Before our fellow media outlets decided that promoting local business was a cool idea, the Independent News, Pensacola’s locally owned newspaper, made buying local part of our agenda. We published our first “Stay Local” issue in 2009 based on the well-established premise that self-reliance is a key component of rebuilding our local economy. We steadfastly believed that the Pensacola area’s economy would recover primarily through the efforts of the businesses that are invested in our community.
Three years later, we see signs that our economy is climbing out of the recession brought on by three hurricanes, the collapse of the real estate market and the BP oil disaster. The WalMarts, Targets or Walgreens weren’t the catalysts. No, it was businesses like The Leisure Club, Susan Campbell Jewelry, Hopjacks and Pizzaz, and business owners like Corbett Davis, Joe Abston, Lewis Bear and the Merrill brothers.
Instead of retreating or withdrawing, these businesses and those profiled in this issue expanded, added locations, product lines and services, and invested even more into this community. These businesses are what make this place Pensacola and not Dothan, Crestview or Panama City.
The selection process for this issue wasn’t easy. We asked our readers through Rick’s Blog (ricksblog.biz) and our weekly newsletter to nominate locally owned businesses that they believed offered superior customer service and were integral to this community. Over 140 nominations were e-mailed.
We eliminated most of the restaurants, bars, health care facilities, attorneys and high-tech companies because we have special issues and sections devoted to them. Our editorial staff debated the remaining 120 nominations and ended up with the companies highlighted in this issue.
Did we miss your favorite? Don’t worry we’ll be doing this again.
Pensacola’s answer to hand-made bath goods started out as a hobby seven years ago. In 2008, Yvette Crooke-Avera decided to start a business with her sweet smelling products. Avera learned her soap making skills from her mother, and now she is passing them down to her daughters who occasionally help make products in the downtown store on Palafox.
Belle Ame’ products are made with pure essential oils, shea butter, mango butter, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, palm oil from Philippine farms, coconut oil, grape seed oil and cocoa oil.
“They are different from mass produced goods because the extremely high quality and freshness of the ingredients, packaging, and attention to detail lends them to be given as a unique and thoughtful gift with a personal touch,” Avera said.
Belle Ame’ products also help certain skin conditions. When Avera’s middle daughter developed mild eczema, she found the soap made a dramatic difference in her skin’s condition. Belle Ame’s products have been used in Hollywood gift baskets and are also available online. Bath goods are regularly donated for silent auctions and raffles that benefit local charities and organizations.
112 S. Palafox
Blues Angel Music
Blues Angel Music owner, Jim DeStafney has had a passion for music since he saw The Beatles in 1964. When he was planning his retirement from the Navy, he thought he would like to open a small music store to stay busy. “It was always one of those things that was a fantasy,” he said.
DeStafney opened Blues Angel Music 15 years ago in a small building that houses his 30 guitars and a dozen amplifiers he has acquired. It was about seven years ago, he said, that the business grew into more than a hobby. “There went my plans for early retirement,” he said with a laugh. “It was not all what I expected.”
The business doesn’t have any intention of slowing down, and after its two-mile move to its new location on Pace Blvd., DeStafney has noticed more clientele. “We have a greater visibility,” he said. “We’ve started to see a whole new group, like the surrounding churches, come in.”
Blues Angel Music regularly contributes to charities. The store hosted a fundraiser as part of its grand opening to support the USO and American Red Cross. Manufacturers donated musical instruments and equipment helping Blues Angel Music raise $9000 for the charities.
In the future, DeStafney hopes to work with the Belmont Youth Band. “Instruments are not dirt cheap,” he said. “We want to make it easier for kids to participate in musical programs.”
DeStafney runs the store with his wife and stepson and 18 employees. “It’s like having a big family,” he said. “I can’t complain. Every day I get to talk about music.”
Blues Angel Music
657 N. Pace Blvd.
Cat Country 98.7/NewsRadio 1620
Like a lot of good ideas, Pensacola’s only locally owned radio station was cooked up in the kitchen.
