Tuesday, 25 January 2022 16:35

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 25, 2022
CONTACT:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (202) 680-9262

The Florida Retail Federation Celebrates the Unanimous Passage of SB 1534 in Criminal Justice Committee

Tallahassee, FL – The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice unanimously passed  Senate Bill 1534, Retail Theft, by Senator Jim Boyd in a 9-0 vote during its first stop. 

SB 1534 is a priority of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Florida’s retail industry. The legislation will define and add penalties for organized retail theft in Florida.

Presented by Senator Ed Hooper on behalf of Senator Boyd, the legislation will implement additional tools to prosecute the growing crime of retail theft. The bill focuses on the activity of "boosters."

"Boosters" are criminals who steal multiple items from multiple retail locations in a short period of time. As a result, it is difficult to quantify how much in value was stolen from the premises. 

During Tuesday's meeting, Grace Lovett, Vice President of Government Affairs of the Florida Retail Federation, testified in support of this legislation. 

"Organized retail crime (ORC) is a multi-billion dollar problem for retailers that turns into a cost for consumers," explained Lovett. "It's getting worse. It's getting more frequent, and it's getting more dangerous. We are grateful to have an Attorney General that has made combatting ORC a priority. FRF and its members fully support this bill."

The National Retail Federation released a recent survey revealing that 69% of retailers saw an increase in organized retail crime over the past year. Sixty-five percent of retailers reported an increase in aggressive and violent gang activity than in years past. 

SB 944 and its companion, HB 1511 by Representative Chuck Clemons, will work to enable Florida's judicial system holds criminals accountable for their actions.

"Organized retail crime has grown significantly over the past two years," said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. "This is not petty theft from a convenience store. Organized retail crime refers to criminal gangs that routinely steal hundreds, thousands and sometimes millions of dollars of merchandise from retailers. Thanks to General Moody, Senator Boyd and Representative Clemons, we’re standing up to the gangs."

Just last month, Florida made national news when more than $1 million in goods were stolen from a small business retail storefront in Palm Beach.

The proposed legislation from General Moody will help stop organized retail theft rings attempting to evade capture and prosecution.

SB 1534 is scheduled to be heard next in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice. 

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.

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Tuesday, 18 January 2022 11:42

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 18, 2022
CONTACT: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (202) 680-9262

SB 944 Passed Its First Committee, Senate Commerce & Tourism, 9-0

Tallahassee, FL – The Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism unanimously passed Senate Bill 944, Online Marketplace Transparency, by Senator Dennis Baxley today during its first committee hearing. 

SB 944 is a priority of Florida’s retail industry. The legislation will inform and protect consumers from the sale of fraudulent goods in Florida while cracking down on organized retail crime. 

Currently, most online platforms do not require identification and are not monitored for criminal activity. As a result, these platforms have been misused by criminals to anonymously sell stolen merchandise and illicit goods to unsuspecting consumers in Florida. 

“Criminals are using the anonymity of online platforms to create fake accounts and sell counterfeit merchandise to take advantage of unsuspecting customers,” explained Senator Baxley.  “Florida can’t wait. We can be the trendsetter that is going to close the door on this type of encouragement of retail theft. We need to attack it at the systemic level which is the marketplace listings. People will behave differently if they know they are at high risk of being discovered. It’s time to close the door.”

The legislation would provide electronic and telephonic reporting and also require messaging to encourage individuals to report suspicious activity to online marketplaces.

During Tuesday's meeting, Grace Lovett, Vice President of Government Affairs of the Florida Retail Federation, testified in support of this legislation to promote safe online marketplaces for consumers and businesses. 

SB 944 and its companion, HB 1227 by Representative Jackie Toledo, is similar to the federal legislation known as the Integrity Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) for Consumers Act. 

"Online marketplace transparency will not only inform and protect Florida consumers it will also support Florida businesses," said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. "Local retailers who have suffered at the hands of organized retail crime rings will be protected through this good legislation. We are grateful to Senator Baxley for spearheading this bill."

Both bills will ensure the safe purchase of quality goods online and aid consumers to identify and verify the third-party seller on online marketplaces. 

SB 944 is scheduled to be heard next in the Senate Committee on Community Affairs. 

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.

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Thursday, 06 January 2022 11:38

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 6, 2022
CONTACT: Amanda Bevis (202) 680-9262

Tallahassee, FL – Senator Dennis Baxley and Representative Jackie Toledo this session filed SB 944 and HB 1227 to prevent organized retail crime and inform and protect consumers from the sale of fraudulent goods in Florida. 

