Holidays approaching; business increases for small gaming store

 

R.U. Game is a small business that specializes in dated video game systems and accessories. With the Christmas season beginning, dated technology is starting to increase in sales.

Store manager, Christopher Carrol, explains what separates his store from other competitive gaming stores.

“One thing is, we’re not a multi-billion dollar corporation. We’re a bunch of dudes just doing the things we love. We like to make sure we take care of our customers, too; always running specials, all that kind of stuff,” Carrol said. “We give more for trade than, let’s say, our competitor, Game Stop, does. Like we even make sure and verify beforehand that we also give more too. It’s kind of a way of showing that we will go the extra step.”

Regular R.U. Game customer, Joel Hanson, prefers R.U. Game over other gaming stores.

“I like that the guys here really know what they’re talking about, and they have a wide range of video games and systems,” Hanson said. “They’ve got retro stuff in addition to the newest consoles.”

R.U. Game has three branches located in Temple Terrace, Brandon and Gainesville. Their branches are open until 9 p.m. and they accept trade-ins on all old gaming systems and system accessories.

After a very successful Black Friday and with the holidays approaching, R.U. Game hopes to maintain an increase in business throughout the season. 

Hospital Holds Annual Veterans Day Parade

James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital honored veterans Nov. 11 in their ninth annual Veterans Day Parade. More than 1800 participants and 300 volunteers were in attendance for the momentous occasion.

Bruce Waters, U.S. Air Force veteran, learned many life lessons during his service and credits the military for helping him become the man he is today.

“Of all the things that can happen to you in the service, it makes a man out of you or a lady out of you, if you are a woman,” Waters said. “It teaches you responsibility.”

Retired veteran Connie White served in the Air Force for 20 years. She is now a member of the Military Women Across the Nation who walked the parade.

“I took that oath to protect my country, to guide my country in all enemies, foreign and domestic and that oath never ends,” White said. “It is always there.”

Rhonda Crawford grew up in a military family and says although it can be a challenging career, she encourages young women to join the service.

“Go for it—I enjoyed my experience so much,” Crawford said. “It makes you grow as a person that you would not believe possible; the people that you meet and the place you go, they last a lifetime.”

A Unique Haunted House in the Tampa Bay Area

Chamber of Terror is a haunted house located near Channelside in the port of Tampa Bay. What makes it so unique is that it’s aboard the S.S. Victory World War II Ship. The creator, Courtney McIntyre, has made a nautical haunted ship, where there are only five in the United States.

The Chamber of Terror is a walk-through, 30 minute haunted house with four levels and 50 actors, which guarantees you to get scared. Unlike the usual theme park haunted houses, Chamber of Terror is more intimate, letting in up to six people at a time.

“You’re not looking down the hallway and seeing 100 people in front of you end up getting scared and then you end up not getting scared,” McIntyre said.

McIntyre first gained attention from the ship’s director at his haunted house last year in South Tampa. The director loved what he created and asked if he would like to create a haunted attraction aboard the S.S. Victory.

“Basically since November of last year we’ve been planning on doing it here,” McIntyre said, “Everybody seems excited it’s really unique, nothing you can get like this in Florida.”

Guests lined up to walk through the scary ship. Pamala Jones was very impressed by the theme and how it was different from the typical haunted houses.

“I’m from up north and we’ve got really good haunted houses,” Jones said, “This is great; it was very scary.”

Chamber of Terror is open every weekend night for the month of October. On Thursday Oct. 20th they will give five dollars off admission with a valid student ID.

‘Make your own’ style at Florida Strawberry Festival

The Florida Strawberry Festival is the talk of the town in Plant City, but the talk of festival, is the “Make Your Own” Strawberry Shortcake booth. Whether you want cake or a biscuit, or little or a lot of whipped topping, Saint Clement Catholic Church gives visitors the chance to make their perfect shortcake. 

Saint Clement’s booth is one of the three booths that sell shortcake on the festival grounds. The “Make Your Own” style is what makes the church’s booth stand out from the rest. With the help from parishioners and volunteers, the booth has been running for 43 years. The organization has two coordinators that make sure the project continues to be successful. 

“I think it’s an astounding event and I love to be a part of it.”, said co-coordinator, Paul Hetrick. 

Hetrick has been a coordinator for three years, but has volunteered since 1987. His hard work and dedication to the project would not be complete without his co-coordinator, Kevin McFaul and committee. 

“The committee, it just makes this whole thing smooth. I mean there are just so many things going on. That are a part of this operation.”, Hetrick said. “And as coordinators, we are not necessarily checking up on them on a regular basis. They’re taking care of, because the people that are running them are autonomous.” 

There are over a 150 volunteers that contribute to the success of the booth. The committee and volunteers spend many hours of their day preparing berries, washing buckets, and working the booth at the festival. Some volunteers, like Joseph Herrmann, have been helping out since the project first began. 

“I’ve been here since the start. 43 years.”, Herrmann said. “And the first day we actually cut berries by hand with the prairie knives.” 