“We actually started the station on our dining room table,” laughed Mary Hoxeng, describing ADX Communications as a “mom-and-pop” operation.
Eight years ago, Mary and Dave Hoxeng sprung Cat Country 98.7 and NewsRadio 1620 onto the airwaves. Starting out with four staffers, the stations now employ about 60 people and can be heard from Hattiesburg, Miss. to Destin, Fla.
“We’ve come a long way,” Hoxeng said.
While Cat Country focuses on country music, Hoxeng describes NewsRadio 1620 as a “conservative news and talk format.” The former is an FM station, while the latter is AM.
Hoxeng said that she and her husband place a lot of emphasis on contributing to the local community.
“We really want to give back to the community that has been so good to us—we’re in every parade, and it’s not just a few people, our entire company walks the parades,” Hoxeng said, adding that employees are encouraged to actively participate in the local community.
“We can lease our employees to the community, so to speak, and we do that all the time.”
Cat Country 98.7
7251 Plantation Rd.
Although it’s their business to improve clients’ surroundings, Contract Resources also strives to improve their community.
For 22 years, Contract Resources has worked to create more efficient, flexible and aesthetically pleasing working environments. They sell office furniture and design workplaces. But they also help their clients create a new kind of workplace, one that reflects the client’s individual culture.
“If they allow us to become part of their team,” said Teresa Dos Santos, of Contract Resources, “we really help them incorporate their business overall.”
Locally owned and operated, Contract Resources also contributes to its local community.
“We are definitely very involved,” said Dos Santos.
The company routinely donates to and works with various organizations in the community. It also conducts workshops to help locals better design their own spaces.
Contract Resources also does something Dos Santos refers to as “scratch and dent” projects—the company sets aside slightly damaged furniture and donates it to charitable and non-profit organizations.
“We call different organizations and say ‘do you need this, do you need that?’” she said.
Dos Santos said she feels that Pensacola is about to take off, and that her company is in the position to help the city realize its future within comfortable, pleasing surroundings.
“We’re really poised to help Pensacola become more modernized,” she said. “We’re really glad we get to participate in that.”
30 E. Cedar St., Suite 101
Selling home and garden goods for almost 13 years, duh is your chance to shop where the designers shop. Both local and out-of-state designers flock here – some from Atlanta, Dallas and Birmingham, Ala. to score goods from brands from Aidan Gray to Zentique.
“We’re quite a resource,” said one of the owners, Jim Rigsbee. “We’re extremely competitive in our pricing. That’s why we get so many designers from out of town.”
Engaged couples may find it hard not to want everything in the store when registering for bridal gifts. Duh carries exclusive collections of glassware, porcelain, pewter and table and bed linens. Everything in the store is available to the public and that public is what duh cares so much about.
“We consider it very important to be involved with the community,” Rigsbee said. Pensacola Museum of Art, the ballet and the symphony, as well as, Gulf Coast Kid’s House and Covenant Hospice are some of the organizations to which duh contributes. “That’s a lot of our clientele,” Rigsbee said. “We do as much as we can, whether it’s donating merchandise for fundraisers or direct donations.”
Rigsbee and duh co-owner, Quinn Stinson, know that the community has played a major role in duh’s success. “In this economy we could not have continued to prosper without the community,” Rigsbee said.
501 N. Ninth Ave.
This fourth-generation jewelry store has survived the Great Depression and the more recent economic recession since opening its doors in 1919. “You just have to change with the times,” said one of the owners and fourth generation Elebash, Patrick. “We’re very fortunate for our loyal customer base.”
Elebash’s owes its loyal customers to its knowledgeable and helpful staff. “Everyone has been here for 30 years – well except for me,” said Elebash who joined the family business in 2005.
Elebash’s provides services such as: bridal registries, jewelry and watch repair, insurance appraisals and custom designs.
