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Great turnout for SCC Spring Trade Show

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image Eric Garson, manager of Fletcher’s Music Centers, demonstrates how easy it is to play a Lowrey home organ. Photo Lia Martin

Despite the sunny weather, residents and visitors alike came into Community Hall to inspect what the 89 vendors had on display.


To say the 2014 Sun City Center Spring Business Expo  was a hit would be an understatement. Two hours into last Thursday’s event, Jonnie Cooper of Sun Towers said she had handed out 600 event bags and 300 brownies.

“The residents of Sun City Center are here today,” said Dana Dittmar, Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce executive director.

Residents attended despite the sunny weather, and when I asked Dittmar why the event was such a success, there was no hesitation on her part.

“Commerce!” she said.

There were 89 vendors who displayed their wares: home services, emergency services, the music and arts, banking and financial services and not-for-profit organizations; South Bay and St. Joseph’s Hospital South representatives were there with spinning wheels, gifts like pens and rulers, and boxes overflowing with addresses and phone numbers, and people crowding  Community Hall underscored a living success story.

SCC Chamber president Debbie Caneen, who is also the director of admissions at retirement and rehabilitation community Sun Towers, agreed with Dittmar on the number of residents that turned out.

During the day, people not living in the area were gathering information about everything from financial planning to retirement, or assisted living, according to Caneen.

Jennifer McCafferty had only three apples left to hand out by 11:30 a.m. that day, she said. McCafferty, who owns Jen’s Marketplace and is a leader and participant at many of the not-for-profit endeavors in the community, was pleased to see the activity. She is very optimistic about the growth in Sun City Center.

McCafferty runs three markets where farmers and entrepreneurs alike can offer their wares inexpensively. Her markets are located at the Sun City Center Chamber the fourth Saturday of the month, at The Landing at Waterset on the third Saturday of the month, and in Apollo Beach at the Waterside Shops Plaza on the second Sunday of the month.

McCafferty feels good about offering a venue to the vendors not having the resources, or means, to have their own retail outlet.

“A ton of people, farmers and entrepreneurs, don’t have brick and mortar,” McCafferty said.

Assistant chief Jan Huber was there with her band of volunteers representing the Sun City Center Emergency Squad. They were there to take blood pressures and look for additional volunteers.

“We have 6,000 calls a year, which saves the residents $5 million to $6 million a year,” Huber said. “We are on duty 24/7, 365 days a year.”

This all-volunteer team survives completely on donations.

Eric Garson, manager of Fletcher Music Centers, was demonstrating the Lowrey home organ. Fletcher has been in business for more than 109 years, with 13 stores in Florida, and caters only to seniors.

Garson became involved with Fletcher when he owned a business in Bradenton next to a Fletcher’s retail store. Eventually he began to take music lessons himself.

“They were teaching me to play a song in the front of the mall,” Garson said, laughing. His wife thought he was crazy, but he loved it. “The average student is 77 years of age,” he said.

Eight months after he retired, he began working at Fletcher’s as a piano instructor. It is now almost 14 years, and he is now immersed in a career that he loves.

Part-time resident of Sun City Center Del Levy had a ball at the event. This is not the first time she has attended the Spring Business Expo.

“It is always a good show,” Levy said.

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