Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Business

ECHO fundraiser shows off Loft Event Lounge

BRANDON — The new store filled with shoppers who came in search of deals.

Organizers put everything on sale, slashing prices to as low as $2 for ear rings and $20 for an evening gown. Wall-to-wall racks of designer clothes, shoes, purses and jewelry dotted the room.

It was a consignment store meets yard sale atmosphere when the Emergency Care Help Organization held its Spring Trunk Sale last week. The event not only helped ECHO raise more than $5,000, but it allowed yet another crowd to grow familiar with the Loft Event Lounge at Oak Park Plaza.

Arlene Frisk said the expansion of her Loft Hair and Nail Salon into an event center developed in a roundabout way. First, she simply sought to beautify an adjacent store front, but the property manager went a step further and asked if she wanted to take over the spot.

Ben Frisk, Frisk's son and a co-owner, took one look at the 2,200 square feet and immediately thought event lounge.

"It's something I've always thought about," Arlene Frisk said. "For years, I've been putting on parties and events for friends and family for free."

Since an October opening, business has been brisk, proving an income for when the hair and nail salon is closed. Frisk says the event lounge, which can accommodate 80 people, is booked through most of the year with events ranging from baby showers to junior diva parties to Sweet 16 celebrations to business gatherings.

She points to several keys: convenient location, a space that can convert to fit any kind of theme and reasonable pricing. A spread sheet on the event lounge's website (thelofteventlounge.com) allows interested parties to price out an event on their own and avoid haggling.

As for the trunk sale, ECHO executive director Stacey Efaw said she couldn't have been more pleased.

"People love it," said Efaw, who has helped organize this event three times. "With the economy the way it is, you can get a designer dress for $10. This is the ideal fundraiser because it is getting difficult to raise money. It's easy to ask people to clean out their closets."

Efaw said it took 20 volunteers nearly six months to plan this event. One of the volunteers was Karen Burgess, who spent months sorting the donated items into 30 bins of clothing and jewelry and then three weeks pricing them. She is among the 110 day-to-day volunteers who help feed and clothe more than 11,000 people a year at ECHO.

"I know what my life is supposed to be," said Burgess, who has been volunteering for ECHO for three years and says after surviving a pair of brain aneurisms this is her calling. "I love knowing we are feeding all these people."

Visitechofl.org for more information.

Education center opens at FishHawk

The Learning Experience at FishHawk Ranch became the first Academy of Early Education of its kind in the area when it opened its doors April 15 in Lithia. The center has 10 children enrolled with room for as many as 170 more between the ages of 6 weeks and 8 years.

Founded by the Weissman family of Boca Raton, who started the Tutor Time franchise, Greg Polizzi and his wife, Shannon, own and operate the location at 16232 Bayberry Glen Drive.

As parents, Greg said the former military couple was drawn to the LEAP educational curriculum. It is a proprietary course, standing for Learning Experience Academic Program, that touts kindergarten reading readiness at a clip of more than 90 percent of children.

"Safety and well-being of the children are top priorities," Greg said. "Then, there is development and we think we do that best. What is good for one child is good for all and there are no extra charges."

Another center is coming soon in Brandon. It is slated to open at 403 E Bloomingdale Ave.

Visit fishhawk.tlechildcare.com for more information on the Learning Experience.

If you know of something that should be in Everybody's Business, email Eric Vician at [email protected]

Comments
Career Q&A: What to do when your boss is stealing

Career Q&A: What to do when your boss is stealing

Q: I strongly suspect that my boss is stealing from our employer. As the property manager for this apartment complex, she handles all payments, deposits and other financial matters.A few weeks ago, I accidentally discovered some suspicious discrepanc...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks

Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks

Feeling a little sniffly or scratchy or stuffed up? It may be the flu, and you donít want to wait around to see a doctor this year. This is not the time to write off flu-like symptoms, Tampa Bay area health officials and doctors warn. The influenza v...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Italian Butterfingers? Nestle selling candy business for $2.9B

Italian Butterfingers? Nestle selling candy business for $2.9B

Associated PressNEW YORK ó Swiss food and drink giant Nestle is selling its U.S. candy business to Italyís Ferrero for about $2.9 billion in cash. Ferrero will take over iconic chocolate brands Butterfinger and Crunch bars, as well as the sugary Nerd...
Updated: 6 hours ago
23 seek vacant PSC post

23 seek vacant PSC post

There is another Mariano seeking a job in Tallahassee.Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano, the father of state Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, is seeking an appointment to the Florida Public Service Commission, the powerful board regulating Florida ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
St. Petersburg’s apartment boom is spreading west

St. Petersburg’s apartment boom is spreading west

ST. PETERSBURG — Still more apartments are coming to St. Petersburg, this time to the Edge and Grand Central Districts just west of downtown. The new projects, all by out-of-state developers and more moderately priced than those downtown, will...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Florida raises insurance regulation grade from C to B

Florida raises insurance regulation grade from C to B

When it comes to regulating insurance, Florida is slowly improving. The Sunshine State raised its grade from a C in 2016 to a B in 2017 on the "R Street 2017 Insurance Regulation Report Card." It ranked No. 15 among all states.The annual report, writ...
Updated: 8 hours ago

US travel industry launches plan to reverse tourism decline

Associated PressNEW YORK ó Travel industry representatives sounded an alarm Tuesday over declines in international tourism to the U.S. and announced plans to reverse the trend. Organizers of the new Visit U.S. Coalition portrayed the decline as long-...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Raymond James advice for small to mid-sized companies about activist shareholders? Prepare and listen

Raymond James advice for small to mid-sized companies about activist shareholders? Prepare and listen

Shareholder fights between activist investors and publicly traded companies are getting nastier, especially in some industries, and a lot of them donít involve corporate giants like General Motors and Procter & Gamble.In 2015, according to Raymond Ja...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Dow bursts through 26,000 in record seven trading days

Dow bursts through 26,000 in record seven trading days

The Dow Jones industrial average blew past 26,000 Tuesday for the first time ever, coming only a week after hitting 25,000 and showing further evidence that the long-running bull market is alive and well."There are several reasons for markets to melt...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Arizona-based AFI Mortgage opens St. Petersburg branch

Arizona-based AFI Mortgage opens St. Petersburg branch

Times StaffAFI Mortgage, a subsidiary of an Arizona-based bank, is opening its first Florida locations in St. Petersburg and Lakeland. Its parent company, AmeriFirst Financial Inc., specializes in mortgages. "This Florida team is innovative, knowledg...
Published: 01/16/18