“The purchase of stolen goods poses significant safety threats and quality concerns for consumers,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “We are thankful for the leadership of Senator Baxley and Representative Toledo and their efforts to hinder illegal activity across online marketplaces. This legislation not only protects consumers but also inhibits organized retail crime.”

Online marketplace platforms have been misused by criminals to anonymously sell stolen merchandise and illicit goods to unsuspecting consumers in Florida. Currently, most online platforms do not require identification and are not monitored for criminal activity. As a result, the online marketplace has attracted organized criminal networks to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. 

“Unregulated online marketplaces have fueled the growth of organized retail crime rings,” stated Senator Dennis Baxley. “This legislation will punish those that seek to take advantage of consumers online. We must hold these criminals accountable.”

“Organized retail crime is a growing threat to communities around our country and we will not tolerate it here in Florida,” shared Representative Toledo. “This legislation cracks down on crime and provides consumer protections to Floridians when shopping online. With HB 1227, we will fight to terminate the online black market of criminals profiting off Floridians and Florida businesses. These criminals are often linked to other unregulated crimes including the illegal drug trade and human trafficking. With greater online marketplace protections, we can help to shut down criminal gang activity in Florida.”

The National Retail Federation released a 2021 survey stating that 69% of retailers saw an increase in organized retail crime over the past year. Sixty-five percent of retailers reported an increase in aggressive and violent gang activity than in years past. 

Florida businesses suffer thousands of dollars in losses and damage at the hands of growing criminal rings. Thieves utilize “smash and grab” and other violent tactics on retail storefronts. Local retailers are left with physical damage to storefronts and grave concern for the safety of employees and customers. 

Florida consumers who purchase stolen goods through online marketplaces find themselves victims of fraud. The products available through third-party sellers can come without a guarantee, may be expired, damaged, tampered or even counterfeit. 

SB 944 and HB 1227 will help ensure the safe purchase of quality goods online and aid consumers to identify and verify the third-party seller on online marketplaces.

SB 944 and HB 1227 will strengthen consumer protections similar to the federal legislation known as the Integrity Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) for Consumers Act.

The legislation will require online marketplace sellers to provide basic contact information including: 

  • A valid email and phone number; 
  • A government-issued photo ID; or
  • Tax documentation with a physical address and tax identification number; and
  • Bank account information.

In 2021, Arkansas enacted similar consumer protections into law. More than a dozen other states are considering similar policies.

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.

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Monday, 29 November 2021 08:27

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 23, 2021
CONTACT: Amanda Bevis (202) 680-9262

Tallahassee, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) announced today the top toys for this winter holiday season. A recent survey revealed that LEGOs and Barbie are the top two toys among boys and girls, this year according to the National Retail Federation. 

"For hot-ticket toys and anything else you need this season, 'Find It In Florida," said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “This is expected to be a record-breaking year.  Florida retailers are already stocked up and staffed up to help you check all the items off your list."

Many shoppers are already in the full swing of holiday shopping this year. Sixty-one percent of holiday shoppers have already started browsing and buying holiday gifts for their loved ones. That represents a 10% increase since 2011.

There's also been a significant increase in the amount of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers looking to take advantage of Black Friday savings and other holiday deals. Around 64% of shoppers plan to take advantage of in-store Black Friday deals, a 13% increase from only 51% in 2020.

In addition to shopping early, Florida shoppers are looking for key items to gift their friends and families this year. The top five items that consumers plan to purchase this holiday includes: 

  • Clothing - 53%
  • Gift cards - 46% 
  • Toys - 39%
  • Books, music, movies & video games - 35%
  • Food & candy - 31%

As the third most popular purchase, toys for the little ones are a top priority this holiday season. The hottest toys for girls and boys remain the same as in 2020, with Barbie and LEGOs as the most loved items for each category. 

The most popular toys for girls and boys of 2021, ranked, include: 

Girls

  1. Barbie
  2. Doll
  3. LOL Dolls
  4. LEGO
  5. Apple Products / Smartphone
  6. American Girl / Baby Dolls
  7. Apparel & Accessories / Frozen-related
  8. Disney / Disney Princess
  9. Beauty Products
  10. Nintendo Switch

Boys

  1. LEGO
  2. Cars and Trucks
  3. Hot Wheels
  4. PlayStation
  5. Video Games
  6. Nerf
  7. Paw Patrol
  8. Remote Control Car
  9. Xbox
  10. Pokémon

Florida's retailers began holiday preparations early this year by increasing their inventory and hiring seasonal workers early. 

