By Paul Burdziakowski
For Hometown News
When Daytona Beach Shores was established back in 1960, the local business leaders were convinced a smaller community could provide better services to its residents.
Fast forward 53 years and you'll find it is that same reasoning that has inspired the creation and success of the Daytona Beach Shores Business Alliance.
The alliance started two years ago when four business owners got together over coffee and discussed what they could do to help each other and the city to be more successful. They came up with the idea of creating an alliance in which business owners would cooperate to promote commerce and new businesses as well as to voice important issues and to identify solutions to problems. The first official alliance meeting had 60 business owners in attendance and since that time the number has grown to 160.
Daytona Beach Shores is a small resort and retirement community along a five-mile stretch of the Atlantic Ocean between Daytona Beach and Ponce Inlet. The city is geared towards tourism and the service industry. Most cities have a chamber of commerce to further the interests of local businesses, but Daytona Beach Shores has not had one in about 10 years.
"Daytona Beach Shores Business Alliance acts very much like a chamber of commerce without the added yearly cost of membership fees," said Nancy Lilly, a local business owner.
Ms. Lilly is owner of TravelTyme, a full-service travel agency offering air, cruises, tours, hotels and car rentals. She is one of the four founding members of the alliance.
"We wanted there to be zero cost for people to be involved in the organization," she said. "The only requirement for joining is to have a licensed business located in Daytona Beach Shores."
"There is a big advantage to being a member of this business alliance," said Kevin Purucker, owner of The Cracked Egg Diner and one of the other alliance founders.
"Anyone in Daytona Beach Shores who wants to open a business and is a member of the business alliance, receives plenty of support and advice from other owners to help get their business started successfully," Mr. Purucker said. "We also cross promote each other really well."
Mr. Purucker and other business owners make sure to have plenty of business directory flyers available, which they distribute to their customers. The flyer lists and breaks down each business by category and provides address and phone number information.
"When people finish eating at my diner, they can glance over the directory and plan on where they want to go next in Daytona Beach Shores," Mr. Purucker said.
When it comes to the residents and visitors, there is really no need for them to go elsewhere to shop, because there is something for everyone at Daytona Beach Shores. There is a wide array of choices that local businesses offer, including lodging, dining and restaurants; health and beauty; recreation; shopping; business services; and real estate.
"You can do everything from buying a fishing worm to planning a trip around the world," Ms. Lilly said. "All we really want people to do is just shop the Shores."
Mr. Purucker noted two important accomplishments that would not have been possible without the benefit of having one big voice of all the business owners together. After speaking to the City Council, the alliance was able to get directional signs put into the median on Atlantic Avenue to point out their business locations.
A second example occurred when the city made a new sign ordinance that required each owner to change the business signage within a three-year time period. The alliance got together once again to find a solution to the expensive undertaking, which would cost each business owner $8,000 to $10,000 in a short amount of time. As a unified group, they were able to extend the time period to 10 years and also establish a grant program that would help each owner with the cost.
Business leaders stand behind five main benefits that customers are a part of when they shop at Daytona Beach Shores. Customers receive a more personalized customer service, the flow of tax dollars goes back into the community, commerce supports local families and creates new jobs, there is a more cost effective and environmentally friendly means of shopping due to proximity of each business, and just being a part of a relaxed environment with the unique personality that each business offers.