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In Praise of the Weather

It was so cold last week you could almost feel your eyeballs freeze; which was a nice distraction from hearing your teeth chatter.  We even overheard someone joke—at least we think it was a joke—that it was so cold they had to open the refrigerator to warm-up their condo.

Then, just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did.  The nastiest blast of arctic cold in many years had the supreme bad manners to reserve itself for what might otherwise have been a typically lovely beach and swimsuit weekend.

To add insult to injury, we got no sympathy from our friends and families up north who can’t seem to find a single reason to feel compassion for people who don’t as a rule own winter coats or gloves.  Truth be told, our plants and shrubs were bundled up against the frost better than most of us were.

Which brings us to why on earth we’re pausing today to praise our recent weather.  Sure it was a surprisingly long spell of unusually cold weather—one that only occurs every two decades or so.   But Minnesota it wasn’t.

We are so accustomed to dependably glorious winters in Southwest Florida that it takes one of these rare bouts of frigid weather to remind us just how great we have it.  Luckily, we can take our fabulous winters for granted and be reasonably sure there’ll be others like it year after year.  Not so, many of the other unique diversions that add so much to our region’s stellar reputation and quality of life.

Take for example, the independently owned shops, restaurants and galleries that populate such places as downtown Sarasota and Bradenton, St. Armands Circle, Gulf Gate, Lakewood Ranch; and further south on Venice Avenue in Venice, and Dearborn Street in Englewood.  In the best of times, they are up against those ubiquitous, better known big-box chain stores and restaurants—who scarcely hiccup when one of their stores closes.  In tougher times, every day is an uphill climb for the local independent merchant, restaurateur and various other small business owners.  Put off sampling their goods and services and they’re in danger of disappearing before you ever get the chance to find out what you’ve been missing.

The same goes for supporting our visual and performing arts organizations.  Have you attended a play, opera, symphony, ballet or performance at the Van Wezel lately?  Or visited the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art since it virtually tripled in size with exhibits and attractions the likes of which you can’t find anywhere else?  We can think of no finer ways to spend a day or evening when the occasional batch of crummy weather forces us inside.  After all, without these world-class arts groups we’d be just another Florida beach town.

Needless-to-say, we couldn’t be more solidly behind the local organizations that have sprung up to promote and preserve the unique pleasures and importance of our homegrown retail and dining establishments. One such organization, The Sarasota-Manatee Originals, is a superb example.  Begun in 2003, the group of 24 local restaurateurs banded together to preserve our community’s distinct culinary heritage.  Today, they count among their membership some 50 of the regions best independent dining establishments from Anna Maria Island to South Venice. Learn which restaurant may became your new favorite at freshoriginals.com.

ThisWeekInSarasota.com is another terrific Web site from which to obtain a weekly snapshot of all the upcoming events and happenings that regularly take place amid Sarasota’s vibrant arts and culinary scene.

Naturally, we would be horribly remiss as the region’s leading home-grown real estate company if we failed to point out that the incredible buying opportunities that exist in today’s local market won’t be around forever either. Like last week’s bizarre weather, they only show up once in a blue moon. Already inventories of properties in the lower price ranges–$300,000 and below—are approaching levels considered normal in a balanced market.  There has even been a small measure of price appreciation in the lower price ranges, which may be the first sign of an end to the buyers’ market in all price ranges.

We can talk about the weather until we’re blue in the face (like we were for the better part of last week); but we can’t do anything but make the best of it.  We can, on the other hand, greatly influence the climate of our local retail, culinary and arts scene.   Please patronize local businesses as a regular part of your daily routine. Think locally so that we can remain famously unique globally.

Written by Tom Heatherman – Michael Saunders & Company

* Follow Tom on Twitter: twitter.com/SarasotaRE

*photo courtesy of www.vitalyte.com

  • User Gravatar Gerrid
    January 16th, 2010

    Tom,

    Thanks for the update! I’m definitely looking forward to a wonderful (and warmer) weekend. No better time to buy than now.

    Best of luck,
    Gerrid

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