"Florida’s retail industry has taken a proactive approach this holiday season to make sure Florida families have a peaceful and joyful holiday season," explained Shalley. "While you prepare for Thanksgiving sales, we ask that you remember to 'Find it in Florida' first. By shopping at businesses that have a presence here in the Sunshine State, you help support the Florida retailers that help create Florida jobs, and support Florida families and Florida's economy."

This holiday season, when shoppers "Find It In Florida" and shop local retailers, they help boost the local economy and support community businesses. Learn more about the "Find It In Florida" program at the website

For more information on the predictions of the National Retail Federation, visit: https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/thanksgiving-weekend-see-more-holiday-shoppers-last-year-and-consumers

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.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION
The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, passionately advocates for the people, brands, policies and ideas that help retail thrive. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., NRF empowers the industry that powers the economy. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, contributing $3.9 trillion to annual GDP and supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 52 million working Americans. For over a century, NRF has been a voice for every retailer and every retail job, educating, inspiring and communicating the powerful impact retail has on local communities and global economies.

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Monday, 15 November 2021 14:10

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 15, 2021
CONTACT: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (202) 680-9262

Tallahassee, FL – This season of yuletide greetings is poised to break holiday retail records as 2021 sales are estimated between $843.3 billion and $859 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. A recent survey forecasts that sales from November to December will grow between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent compared to 2020 sales.

This boost in sales could be attributed to the 90 percent of shoppers that enthusiastically plan to participate in winter holiday celebrations this year. 

"Florida shoppers are delighted to spend time with family and friends this holiday season," shares Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. "Our retailers are ready and here to help you have the best shopping experience as you browse for gifts, decorations and everything you need for your holiday celebrations. We encourage shoppers to Find it in Florida when gearing up for the holidays."

More than ever shoppers are excited about this holiday season. Nearly 50% of consumers have already started their holiday shopping.

Consumers will spend on average $998 for this year's winter holiday season. Of that total, shoppers will spend on average $648 for gifts and $231 on non-gift items related to the holiday festivities, including food, candy, decorations and Christmas cards. About $118 will be spent on other non-gift purchases.

When asked about the ideal gift of 2021, 56% of shoppers responded that gift cards are highest on their wish list. Other top gifts include:

  • Clothing and accessories - 47%
  • Books and other media - 32%
  • Electronics - 26%
  • Home decor - 23%
  • Personal care - 20%
  • Jewelry - 20%
  • Home improvement - 16%
  • Sporting goods - 16%
  • Other - 7%

While 57% of shoppers plan to purchase items online, the shift to in-store shopping is expected as many Floridians are excited to participate in the traditional holiday shopping experience. This year’s top holiday shopping destinations include: 

  • Department stores - 47%
  • Discount stores - 44%
  • Grocery stores - 43%
  • Clothing & accessories stores - 30%
  • Local retail stores or small businesses - 24%

"Florida retailers are ready to help families have a stress-free holiday season," says Shalley. "Whether you are hunting down the perfect 'Secret Santa' gift, browsing unique ornaments, hosting a traditional family holiday dinner or planning other festivities, Florida retailers are working hard to ensure this holiday season is merry and bright."

This holiday season, when shoppers "Find It In Florida" and shop local retailers, they help boost the local economy and support community businesses. Learn more about the "Find It In Florida" program at the website

For more information on the predictions of the National Retail Federation, visit: https://nrf.com/topics/holiday-and-seasonal-trends/winter-holidays

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.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION
The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, passionately advocates for the people, brands, policies and ideas that help retail thrive. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., NRF empowers the industry that powers the economy. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, contributing $3.9 trillion to annual GDP and supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 52 million working Americans. For over a century, NRF has been a voice for every retailer and every retail job, educating, inspiring and communicating the powerful impact retail has on local communities and global economies.

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Thursday, 11 November 2021 16:19

Tallahassee, FL – In honor of Veterans Day and the many active-duty and veteran U.S. servicemembers, the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) sheds a spotlight on retail store owner and Army veteran Mike Scobee. 