You don’t have to be getting engaged to receive a diamond from Elebash’s. This year marks the 2nd Annual Diamond Dash, a one-day treasure hunt, which leaves the winner with an $11,000 Simon G diamond ring. This year’s Diamond Dash is Saturday, April 14. The hunt starts at 10 a.m. at Seville Quarter.
Elebash’s also contributes to the community by supporting local charities such as: the Salvation Army, the Escambia County United Way, and the University of West Florida. “We support several organizations around town,” Elebash said. “That’s where our customers come from. Shop local, support local.”
36 S. Palafox
In September 2010, Cindi Bonner decided to float a curious concept. She opened up shop and waded in.
“We opened for one month to see if it would take off in the community,” Bonner said. “And it did.”
Bonner found that people were immediately curious about her business—Fitness Onboard— which aims to combine exercise and yoga with the sport of paddle boarding.
“Our goal is to better the health of the community,” she said.
Less than two years in, Bonner is employing a staff of four in addition to 11 instructors, while still making it a point to actively contribute to the local community.
“I don’t know how many non-profits we’ve helped,” she said. “It’s easy for me to help them with silent auctions and stuff.”
The business has also put together Paddle for a Cure, an annual event to raise money for local colon and pancreatic cancer patients. The event features participants paddling a course in Little Sabine Bay on Pensacola Beach.
“We ended up raising $18,000 for an event that we put together in six weeks,” Bonner said, explaining that the money went to the Sacred Heart Foundation. “We kept every penny local.”
Though the business is still fairly new, Bonner said she expects it to continue growing. She also expects to continue contributing to the local community.
“I was born and raised in Pensacola,” she said. “And I was raised to give back to the community.”
Fitness Onboard’s 2012 season begins May 5 with a free demo day. Visit the business’ Facebook page for more information and to make a reservation.
165 Ft. Pickens Rd.
Fixed On Fitness
Helping get Pensacola in shape, Fixed on Fitness has been offering outdoor exercising opportunities for the past five years.
“We have people from all walks of life,” said Kenzie Presnell, who runs the business with her husband, Josh Presnell.
Fixed on Fitness is a boot-camp style workout program. Kenzie describes it as “personal training in an outdoor, group atmosphere.”
For six weeks, campers meet at Bayview Park in Pensacola—there’s also a camp offered in Perdido Key now—to exercise and socialize. The setting provides the stage for friendships and networking.
“We call it the fitness network,” Kenzie said.
The husband-wife Fixed on Fitness team also enjoys the opportunities the business has presented them to give back to the community. In addition to giving out $8,000 worth of free boot camps each year to charities, the business also helps collect tennis shoes for the homeless and sponsors local runs.
“We really try to do as much as we can,” Kenzie said.
Fixed on Fitness
1218 E. Maxwell St.
Great Southern Restaurant Group
For more than a decade, the Great Southern Restaurant Group has been serving downtown Pensacola diners at its trio of restaurants: Jackson’s Steakhouse, Fish House and Atlas Oyster House.
“Our philosophy at all of the restaurants,” said owner Collier Merrill, “is to continually strive for excellence.”
In addition to offering both casual, deck dining and big-night-out elegance, the Great Southern Restaurant Group also focuses on the local community.
“My brothers and I were born and raised here, we love Pensacola and know how important it is to give back however we can,” Merrill said.
Each year, the business contributes to numerous non-profit organizations. Such organizations include United Way, the Naval Aviation Museum, the University of West Florida and Pensacola State College, Pensacola Opera, Pensacola Museum of Art, ARC Gateway, Children’s Home Society, Pensacola Children’s Chorus, Gulf Coast Kid’s House, as well as, local schools.
And while the Great Southern Restaurant Group contributes generously to the local community, the southern hospitality and grits at the Fish House may have been enough to put them on the list.
“Our guests want the same thing we want,” Merrill said, “great service and great food.”
