In the Key West Citizen, Pru Sowers explains the fast-growing Key West Mom & Pop’s group, writing:
Key West Mom & Pop’s is the brainchild of Paul Menta, owner of the Hemingway Rum Company, maker of Papa’s Pilar Rum, and Mark Gambuzza, ( disclaimer : Mark is a good friend of mine) owner-operator of Uva Wine Shoppe on Fleming Street.
A private Mom & Pop’s Facebook page for small business owners to discuss ideas quickly grew to 260 members. Menta then did a little research on how many smaller businesses there actually are in Key West. He found there are 9,300 businesses licenses in total in the city, but the main business organizations, the Key West Chamber of Commerce and the Key West Business Guild, together have only around 2,000 members.
The Mom & Pop’s group has quickly come up with two primary areas where the city can help small business owners, he said. The first revolves around city regulations, which cover almost every aspect of how a business operates in Key West. Loosening some regulations and fast-tracking others would help, he said. “Anything you do requires a [city] application and a fee. Even if it’s to put a potted plant outside your business to make the block look better, there is an application and a fee,” Gambuzza said, adding, “The city needs to make it easier for business to do businesses.”
The second area of change the Mom & Pop’s members want to see revolves around how Key West is marketed.
TDC leans towards highlighting “festivals and wave runners.” “Many of these festivals bring in outside businesses, outside vendors, outside sponsors. When you are a small business owner, you can’t go up against these guys,” said Gambuzza.
“How about advertising the Keys for the charming reasons people live here; people dining, people shopping, people fishing? The TDC is doing nothing to advertise small business and the things people do every day here.”
BY PRU SOWERS
Key West Citizen
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