For Mike Scobee, family means everything to him. He credits his parents for raising him in a traditional American military family and the values they instilled in him. Scobee most admires his father, Sgt. Major Lloyd Scobee, who served 34 years in the Army and saw combat in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. 

"Without a doubt, I wanted to follow in my father's footsteps," shared Scobee.

After graduating high school, Scobee joined the Army and for 20 years, he served as a member of the infantry living in many parts of the world.

During his second year in the Army, Scobee knew he had to marry his high school sweetheart, Peggy. 

"My wife, she is my backbone," said Scobee.

While on leave from military duties, Scobee helped his brother out on construction of a new store. That store was Fisher Buggies, and Scobee soon found himself on a path to becoming a niche market retailer. 

Fisher Buggies is a specialized auto parts store that was opened in 1981 by Ken and Hilma Fisher. Their passion for restoring Volkswagens was a garage hobby that transformed into a successful business.

"Our service area of expertise is on vehicles from the 1950s through 1979," explained Scobee. "We don't work on anything past 1979."

Fisher Buggies helps area residents find parts on original bugs and buses. They also specialize in dune buggies.

When Scobee retired from the Army, he took a job with Fisher Buggies. He didn't look back once. 

Scobee worked his way up for Mr. Fisher for 22 years. When Mr. Fisher was ready to retire, he couldn't bear to sell his business to just anyone. He knew it had to go to someone with the same passion and work ethic, and that was Mike Scobee. 

So in 2016, Scobee and his son-in-law, Tony Eannottie, joined together as business partners and became the new owners of Fisher Buggies.

The seven-member team of Fisher Buggies is a close-knit one, comprised of family and top-notch mechanics. They focus on customer service and quality workmanship.

Scobee also focuses on supporting his fellow veterans and those who may not have found the same success. 

"As a veteran and small business owner, I feel blessed," shared Scobee. "I am one of the lucky ones. But we need to go and try and help the ones that haven't found that."

Scobee is a member of the VFW and the American Legion and participates where he can in special fundraising events. Fisher Buggies also offers all veterans and first responders a 10 percent discount on all auto parts. 

Scobee knows there is more to be done to help those struggling veterans who have served our great nation. 

The meritorious quality of Scobee is evident in his words and in the recognition he received during his own active-duty service. A recipient of the Bronze Star award and four Army Commendation medals, Scobee is a quiet leader with great compassion for others.

When asked about his retail philosophy, Scobee shared, "At the end of the day, if we do what we thought was right in order to take care of our customers and our team, we feel good about what we do." 

Fisher Buggies is one of many veteran-owned retail businesses in Florida that you can support while you shop local and "Find It In Florida." Visit their website or follow them on Facebook or Instagram for more information. 

Last year, the Florida Retail Federation launched the "Find It In Florida" campaign to spread public awareness on the importance of shopping locally. When Floridian shoppers "Find It In Florida", they are helping to keep doors open, boost the local economy and support their communities. 

Florida's retailers have continued to take proactive measures during the pandemic to provide consumers with safe access to meet their shopping needs, including safely shopping in stores, curbside pickup and online ordering options.  

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.

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Friday, 24 September 2021 10:57

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEPTEMBER 24, 2021
CONTACT: Amanda Bevis (202) 680-9262

Tallahassee, FL – Halloween this year is expected to be a delightfully frightful success, according to the 2021 retail sales forecast data issued this week by the National Retail Federation. Halloween is the second biggest retail event of the year, and data reveals this year will be a comeback from the moderated activities during the pandemic. 

"You can already feel the energy and excitement among Florida retailers, with consumers in-store and online searching for items to make this Halloween one for the books," says Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. "When you're selecting your costume, stocking up on candy or loading up pumpkins, be sure to Find It In Florida! Support our local businesses and local jobs this scary season." 

Sixty-five percent of Americans intend to celebrate Halloween or participate in festivities, which is close to pre-pandemic levels. Some of the top ghoulish festivities for 2021 include handing out candy (66%), decorating the home or yard (52%), dressing up in costumes (46%), carving pumpkins (44%) and hosting or attending a Halloween party (25%).

Nationally, consumers plan to spend an all-time high of $10.14 billion to celebrate Halloween compared to $8.05 billion in 2020. Shoppers plan to spend $102.74 on average this Halloween compared to $92.74 in 2020.

One-third of total Halloween expenditures, or $3.32 billion will be on costumes, representing the highest forecast since 2017.