600 S. Barracks St.
Atlas Oyster House
600 S. Barracks St.
400 S. Palafox
Gulf Coast Community Bank
Want to keep your money local? Real local? Try banking with Gulf Coast Community Bank. The company concentrates on Escambia and Santa Rosa counties and strives to deliver personal service that only a hometown institution can.
“We believe that customer service is the number one thing that we can do to differentiate ourselves,” said CEO Buzz Ritchie. “When you walk in the door we want to shake your hands, we want to say good morning.”
Ritchie said the bank considers itself part of the local community and feels its customers are neighbors and friends. Being a member of the community means giving back.
“It’s just part of our culture, part of our mission statement,” Ritchie said, explaining how both the bank and its individual employees routinely participate in charitable events such as Relay for Life and Habitat for Humanity.
The CEO attributes Gulf Coast Community Bank’s giving spirit to the fact that it is so hyper-local.
“I think that’s part of the reason that Gulf Coast Community Bank is so intent on giving back,” Ritchie said. “This is our only community. We don’t answer to anyone in New York or North Carolina.”
Gulf Coast Community Bank
Main Branch: 40 N. Palafox
Indigeaux Denim Bar and Boutique
Whether it’s a pair of comfy Joe’s Jeans or even local accessories, Indigeaux Denium Bar and Boutique has items you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else in Pensacola. “The number one thing Indigeaux offers that the mall doesn’t is great costumer service and a unique shopping experience,” said owner, Katie Rozier.
“We offer three different premium denim brands: Paige Denim, Joe’s Jeans, and our newest that will be introduced at the end of April, DL1961s. We also have lots of great apparel brands such as Lilla P., Judith March and Line and Dot that you cannot find at the mall.”
Indigeaux also features items by local accessories designer Lacey Berry and two other local artists, Jill Broxson-Teston and Lauren Lambert. “As a locally-owned, small business we want to help some of the local artists build their business, as well,” Rozier said.
Rozier has worked in retail for three years and like many women, loves clothes. When her favorite local store, Studio B., closed Rozier took it upon herself to open a unique boutique in downtown Pensacola.
“I chose downtown because I am often downtown for dinner and the night-life and I thought shopping would make it that much more exciting,” she said. “I also think that our downtown is not only beautiful because of its waterfront and charm, but it is also a short drive from Pensacola Beach. Being so close to the beach gives a place for tourists to visit after a long day at the beach, when it rains during the summer, or if they got too sun burned.”
Indigeaux Denim Bar and Boutique
122 S. Palafox
Jeweler’s Trade Shop
Since Jeweler’s Trade Shop first opened in 1956, the family owned and operated business has been committed to fun and friendly service. “Our staff is phenomenal,” said owner Corbett Davis III. “They really care about the customers. We combine passion for being the best with a fun, playful attitude.”
You know you’re shopping local when you can shake hands with the owner of the store. “You’re always going to see myself or my dad – we’re always within an earshot.”
There are three gemologists at Jeweler’s Trade Shop including both Corbett Davises and six master jewelers. “Combined they have 150 years of experience between them,” Davis said.
The business has been creating custom designs since it opened when it was simply a “trade shop.”
As the community supports Jeweler’s Trade Shop – whether it’s through loyal customers or their 18 dedicated employees, the store gives right back. The business is active in Pensacola Rotary and regularly contributes to PACE Center for Girls, Gulf Coast Kid’s House and the American Cancer Society. They also support the local opera house and symphony. “You have to support the arts,” Davis said. “That’s what makes the town special.”
Jeweler’s Trade Shop
26 S. Palafox
The Leisure Club
There are only a few places to choose from when grabbing a cup of coffee downtown, but The Leisure Club is still the best choice. There’s the pour-over method, the mind-bending art and, of course, the metropolitan atmosphere.
Nestled on Palafox Street, near the Saenger Theatre, this is more than a coffee bar. It is a hub for Pensacola’s progressive, caffeine-jazzed crowd.
