NAVARRE — Inside his store, Roger Parker has a 5-foot Christmas tree with a gold garland that says, “Believe.”
As in, he believes Wave Outfitters clothing store will make it to its fourth year.
“I got the most inventory of top brands in the Panhandle,” Parker said. “I’m proud to say that I have 35 brands and have them all pretty well stocked. We don’t have any knock offs.”
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Business clicks along in Navarre and its barrier island, Navarre Beach, until the dreaded winter months. That’s when all the tourists evaporate and the locals drive east to Fort Walton Beach, Destin or Sandestin or west to Pensacola to do their shopping.
Parkers’ survival strategy is to stock product people want. Next year, he plans to get his online presence up and running. A former maintenance man, the store is his retirement.
“I work hard now mentally and physically,” he said.
Just west on U.S. Highway 98, Foxy Boutique opened its first store eight years ago. It expanded to three before closing one recently.
Dora Zuses, who sells jewelry, accessories, gifts and more there, said this is her toughest winter in business. She flies a sale flag in the front of her gift store and advertises specials on Facebook.
“I feel like I’ve gone back three years,” Zuses said. “Eight years later, I’m trying to stay alive. They come through the front door but they’re buying less.”
Secret City Vapor of Navarre’s Shawn Van Nevel said from October to New Year’s business comes screeching to a halt. He has tried to stock the latest greatest flavors for people to smoke since his shop opened in October 2018.
“It’s just normal around holidays that we slow down,” Van Nevel said. “Tourist season is huge for us in our area, oh yeah.”
Outside TC’s Front Porch in the center of Navarre across from the Navarre Beach Bridge and Causeway, Bob Benaquis pulls out all the stops at his high profile location.
Customers can expect lunch and dinner specials and discounts on Facebook. And because it is an open air bar that sells food, it has signs flickering in front of the building advertising “We are heated.”
“We have to sharpen our appearance,” Benaquis. “Winter season is winter season. There’s not much you can do.”
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