The surprise upset in this year's forecast is in the popular children's costume category. Spiderman has dethroned the princess for top costume this year, pushing long-time favorite princess to the #2 spot.

  • Spiderman - 1.8 million
  • Princess - 1.6 million
  • Batman - 1.2 million
  • Superhero - 1.2 million

Individuals planning to include their pets in the Hallow's Eve festivities will find pumpkin continues to reign as the hottest costume for the sixth consecutive year in a row. Superhero and cat costumes are tied as a top favorite for furry friends. The top five pet costumes are: 

  • Pumpkin - 10 percent
  • Hot Dog - 5 percent
  • Superhero - 4 percent
  • Cat - 4 percent
  • Bumblebee - 3 percent


Florida shoppers are getting an early start on their shopping for ghoulish delights at retail stores. This year, 45% of consumers started shopping in September, and 39% plan to purchase their spooky supplies during the first two weeks of October.

This Halloween, when shoppers "Find It In Florida" and shop local retailers, they help boost the local economy and support community businesses. Learn more about the "Find It In Florida" program at the website

For more information on the predictions of the National Retail Federation, visit: https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/halloween-spending-soars-celebrations-near-pre-pandemic-levels

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.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.  

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Tuesday, 14 September 2021 13:29

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEPTEMBER 14, 2021
CONTACT: Amanda Bevis (202) 680-9262

Tallahassee, FL – During National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) is putting the spotlight on a family-owned retailer. In downtown Miami, Animal Crackers is not only taming the manes of dogs across all of South Florida, but making sure man's best friend is well-fed for a lifetime of belly rubs.

Meet Florida native, JJ Diaz. Diaz is the passionate owner and founder of Animal Crackers, a retail store offering healthy pet food and grooming services.  

Born and raised in Miami, Diaz spent most of his days outside as a kid, playing in the woods and catching lizards, frogs or any animal he could get his hands on. 

Though he grew up without having his own pet, it did not stop Diaz from picking up a dog the moment he moved off to college. While in Gainesville, Diaz adopted Jake, a rottweiler that had many health problems and not very long to live. 

For Diaz, failure was not an option. He traveled and met with a veterinarian that took a holistic approach. 

"By changing his diet and lifestyle, we were able to naturally, internally heal my dog," said Diaz. "It was kind of wicked to see." 

As a result, his one year left with Jake ended up being a lifelong friendship. For Diaz, the impact of this lifestyle change on the dog's health and wellness was not lost.

After Diaz graduated from the University of Florida, he entered the corporate world of Miami. But Diaz kept drumming up new business opportunities. He even entered and won business competitions, but none really seemed to pan out.

Diaz's enthusiasm for pet health and wellness remained steadfast. One day, he found himself driving up to 50 minutes away to ensure his dog received the food the nutritional supplements he needed to remain healthy. Then, in 2009, it was like a lightbulb turned on.

"I was out walking my dog, just thinking about life and all I had to do," recalled Diaz. 

That's when it hit him. Diaz could fulfill this need in his own community by offering a delivery service of these products. 

Within three months, Diaz had a website up and was delivering high-quality nutritious dog food to his neighbors. He immediately gained a supportive list of clientele and created an efficient distribution chain.

By 2011, Animals Crackers was a full-fledged retail storefront selling and delivering dog food and health supplements. Today, the retail shop offers a variety of grooming services and has an established and loyal customer base. 

The energetic and no-nonsense approach Diaz embodies, both personally and professionally, is due in part to his parents. 

"They are as Cuban as they come," Diaz said laughing. "My parents, they are polar opposites. My mother taught me how to hustle, and my father taught me to make sure I do things properly the first time." 

Diaz's mother was born in New York and raised in Cuba. In the 1960s, her family home in Cuba was taken away from them. They lost everything.

"She understood that at any point, no matter what you do, it could all end," explained Diaz. 

The experience she shared with him taught him to never take anything for granted and always share gratitude. 

"My parents instilled a drive within me to get things done and to work hard. But most importantly to remember that families come first. It is all about family."

For Diaz, his retail store is his tool to share his passion, to help educate and spread awareness on how to best treat and feed your furry friends. 

"A healthy lifestyle for your pet is the simplest form of love and care," he shared. 

And for many, pets are another member of the family. When COVID-19 hit, Diaz focused on how to care for pets that are family while keeping the store family together. 

