Erin Sullivan, Times Staff Writer

Erin Sullivan

Erin Sullivan covers business in Hillsborough County. She came to the Times in 2006 and previously covered crime, courts and breaking news in Pasco County. Sullivan grew up in Alliance, Ohio, and attended the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. During college, she also studied at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, Denmark. After graduating from OU in 2000, she was a Pulliam Fellow at the Indianapolis Star and then worked for the Associated Press in London on a foreign correspondence fellowship. Upon returning to the United States in late 2001, she worked at the Birmingham Post-Herald in Birmingham, Ala., the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., and the Orlando Sentinel, before joining the Times. Sullivan was a finalist for a Livingston Award and, in 2004, was inducted into the Scripps Howard Hall of Fame for writing.

Story ideas are welcomed and sincerely appreciated. Give her a call or send an email.

Phone: (813) 226-3405


Twitter: @EASullivan

  1. A grand social experiment, the Oxford Exchange turns 1



    The crabs sold. • Allison Adams couldn't believe it. The crabs, dead for more than a century, if not quite a bit more, had been displayed in glass cases and shown in a French museum before being sold from collector to collector and ending up at a market in Paris, where Adams bought them early this year for her shop inside the Oxford Exchange. She thought the crabs were odd and beautiful and, after a lengthy holdup in Customs, where a French expert had to be hired to officially name the various crab species and declare that, yes, the crabs were definitely dead, they arrived. • Within weeks, nearly all of the 10 cases of crabs were bought. • At $1,000 a piece. • "I never thought they would sell," said Adams, 43, director of the Oxford Exchange, a grand, sweeping mixed-use business and social experiment created by Adams and her brother, Blake Casper, 40, that is celebrating its first anniversary Tuesday....

    The Shop at Oxford Exchange includes gifts, vintage finds and home decor pieces to pique your sense of discovery.
  2. Experts on homeless issues to address Hillsborough panel


    TAMPA — Two national experts focused on finding solutions for homeless issues are speaking Tuesday morning at the University Club of Tampa to local leaders who are working to fight the problem here.

    The speakers are:

    •Philip F. Mangano, president and chief executive officer of the American Round Table to Abolish Homelessness in Boston. He previously served under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama as executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness....

  3. A weight loss success story turns into a career



    After her older sister died from breast cancer in 2004, Kat Ward consoled herself with food. To honor her sister, Ward left the hotel business and got a job with the American Cancer Society, intense and meaningful work she enjoyed. But she lived on drive-through fast food. Her weight ballooned from 160 pounds to 235. She tried diets, but nothing seemed to work.

    Then on Sept. 7, 2008, at age 24, Ward woke with this strange feeling. She doesn't know why. There was no trigger; no photo she saw of herself, no cruel remark about her weight. ...

    Kathleen Ward, 30, lost more than 100 pounds after deciding to get fit. Last November she participated in the Ironman Florida in Panama City — a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a full marathon of 26.2 miles. Today she helps others reach their fitness dreams. 
  4. Plant City's Red Rose Inn sold at auction — or was it?


    LAKELAND — Sean Strano hovered outside a conference room at the Lakeland Center, his business cards in hand. Like everyone else packed in the hallway, he wanted to know who bought the Red Rose Inn, the beloved hotel in Plant City known for its kitschy commercials, doo wop dances and Gone With the Wind-themed decor.

    It hit the auction block Friday, the second day of a bankruptcy liquidation sale of the assets of the Madonia family, who spent more than a half-century building a fortune in the tomato farming business, only to see it all slip away. ...

    The Plant City hotel among assets of the Madonia family being auctioned to pay creditors. Its fate remained uncertain Friday.
  5. Red Rose Inn a symbol of an empire's collapse



    How did it come to this?

    Evelyn and Batista Madonia worked for more than a half-century building their fortune. They are known for the Red Rose Inn, a Plant City landmark, but the real money, millions upon millions, was made in tomato farming.

    They had 10,000 acres in Florida and Virginia and employed 1,000 workers. Their assets are vast: housing camps and luxury homes here and up north for the workers and executives, packing and storage facilities, millions of tomato stakes. And the equipment, anything imaginable to run a huge operation: $200,000 tractors, sprayers, forklifts, pickups, semis, golf carts....

  6. UT entrepreneurship director helps students capitalize on dreams

    Human Interest

    Rebecca White was an early champion of entrepreneurship studies, which is now one of the fastest-growing majors on college campuses. White, 56, helped create the entrepreneurship center at Northern Kentucky University before coming to the University of Tampa in 2009. Since she became director of UT's Entrepreneurship Center, the number of students majoring in entrepreneurship has doubled. "We are building an entrepreneurial community," White said. ...

    Rebecca White helps UT students capitalize on their dreams as director of the Entrepreneurship Center. Her passionately creative mother inspired her, and she in turn wanted to be a role model to her children as she pursued a Ph.D while juggling family life.
  7. Front lines of the future? Business owners age 30 and younger


    BY ERIN SULLIVAN | Times Staff Writer

    Welcome to the entrepreneurial generation.

    They are young, creative and adaptable. Experts say they grew up with parents telling them they could do anything only to experience the depth of economic lows with the recession. They have mountains of student loan debt and scarce job prospects. They've learned loyalty is overrated, witnessing hardworking people laid off after 25 years, feeling lost, betrayed, forced to start over....

