy serves on the board of SheRunsRetail and Seminole State College Board of Directors of the Nursing School. Additionally, they lend assistance to local schools and various clubs and offer discounts to all area athletes.

But their biggest impact on the community has been through their Track Shack Foundation, begun in 1994, which encourages positive life choices for children through athletics. To date, the Foundation has donated more than $2.5 million to local organizations, covering expenses for track teams’ uniforms and tumbling classes for youngsters at United Cerebral Palsy among other activity involvement.

“We are honored to be selected as the 2015 Florida Retailers of the Year and we thank the Florida Retail Federation for sponsoring this award and for their efforts in continuing to advance the retail industry,” said Jon & Betsy Hughes. “We are extremely proud of the customer service we’ve provided for more than 30 years, and are even prouder of the commitment we’ve made to supporting our community and making it a better place to live and work.”

Two other local retailers were honored as “Outstanding Retail Leaders” for their commitment to the retail industry and their community. These retailers will also be recognized at FRF’s Summer Meeting in June:

Christina Brown | Roses Are Red Florist | Indiatlantic
Roses Are Red Florist is a local full service florist providing fresh cut flowers, flower arrangements, plants, floral classes and other gifts for all types of occasions, owned by Christina Brown. They are the only retail florist in their area that advertises bulk flowers and supplies for do-it-yourself purchase. Christina’s community involvement includes flower donations and support to more than 20 different charities benefiting women and children in Brevard County, including the March of Dimes, Deveraux Girls Children’s Home, Serene Harbor and Viera Deveraux Hospital.

Deanna Renda | Naples Soap Company | Naples
Since opening its doors in 2009, people from all over the world have become loyal users of Naples Soap Company’s products for their chronic skin issues. Today, Naples Soap has seven locations in Florida and five stores in Tokyo, Japan, with wholesale operations expanding rapidly across the United States. CEO Deanna Renda’s community commitment includes working with the local Junior Achievement, donating a tree for the Goodwill Festival of Trees, and providing donations to St. Matthew’s House and the Shelter for Abused Women.

The Retailer of the Year award, sponsored by FRF since 1999, honors Florida retailers who blend sound business practices with commitments to their communities, customers and employees. FRF issues a statewide call for nominations, with the award open to both members and non-members of the non-profit trade association. Eligible retailers are all those who work for, own, or operate a Florida retail business that has an annual sales volume of $5 million or less. Nominations were received from communities around the state. A selection panel made up of small business owners and other retail experts ranked nominees based on their scores in several categories, including community service and business acumen.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
The Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide one out of every five jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year. For more information, browse the FRF website, and follow FRF on Facebook and Twitter.

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Published in Media Relations