The Leisure Club is also a business that strives to give back to the local community. The restaurant contributes—via donating gift cards and food—to local causes, such as The Belmont Arts Center, PACE Center for Girls, Montessori and Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk. This April, the business will be participating in Dining Out for Life, which benefits the Oasis Community Center.
The arts are another major focus at The Leisure Club. In addition to regularly featuring the works of local artists on the walls—such as the drawings of Evan Levin, or the photography of Rachel Pongetti—the business also hosts exhibits and performances.
“We think the presence and fostering of creative ideas and talent is important to Pensacola’s development as a community,” said co-owner Denise Berry. “We want The Leisure Club to be a space that supports creative voices and introduces them to new eyes and ears.”
New in 2012, The Leisure Club is now offering ice cream and on-tap coffee for customers on the go. The ice cream is from small-batch High Road Craft Ice Cream and Sorbet in Atlanta, and flavors will be rotated regularly.
The Leisure Club
126 S. Palafox
Lewis Bear Company
This beverage distributorship was founded in 1876 and holds the regional franchise for Anheuser-Busch with offices in DeFuniak Springs, Fla. and Panama City, Fla.
Over the years, the company handled everything from groceries, liquor, appliances and guns, but in the mid-1990s, Lewis Bear, Jr. sold off all the other interests, bought out his cousins and refocused the business on its beer distributorship.
Today, his sons, David and Lewis III, and his son-in-law, Chad Bonner, work in the business.
It’s difficult to find a charity or community organization that hasn’t been helped by the Lewis Bear family. In 2009, Lewis helped to raise over $400,000 to put heart defibrillators in Escambia County schools, the patrol cars of the Pensacola police and the Escambia County Sheriff’s deputies and other public places.
David Bear led the formation of Art, Culture And Entertainment, Inc. (ACE) which supports area cultural and art organizations. Belle Bear, the wife of Lewis Bear, Jr., is co-founder of Pensacola Bay IMPACT 100, which has awarded over $3 million in grants to local non-profits over the past nine years.
Lewis Bear Company
6120 Enterprise Dr.
It’s small. And that’s alright.
“Our whole goal is to stay really, really small and give East Pensacola Heights a really neat little place to call their own and come have a sandwich at midnight,” said Kiley Bolster.
Last Halloween, Bolster and Bill Manning opened The Magnolia, a comfortable bar nestled off of Cervantes St. The couple didn’t know what to expect.
“We just kind of jumped on it,” Bolster said, “not really knowing what we were getting into.”
While The Magnolia features a select menu, the bar’s big deal is their canned craft beer.
Currently, Bolster is excited about Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which just became available in a can a few weeks ago.
“There’s just a whole movement back toward canned beer,” she said, explaining that cans offer environmental benefits over glass or plastic bottles. “Also, it stays really, really cold.”
Another benefit of cans: The Magnolia saves the tabs to donate to the Ronald McDonald House which uses the recyclables to help pay the organization’s power bill.
Bolster said that she and Manning enjoy giving back to the local community whenever possible. They have partnered with groups such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and have donated a portion of the business’ Valentine’s Day proceeds to the American Heart Association. The Magnolia also sponsored a toy drive in December to go to less fortunate children at Christmas time.
Another way The Magnolia is plugging into the local community, aside from recycling cans: the bar is in the process of installing tap lines so that they can offer beer brewed a few miles away at the Pensacola Bay Brewery.
2907 E. Cervantes St.
McMahon & Hadder Insurance
As a salesmen of insurance, Donnie McMahon considers community to be his business.
“Our business is about relationships,” McMahon said.
McMahon & Hadder Insurance has been in business since 1990 and its coverage area spans from Pensacola, Fla. to Destin, Fla. The operation prides itself on offering the community personal service.
“We have very personal relationships with our clients,” said McMahon. “It’s kind of a one-on-one relationship.”
But McMahon & Hadder is about more than insurance. The company also makes it a priority to get involved with the local community.
“We sponsor a lot of local not-for-profits in their efforts,” McMahon said. “We just encourage our people to get involved.”