    Guido Maniscalco grew up around his grandfather’s Tampa jewelry store, where he now has a showroom and repair shop to complement his online vintage watch business.
  8. Don't feel guilty about lavishing your dog — it's evolution


    We are playing right into their paws, their cute, strangely irresistible paws.

    As a society, we are spending more on pets than ever, an estimated $55.5 billion in America this year, with dogs getting the largest share. More than 78 million dogs live in 46.3 million households in America and that number is rising. Floridians are particularly crazy about dogs, with ownership in the Sunshine State increasing 42 percent from 2006 to 2013, jumping from 1.9 million dog-owning households to 2.7 million. ...

    Dogs are welcome inside Downtown Dogs in Hyde Park Village in South Tampa. The store sells toys, dog car seats, organic dog food, decorated leashes and more.
  9. Coconut oil is a successful business for this entrepreneur



    Erin Meagher, a willowy blond with a beachy tomboy vibe, rarely stops to reflect on all she has done.

    In merely four years, the 30-year-old former high school teacher's organic, fair-trade coconut oil company, Kelapo, has gone from an idea to a powerhouse.

    Her products are in 6,000 stores in the United States and Canada. She has gone from knocking on doors of local independent grocers, with homemade coconut oil brownies and a case of Kelapo, sweetly pleading with them to buy some products, to a presence in the aisles of major retailers: Whole Foods, the Fresh Market, Meijer in the Midwest, H-E-B in Texas, King Soopers out of Colorado. ...

    The Kelapo product line has grown along with the coconut oil business owned by Erin Meagher, 30, of Tampa. Her products, which will be in some Publix stores in the fall, can also be found at Fresh Market, Whole Foods, and Rollin’ Oats. Her next target is Target.
  10. Possible arrival of Trader Joe's vexes South Tampa neighborhood


    TAMPA — The grocery store that is not just a grocery store is causing angst in a small corner of South Tampa, and its birth hasn't even been confirmed.

    "The ladies were crying this morning," said Yve Cocho, a manager at Einstein Bros Bagels, of the women who have worked out together for years at the neighboring Shapes gym, a possible location for Trader Joe's — the most hyped grocery store arrival in Tampa in recent memory....

  11. Boy going to see 'Man of Steel' finds gun in Ybor theater

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Zane Noland opened a bathroom stall door at an Ybor City theater and unfolded a plot line rivaling the drama of the superhero movie playing on the screen.

    "Dad," the 9-year-old said. "There's a gun."

    On Father's Day, the boy, his 15-year-old brother, Ryan, and his dad, Wesley, were at Muvico Centro Ybor 20 to see Man of Steel, the new Superman movie.

    Shortly after it started, about 3 p.m., Zane said he needed to go to the bathroom. ...

  12. Man shot, wounded in argument near Brandon


    BRANDON — A gunfight broke out in an apartment complex parking lot Monday, leaving at least one man wounded.

    Jonathan Diaz, 31, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was taken to Brandon Regional Hospital by his girlfriend, authorities said. Diaz was then flown to Tampa General Hospital, where he was stabilized.

    Debbie Carter, a spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, said investigators had not been able to question Diaz because of his medical condition and information on the shooter was scant. ...

  13. Odessa father of 12 driven by faith, helped by good fortune

    Human Interest


    Brian Harre never thought he would have 12 children. And as stressful as it can be sometimes, it's also wonderful. Raising children, trying to teach them to be responsible, hard-working citizens and kind, loving Christians, is the best thing he's done. He believes the American family is in crisis. Brian feels like what he is doing makes a small part of the world better.

    "Dads need to have a presence," said Brian, 43....

    Brian Harre feeds his adopted daughter Mary, 4, a bite of her salad at Sweet Tomatoes after church on June 9.
  14. Young Tampa monk seeks to build a monastery here



    A Buddhist monk and a mystery novelist live in a suburban rental home with a 10-foot-tall Buddha in their living room. The golden statue was a gift from two monasteries up North. It came from Sri Lanka in April, wrapped in monks' robes, tucked into a box, shipped on a boat and then transported by pickup truck. It took four men to carry it, the French doors removed to get it inside this place, which is called a monastery, but barely scrapes by, strictly speaking. • Even the two men who live here agree the title of Mahamevnawa Meditation Monastery Florida is a dream. Their reality is a place of little beauty, a corner house on Doerun Court, just north of Northdale and a mile east of N Dale Mabry Highway. It has a broken, bleached basketball backboard in front. Their meditative walking path of sand is cut into brittle grass in the back yard. There is little shade. ...

    Bhante Saddhasara Thero and Walter Satterthwait await visitors last week to join them in meditation.
  15. Hyde Park music series is no more


    TAMPA — A once-beloved summertime tradition at Hyde Park Village is gone.

    The up-for-sale outdoor shopping plaza will no longer host its Live Music Series, a monthly staple for more than 25 years. Funds raised from the music event went to a different charity each month. Susan Martin, general manager of the village, said in a statement Friday that "a multitude of factors contributed to the decision" to retire the music series, including "weather, vehicular traffic patterns and dwindling attendance." ...