He explained, "When COVID-19 hit, it destroyed us. But my first focus was how I am going to keep my crew together and keep everyone on board." 

Despite the uncertainty, the Animal Crackers retail team immediately sprung into action, offering curbside pick-up and capitalizing on their existing delivery service option. 

"Thankfully, we've been able to stay open and now are back to grooming up to 60 dogs a day," shared Diaz. "But that was not without growing together from the last year as a collective group. Through all our mistakes and successes, we still continue to come up with ways to better ourselves. We don't take anything for granted."

Diaz's passion to continually improve has played into his focus to help revitalize and encourage growth in the downtown Miami retail community. Through Diaz's grit and the hard work he and his partner continue to pour into Animal Crackers, growth has begun to occur. 

"I feel so blessed because I see people coming out and starting to really support the neighborhood community," he shared. "Our street is starting to look really good."

For JJ Diaz, at the end of the day, it is his wife, two children and the pet community he has built that makes him feel most proud. 

"For me, it has always been that level of bond with a dog," he explained. "When I come home from work and to my family, no matter how bad of a day, I know my pet is going to be stoked to hang with me."

Diaz is proud of his Hispanic roots, but he's also incredibly proud to be a part of the growth of Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States and their contributions to the American economy.

"The way I see it, Henry Flagler made Miami a resort town, but Hispanics made Miami a regional center of the American economy, as well as a financial center for the Caribbean," said Diaz. "Hispanic business owners’ contributions to local, national and the global economy are only gaining momentum, and all while facing additional barriers, whether be it from cultural and language differences or bias."

In fact, over the past decade, Hispanic Americans are starting businesses faster than the rest of the startup population. According to JP Morgan Chase, Hispanic-owned businesses will make up nearly one-third of American businesses, a significant jump from 17% today. 

Animal Crackers is one of many retail businesses in Florida that you can support while you shop local and "Find It In Florida." Visit their website or follow them on Facebook or Instagram for more information. 

Last year, the Florida Retail Federation launched the "Find It In Florida" campaign to spread public awareness on the importance of shopping locally. When Floridian shoppers "Find It In Florida", they are helping to keep doors open, boost the local economy and support their communities. 

Florida's retailers have continued to take proactive measures during the pandemic to provide consumers with safe access to meet their shopping needs, including safely shopping in stores, curbside pickup and online ordering options.  

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.

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Wednesday, 28 July 2021 09:20

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 27, 2021
CONTACT: Amanda Bevis (202) 680-9262

Tallahassee, FL – Florida retail stores are ready to help families get a jump start on back-to-school shopping. Floridians can save money when shopping for school supplies during Florida’s Back to School Sales Tax holiday that begins Saturday, July 31, and runs through Monday, August 9.

“School supplies are essential to learning and now you can save when you stock up for a new school year,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “Remember to ‘Find It In Florida’ and support your local retailers when checking off the items on your back-to-school lists. Many retail stores are offering additional savings to help you cut costs this year.”

The following items are available for purchase tax-free July 31 – August 9:

  • Clothing, footwear and backpacks costing $60 or less;
  • School supplies costing $15 or less; and
  • First $1,000 of the sales tax price of personal computers or personal computer-related accessories.

According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, Florida consumers are already planning ahead for the new school year and will spend record amounts for school and college supplies. About 70% of families plan to start shopping at least three weeks before school begins with average spending of $848.90 per household.

Total back-to-school spending is forecasted to reach $37.1 billion this fall. This can be partially attributed to shoppers expecting to spend more as more students will return to their in-person groups and clubs including sports teams and other extracurricular activities. The top categories for back-to-school and college shopping are electronics with back-to-school sales expected to reach $12.9 billion while college sales will make up $18.1 billion this fall.

There are more than 270,000 retail stores in Florida, and one in five jobs is tied to Florida retail. When shoppers “Find It In Florida" and shop local retailers, they help boost the local economy and support community businesses. Learn more about the "Find It In Florida" program at the website.

“Now is the time to save money when shopping for school supplies,” said Shalley. “We encourage all Floridians to “Find It In Florida” and shop with retailers that employ your neighbors and support your community.”

Visit www.fldoe.org to learn more about what you need to prepare and help your children return to school safely. For a full list of eligible tax-free supplies, please visit FloridaRevenue.com/BacktoSchool.