McMahon & Hadder Insurance
375 N. Ninth Ave.
Peg Leg Pete’s/Sidelines Sports Bar/Maria’s Fresh Seafood Market
Before the bar at the other end of the beach was Peg Leg Pete’s, it was just somewhere that Scott Amberson enjoyed blowing off steam when he got off work.
“That was the place I always hung out,” said Amberson.
After changing hands a couple of times, the bar abruptly shut its doors in the early 1990s. Without too much thought, Amberson ponied up a couple of months worth of rent and people have been slurping down oysters and beer for more than twenty years since.
A year after opening Peg Leg Pete’s Oyster Bar, Amberson—who partners with his wife, Kristen, and brother, Jim— launched Sidelines Sports Bar near Casino Beach. In 2000, he bought Maria’s Fresh Seafood Market, a local seafood supplier.
In 1991, Peg Leg Pete’s employed about a half a dozen workers. Today, the bar boasts a staff of 180. Another 140 employees work at Sidelines, while Maria’s employees 25 people.
In addition to contributing to the local job pool, Amberson said his businesses also strive to give back to the local community. Whenever the opportunity arises, the businesses sponsor youth sports teams, or contribute to and participate in various fundraisers and charities.
“We try to do as much as possible,” Amberson said.
Peg Leg Pete’s
1010 Fort Pickens Road
Sidelines Sports Bar and Restaurant
2 Via De Luna Drive
Maria’s Fresh Seafood Market
621 E. Cervantes St.
Pen Air Federal Credit Union
When Pen Air set up shop in 1936, its first headquarters were humble but the rent was affordable.
“We started in a cigar box in Pensacola with $4500 in it,” said CEO David Tuyo. “It’s a great story.”
Since then, the credit union has grown to 108,000 members strong, and serves Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, as well as Baldwin County in Alabama. The company now employs about 300 people.
Tuyo said that when he arrived in town a few years ago he was excited to see the community spirit—both community-wide and within his own company.
“I saw all these people serving the community and serving each other,” he said.
The company regularly supports local institutions—the ballet, the symphony, the Wahoos—and also contributes to non-profits. Pen Air employees recently raised $30,000 to go toward fighting breast cancer.
“It’s a very special place,” Tuyo said of the area. “We want to make sure we do our part.”
Pen Air Federal Credit Union
1495 E. Nine Mile Road
An institution of the city, Pensacola Hardware is more than just a place to buy nails, it’s a part of Pensacola history. The locally owned store has been open since 1851.
James M. Coe and Martin M. Coe are the current owners. Their family bought the business in 1920, when it was known as Ray’s Corner Hardware. “We’ve helped build Pensacola for sure,” said James M. Coe. Coe is excited to see that the downtown area has continued to grow. “We love being a part of the resurgence of business,” he said.
The inventory at Pensacola Hardware is practically endless – from cleaning supplies, to lawn care, to power and hand tools to grills. “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it,” said Coe. “We’re not a typical hardware store.”
Pensacola Hardware supports local children through after-school athletic programs. “We’re definitely involved behind the scenes with an emphasis on children,” Coe said.
The institution that is Pensacola Hardware will continue to be a part of the city’s history and watch as businesses open up. “The future looks very bright,” Coe said. “It’s just a pleasure to see the city accumulate downtown business. It’s about time.”
20 E. Gregory St.
When mother and daughter, Viki and Courtney Weir opened the doors of Pizzaz in 2008, they had no idea what the future had in store for them. “When we first opened Pizzaz in the 1000 square foot space, we had no idea how much and how fast we would grow,” said co-owner Viki Weir. “We had to sign a one year lease, and thought we would either sink or swim. Well, it turned out we’re paddle boarding.”
Gulf Breeze and Pensacola have supported the business as it moved into a building more than three times the size of their original location and opened another store, Sugarbabies.
