Hopefully you are having a nice, albeit hot and humid summer. It’s rather nice to have less traffic and easily get into the stores and parking spots, but I notice more and more people are staying most of the summer. That certainly helps the restaurants and retail stores. It used to be in the 70’s and 80’s that stores closed down altogether in the summer. Fifth Avenue merchants would cover their windows with white paper and notations saying “Have a nice summer. See you October 15th.” That’s truly what was happening at that time. Company and restaurant employees went on vacation. It was just the way things were. You’ve read suggestions that the county commission shouldn’t take summer vacations, but I don’t believe anyone has told you why we do it, so this is a great time to tell you the background. It all started in the 1990s when development had really started heating up, and people began to complain there was too much development. The developers found the easiest way to get their developments and projects passed by the commission was to schedule them in the summer when people were gone. Finally, around the middle of the 90’s the people complained so loudly that the County Commissioners themselves declared that they would take vacation during the 6 weeks between the middle of July till the end of August, in response to the complaints of the residents/voters. It goes on till this day. As it is, many developments still plan to be heard as close to the summer as possible so that many voters are already on vacation or up north. It is also the time when many government employees are on vacation, which assures they are here during the busiest time of the year. So there you have it. Some businesses still close for one month while most of the people are up north, but not very many because there seems to be more business and more people here than before.
- It’s been tough to try to encourage restaurants and businesses to come to East Naples, even though our numbers are climbing higher all the time and the businesses that have opened are doing extraordinarily well, yet it’s still like pulling teeth. Most people would prefer to stay closer to home, especially during season, than to drive all the way to the other end of the county to go to dinner. Yes, we’ll easily drive to Marco Island or Capri, or even Goodland, but that’s about as far as we want to travel.
- We do have a fast food restaurant that will start to build shortly: It’s a Wendy’s in front of the Steinmart, and that’s great and people love a Wendy’s, though people don’t drive from Marco or Goodland to go to a Wendy’s.. but you WILL drive from the City of Marco and/or the City of Naples to dine at a Fleming’s! I’ve written Fleming’s and encouraged them with letters to their headquarters, but I’ve never received a reply. We’d also love a P.F.Changs, but they seem to avoid us as well, and yet we’d draw from both of the cities and from Golden Gate Estates, and of course, all of the astounding developments in East Naples. That’s thousands of roof tops, plus all the condos and apartments springing up everywhere! They say you have to count the roof tops, yet look at 360 Market! We knock their socks off because they have a great little place with exceptional food and people will travel to be there! And what about the Naples Botanical Garden! No rooftops? Yet they had 250,000 visitors last year! And what about the Pickleball Capital of the World! They have 10,000 visitors attend the U.S. Open, plus year ‘round activities! Is anyone taking notice? One of these days someone will actually contact a commercial realtor who knows East Naples and will sit up and take notice. Right now we are the fastest growing community in Collier County, but not many people realize it because we are broken up into so many “Planning Communities” by different names that the out of state commercial realtors have no idea what that means.
- Marco Island is another case altogether! They are renowned for their tourism and friendliness and beaches and hotels. But how many roof tops do they have? And how many great restaurants reside there? Nothing is missing on Marco, and they do a great job and they have far less roof tops than we have in East Naples! As many know, I’m there constantly and lovin’ every minute of it. Some things just don’t add up.
- On a sad note: My dearest friend Shirlee Barcic has lost her beloved husband Brian. He will be buried in Pennsylvania, but late in the fall she will have a memorial service here on Marco for all of his Island friends. Brian was a lovely man! He was fun, bright, happy, successful, and he loved all of his friends so much. And he made a mean tenderloin! Brian and Shirlee were a great team! Thankfully we enjoyed many years of his friendship before he left to be with God.