This year’s Back to School Sales Tax Holiday was established when Governor DeSantis signed HB 7061 into law on May 21. The legislation was championed by Rep. Bobby Payne and Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, and the tax-free holiday was a priority of Sen. Keith Perry.

The data shared by the Florida Retail Federation is informed by a survey conducted and released by the National Retail Federation. For more information on the predictions of the National Retail Federation, visit: https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/2021-brings-back-class-shopping-record-levels.

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.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. 

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Monday, 28 June 2021 14:31

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 28, 2021

CONTACT: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (202) 680-9262

Tallahassee, FL – Ahead of Florida’s first-ever Freedom Week, the Florida Retail Federation urges families to shop local. Beginning on July 1, Floridians can find cost savings at Florida retailers on a large variety of outdoor and recreational supplies. The tax-free savings of the 2021 Freedom Week Sales Tax Holiday includes boating and activity supplies, camping and fishing gear, sporting equipment and entertainment, and more. 

The tax holiday begins this Thursday, July 1, and runs seven days through Wednesday, July 7. 

“The Sunshine State has so much to offer. Now is the time for Floridians to stock up on all the gear they need to enjoy our great outdoors. Florida retailers are ready to assist shoppers and help them save this Freedom Week,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “As Floridians shop for summer, remember to 'Find It In Florida.' When you support Florida retail stores, you’re supporting Florida jobs and Florida families.” 

Beginning Thursday, July 1, Floridians can save on eligible Freedom Week purchases including Florida-related recreational supplies including boating and water activity, camping, fishing, general outdoor supplies and sports equipment. 

The criteria for tax-free savings on boating and water activities include:

  • The first $75 on the price of life jackets and coolers;
  • The first $50 on the price of safety flares;
  • The first $150 on the price of water skis, wakeboards, kneeboards, and recreational inflatable water tubes;
  • The first $300 on the price of paddleboards and surfboards;
  • The first $500 on the price of canoes and kayaks;
  • The first $75 on the price of paddles and oars; and
  • The first $25 on the price of snorkels, goggles, and swimming masks.

Floridians may also enjoy tax-free purchases on the following camping supplies:

  • The first $200 on the price of purchase of tents;
  • The first $50 on the price of sleeping bags, portable hammocks, camping stoves, and collapsible camping chairs; and
  • The first $30 on the price of camping lanterns and flashlights.

Florida shoppers more interested in fishing can find savings on:

  • The first $75 on the price of individual rods and reels; or
  • The first $150 on the price of a set of rods and reels;
  • The first $30 on the price of tackle boxes or bags; and
  • The first $5 on the price of individual bait or fishing tackle; or  
  • The first $10 on the price of multiple bait and tackle items sold together. 

Other recreational savings include tax-free purchases such as: 

  • Up to the first $15 on the price of sunscreen or insect repellant;
  • The first $100 on a pair of sunglasses;
  • The first $200 on a pair of binoculars;
  • The first $30 on the price of water bottles;
  • The first $50 on the price of hydration packs;
  • The first $250 of the sales price of outdoor gas or charcoal grills;
  • The first $50 of the sales price of bicycle helmets; and
  • The first $250 of the sales price of bicycles.

Floridians can also save on equipment used for individual or team sports purposes. This does not include clothing or footwear selling for $40 or less.

Eligible tax-free entertainment events and outings include: 

  • Live music events;
  • Live sporting events;
  • Movies at the movie theater;
  • Entry to a museum, including any annual passes;
  • Entry to a state park, including any annual passes;
  • Entry to a ballet, play, or musical theatre performance;
  • Season tickets for ballets, plays, music events, or musical theatre performances;
  • Entry to a fair, festival, or cultural event; or
  • Access or use of private and/or membership clubs providing physical fitness facilities.

“We are grateful to Governor Ron DeSantis, Senate President Wilton Simpson, House Speaker Chris Sprowls and the Florida Legislature for their continued support to help Florida families save money as they enjoy spending time outside of the home this summer,” said Shalley. 

This year’s Freedom Week Tax-Free Holiday was established when Governor DeSantis signed HB 7061 into law on May 21. The legislation was championed by House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Representative Bobby Payne.

Florida retailers are ready to help shoppers "Find It In Florida" while searching for supplies and products to get outside and enjoy the Sunshine State. When shoppers "Find It In Florida" and shop local retailers, they help boost the local economy and support community businesses. Learn more about the "Find It In Florida" program at the website.

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.

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