Viki and Courtney do their best to return the favor. “We support our community through donations, auction items, and monetary support,” Weir said. “We regularly support the local schools, Gulf Breeze Arts Festival, Children’s Home Society, PACE Center for Girls, Little Red School House, ARC Gateway Foundation, Ballet Pensacola, and numerous other clubs and organizations.”
It’s not just the store’s space that has grown, but also the staff. Pizzaz employs 16 individuals who assist customers in finding that perfect gift. “Purchasing a gift from Pizzaz and Sugarbabies is a different experience because of our talented staff,” Weir said. “They provide a wide range of ideas and suggestions.”
Pizzaz also offers personalization through embroidery, engraving, printing and heat press, as well as, complimentary gift-wrapping.
“The best part of our business, as a mother and daughter partnership, is having each other to rely on and working with our best friend,” Weir said.
832 Gulf Breeze Pkwy.
Sugarbabies by Pizzaz
848 Gulf Breeze Pkwy.
PR Chemical & Paper Supply
For more than three decades, PR Chemical and Paper Supply has been providing a personal touch for customers in need of janitorial and paper supplies. The family-owned business also prides itself on contributing to the local community.
“We try very hard to do as much business as we can with local businesses,” said Dawn Clay.
Along with her brother, Shawn Snyder, Clay aims to offer customers the expertise and customer service lacking in the big box store experience. The company services an area stretching from Panama City, Fla. to Mobile, Ala., with a concentration in the Pensacola to Destin area.
In addition to selling janitorial and paper products, the folks at PR also place an emphasis on working with charitable organizations.
“We do a ton of business with non-profits,” said Snyder, adding that the company also donates cash and supplies to about 30 charitable organizations each year.
As a way to reach out and connect to the local community, PR Chemical and Paper Supply also hosts a number of free instructional seminars. Attendees learn how to do tasks ranging from properly stripping wax to cleaning floors.
PR Chemical and Paper Supply
3435 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.
At Running Wild you can purchase shoes that fit your feet and needs perfectly, train and sign up for local races. Employees are all running enthusiasts—or are at least trained so much that they become one. “We don’t ask ‘What’s your 10K time at an interview,’” said owner Paul Epstein. “But we have a training program where we teach our staff biomechanics and everything running related.”
And when it comes to shoes, it’s all about functionality. “We’re not selling a shoe, it’s meeting someone’s needs—they may not be the prettiest colors or the hottest trends,” Epstein said.
The staff at Running Wild wants to see customers reach their goals, whether it’s running a 5K for the first time, which Running Wild offers a training program for, or a triathlon. “We develop a personal relationship with our customers,” Epstein said.
Getting the community active has resulted in very happy customers. “We’ve had some incredible stories were people lose pounds just from running,” Epstein said.
Running Wild happily supports YMCA and races that raise funds for charities, such as the Ronald McDonald House 5K. “It’s just our philosophy,” Epstein said. “The more people support us the more we can support the community.”
3012 E. Cervantes St.
Seville Quarter has been part of the Pensacola scene for more than 40 years. In that time, the company and the Pensacola community have shared a reciprocal relationship.
“Everyday it seems like we’re able to give to a charity,” said General Manager Jack Williams. “It seems like we’re always doing something for a charity.”
Williams said that Seville Quarter—comprised of several adjoining venues—is well equipped to contribute to local charities due to their spacious digs. When a charitable organization is looking for a place to host an event, the Quarter is a natural choice and often will donate the space to local organizations.
While Seville Quarter is definitely a family affair—about 10 members of the family clan work at the business—it has also employed a good number of locals throughout the years. Williams said the business puts about 125 people to work “when we’re really clicking.”
In the future, Williams said, there are plans to open a restaurant in the building located across Government St. from Seville Quarter. With an additional establishment on the other side of the street, the general manager hopes to create a sort of insulated party atmosphere.
“We should be able to close the street more and create our own little scene here,” Williams said.