Now, there are machines that cut and wash the berries, which makes the process easier. 

Hetrick hopes that people visiting the festival not only get a delicious shortcake, but a friendly and welcoming experience. 

The booth is running all 11 days of the festival. Tickets are four dollars and can be bought at eight different Publix locations beforehand.

 

Copperfish Books finds home in downtown Punta Gorda

Cathy Graham opened her small business- Copperfish Books and Gifts- about three years ago with the goal to sell books and become closer to the community. Previously unable to establish her store downtown, Copperfish Books and Gifts is finally making its move to her intended location.

“I opened the store because I wanted to do more than just work out of my garage and run around in different directions.” Graham said. “You know, kind of become part of the community.”

Originally, downtown was the ideal location where Graham wanted to open her store. She expects more customers upon the move to the more populated area of the small town.

“We’ve always wanted to be downtown, but there was never space available.” Graham said.

The winter season is especially important for small businesses to earn significant profit.

“There’s a summertime here in Florida, and in Southwest Florida summertime is quite slow,” said Jerry Presseller, director of the Downtown Merchants Association in Punta Gorda.

Even in its new location, the goals of Copperfish are the same: attract customers and become part of Punta Gorda’s small town community.

“That’s the fun thing about owning a business, relationship building. It’s nice in a small town too, because you get to know people and they become regulars,” Graham said.

According to the Copperfish website, the store will officially move to 103 W. Marion Avenue, Main Street, as of March 1, 2016. A grand opening event will be held at 10 a.m. on March 5th. 

Collecting The “Booty” From the Pirade Of Pirates

Pereira
Photo by Dana Achatz

Even though some people view Gasparilla as a holiday to make it an all day party Marilyn Pereira wasn’t convinced. Pereira decided to stay away from the madness at Bayshore Boulevard and work a double shift as a server at World of Beer on Saturday. To her there was not much of an appeal to attend the event. It was more important to her to make some money than see the parade.

“I didn’t request off for Gasparilla because I didn’t really even know what it was,” Pereira said. “I just moved here and I didn’t know Gasparilla was today until pretty much everyone I work with requested off.”

Sometimes called the Mardi Gras of Florida; the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates attracts thousands to Tampa every year. The parade takes over the streets of downtown for a majority of the day. People from all over Florida make the trip to celebrate, and most of them are dressed up like pirates.

Pereira worked all morning and through most of the evening. She said she saw an increase in customers during her second shift Saturday evening after the parade had ended.

She described large groups of people of all ages weighed down with beads and wearing fake black beards and hats with giant feathers. She seemed to find the outfits a little silly. Even though she made more money than she had originally expected, she decided it might be worth it to attend Gasparilla next year.

“Yeah I would go. It would’ve been fun to tag along with someone,” Pereira said. “Maybe next year.”

Parking for booty during Gasparilla

Henry Sutter outside the Business Law Group
Henry Sutter outside the Business Law Group, P.A.
Sherry Cook fundraising for the Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind.
Sherry Cook fundraising for the Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along West Platt Street, people were profiting for different causes by offering parking spots in private properties.

Sherryl Cook, employment specialist at the Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind, was one of them. She started at the parking lot around 9:30 a.m.

The Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind is a non-profit organization that offers rehabilitation programs for persons who are blind or visually impaired.

“It usually picks up around one when the parade is going on,” Cook said.

The idea started 16 years ago when one of her coworkers discovered a group of homeless charging people for using their office parking lot during Gasparilla. They decided it would be a good idea create a fundraiser to collect donations to support the organization.

They agreed to a price match with other nearby parking lots to make it fair. This year they charged 20 dollars for each spot.

There were 50 spots, and Cook said she planned to be there until 2 p.m.

Cooks’ plans for the rest of the day were going home and resting after a long morning at the parking lot.

Henry Sutter, 57, was another Tampa resident who decided to make some profit out of Gasparilla.

Holding a “Best Parking” sign, Sutter started at 9 a.m. working at the parking lot with his wife Patty Sutter, who works as a legal attorney at the Business Law Group, P.A., a community association law firm.

They have done this before for collecting money and donating it to the Boys Scouts or churches. This year they did it if for their own profit.

“This is year is going to my daughter’s college car fund,” Henry Sutter said.

They had 35 spots. They charged 30 dollars per car.

“Once every two or three years, I’m here,” Henry Sutter said. “We rotate turns with other people from the law firm.”

Hope for Thanksgiving.

On Nov. 28th I went to feed the homeless and met some amazing people. We started at Sacred Heart Catholic Church where we prepared the food. Then drove it over to St. Peter Claver Catholic School where we served it to hungry people. While preparing the food I met an amazing woman named Kim, who has been coming every Saturday since she got married and even after her stroke, she still lends a hand. Many people were so hungry they came through the line two or three times. They also received a doggie bag that helps them throughout the rest of the day. I went there to give back but in the end I was the one that received the most.