130 E. Government St.
Susan Campbell Jewelry
Susan Campbell Jewelry features pieces that are more like wearable art than just a statement necklace or charm bracelet. That’s because Susan Campbell Hatler was a portrait sculptor before she began making jewelry.
Hatler and her husband, Ryan opened the store in 2006 and are active in the Arts Council, Pensacola Young Professionals and Pensacola Historic District Merchants. Susan Campbell Jewelry also contributes to the community through donations to Ballet Pensacola, Children’s Home Society of Florida and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation.
Other local artists are featured in Hatler’s store. Right now you can find pieces from jewelry artist Delia Stone and glass artist Scott Novota, as well as, designers from around the country. “I am excited to supplement the amazing designers I carry with pieces I think complement their outstanding work,” she said.
Susan Campbell Jewelry offers high-end and lower-priced pieces. “We carry a variety of price points because women want different things,” Hatler said. “Some women are constantly trying new styles, while others consider jewelry as an investment and build a collection over time.”
And no matter what the price is, the jewelry is top notch. “All of our pieces are created with a very high standard of craftsmanship – truly heirlooms,” Hatler said.
Anyone looking to update their jewelry box can bring in old pieces for reassembling, and don’t forget about the extensive collection of fine freshwater and saltwater pearls. “We are putting together an educational seminar on pearls for the month of May,” Hatler said. “Be on the look-out.”
Susan Campbell Jewelry
32 S. Palafox
That small store on Ninth Avenue might be deceiving by its outward appearance, but inside is wall-to-wall design accessories you can’t find anywhere else in Pensacola. “I love modern design,” said owner Sarah Gillette. “I buy what I like.”
Gillette opened the store five years ago as a result of not finding her favorite modern design brands locally. “I’ve always been a person who likes to shop local,” she said. “When I couldn’t find what I like around here I decided to open a store.”
When Gillette sells an item, there’s no question that she loves it. “When I buy stuff that I let someone talk me into, I don’t sell it,” she said. Brands such as Blu Dot, Imm Living and Kartell keep locals from having to go to Atlanta for home accessories.
Urban Object is also an incredible lighting source. Unique lamps take up much of the store’s space. Custom designs are available too. Urban Objects has collaborated to help design and fabricate custom lighting fixtures for Vinyl Music Hall, the Mobile Country Club and Jaco’s Bayfront Bar and Grille with Brian Spencer.
Every year, Gillette attends the International Contemporary Furniture Fair to look for new urban objects. “Right now, I’m focusing more on items that are green and made in the United States – I’m focusing more on quality.”
Gillette regularly contributes to the local arts: the ballet, opera and Belmont Arts and Cultural Center namely. Urban Objects also sells tote bags made by low-to-no-income individuals through FaithWorks InterFaith Ministries Network, Inc. Urban Objects gives all proceeds made from the bags right back to the organization.
500 N. 9th Ave.
Local surfers and skaters don’t just shop at Waterboyz, they hang out there, too. The indoor skate park gives shoppers and loiters alike a fun and safe environment to be active.
It’s not just about selling skate and surfboards – the store even has space for birthday parties and events. “We pride ourselves on providing a safe, fun place for kids to hang out and skate,” said Courtney Fell, marketing and events coordinator at Waterboyz. “Often, the shop feels more like a clubhouse or a rec center than a traditional retail business. Lots of kids feel very much at home here.”
When the time comes to purchase a new surfboard, Waterboyz is the store to visit. Waterboyz sells surfboards and clothes that are made locally. “We have always had the desire and ability to build and create,” Fell said. “We take pride in using local talent for manufacturing.”
Owner Sean Fell has been shaping boards since the late 1980s. Even in his early business years, Fell was selling to California, Texas and even Puerto Rico. Now, the store features a shape shop, screen-printing, apparel and footwear.
Waterboyz also supports the community by way of donating to organizations such as: Sparrow Skate Church, Surfers on a Mission and the Sacred Heart Foundation, to name a few.
380 N. 9th Ave.