Friday, January 30, 2009

Local dry cleaners offers green service

In my desperation to unload my ever-growing dry clean only monster (and hang on to my credit score), I zipped around town looking for a solution. There just aren't many choices that suit my -ahem- frugal nature. And I am NOT carting the pile all the way over the Skyway to find a cheaper cleaners in Pinellas.
And just as I was about to give up, and resign myself to the fact that we were going to have to build on an addition to house the mess, I found Ellenton Cleaners. By accident. I was turning around in their parking lot and came face to face with their sign. Funny how things happen that way.
So I dashed in to check their prices, and got another surprise: They are green! The Ellenton Cleaners is completely toxic solvent free and safe for the environment. I have no idea how they do it, but they're very proud of it. Anything environmentally friendly scores huge point with me.
I braced myself for the price quote, but was surprised to find them very reasonable. And a two-day turnaround on that whole pile. Works for me! Fast, cheap and green. Now what more could I ask for?
The Ellenton Cleaners is tucked away next to a florist at 1218 36th Avenue East (which is Ellenton-Gillette Road). The Patel family opened it two years ago, and has been quietly providing this cleaner, greener, fresher dry cleaning service to Ellenton right under my nose.
They also keep good hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. through 7 p.m., Wednesdays until 6 p.m. Saturdays they're open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (941) 722-6291.
They have lots of other services besides dry cleaner, I'm told. They boast expert stain removal, and also garment preservation.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just trying to keep it clean!

The pile of clothes in the corner waiting to go off to the dry cleaners is growing.
Now, I’m not a slob. (I swear.) Nor am I lazy. But that pile keeps on getting larger, and is beginning to take on the shape of Jabba the Hut. Today, when I came home from work, it had eyes. I’m afraid to see what it looks like tomorrow.
The problem is this: I’m cheap. And taking clothes down to the very expensive dry cleaners sometimes requires a co-signer and the name of your first born. Very against my frugal nature. I don’t go very many places; most of my life is lived in a uniform or like now, in pajamas curled up with a laptop, diligently tapping away at something. It might take me six months to get enough finery together to make the trip over to the cleaners.
It was in these six months that the Albertsons grocery chain coughed its death rattle, and took with it the little cheap dry cleaning counter it ran, both victims of the economy’s carnage of late.
I actually stood in the empty parking lot, Jabba in my arms, tumble weeds going by, staring at the dark store front. Now what do I do?
And please, no one suggest the over-the-counter sheets and bag that really don’t do anything that I can see. I wrecked a blazer with it once. An expensive one. Let me tell you how that goes over with my wallet.
Intent on bringing some business to my fellow local independent retailers, I check around town and got dizzy from the prices. I had to actually lie down.
So what is a girl to do, with a large, “dry-clean only” monster growing in the corner and a tight fist on her dollars?
My husband had a suggestion: Wear cheaper stuff. My suggestion back to him was not suitable for print.
If the pile gets any bigger I may have to have him build a spare addition on to the house. If it starts to speak, I’m moving out.

10 promising careers

Joy Victory, of, says these 10 careers are in demand these days. Note that the average salaries listed are nationwide averages, not Tampa Bay averages ... Here are her top picks, along with our take here at

Auditing. With all of the economic upheaval, businesses are being watched more carefully than ever, which makes auditing careers more secure than ever. median salary - $64,914

Job Counseling. Makes sense; more people unemployed, more people looking for help. Median salary - $54,426

Psychological Counseling. Self-worth is often tied to job, experts say; so with so many people losing their jobs these days, more are feeling identity crises. Median salary - $40,275

Public Relations. Keep in mind, this isn't all the fun, glitzy stuff, like promoting new products or stars. PR experts are the ones who have to explain the bad stuff, too, like layoffs and other budget cuts. Median salary - $44,334

We'll let her explain this one: While this line of work is fairly foreign to most folks, now that bank loans are hard to come by, factoring allows small business to get funding based on their current accounts receivable -- the money they expect to have coming in. Factoring works well for retailers and other businesses that have big receivables.Median salary, commercial lender - $79,846

Healthcare technician. radiology technicians, lab assistants, home health aides. These jobs are almost recession-proof. Median salary, pharmacy technician - $32,531

Mechanical Engineering (and all engineering fields). In the U.S. we only graduate 70,000 engineers per year, but we're going to need 100,000 per year, experts say. Median salary - $71,490

Networking/System Administration. People who understand how to keep computer networks running smoothly are often the most important in a company. Think of the last big crash at work. ... median salary - $54,193

Nursing. Particularly in demand are physical therapy and similar "exercise science" careers, because aging Baby Boomers will be looking for ways to remain active long into their later years. Median salary, registered nurse - $53,840

Software Design/Development.
We're becoming more tech-dependent, and companies are always looking for upgrades to their products. Just think what your cell phone was like three years ago, and how much more your new one offers. Median salary - $72,070

Source: All salary data is from The salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time workers with 5-8 years of experience and include bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A respectable sea of talent

Being a writer is often a lonely endeavor. A lot of the copywriting and editing I do is from behind the scenes. Some of my clients are across the country in corporate offices, or are shrouded by email. I don't get to meet any of my peers, hobnob with folks in the business or rub elbows with anyone who shares my love of the craft.

So I was quite interested in particpating in the First Annual Book Fair Blitz put on by Key Business Partners and Local Shops 1. Local authors and business services? I'm there! But what I didn't realize until I got there was, I'm not really used to promoting myself. I can write press releases and blogs seven ways to Sunday; my last direct mail marketing piece increased my client's sales by 40 percent. So I can beat a drum and herd cats with aplomb ... as long as it's not my own drum I'm beating.
I'd much rather toot someone else's horn, and with the group of local talent amassed at this tradeshow, I had plenty of choices.
Like Pam Butler of Life Reflections, expert videographer, who came up with a truly unique concept: tell people's life stories. Everything from video wedding invitations to video life celebrations to video resumes, Pam puts you in the studio and makes you the star. Imagine sending out DVD invitations for your perfect beach wedding! That ought to make the Bridezillas roar! And a video resume? Genius! In today's rising unemployment market, these little three minute gems are sure to slash the envious competition.
Speaking of envy, I had the humbling experience of meeting Gloria Tesch, the world's youngest novel writer, who wrote and published the 810-page "Maradonia and the Seven Bridges" just after her 13th birthday. Yep. She's 14. And when she hefted the book over to me, it was one of those speechless moments I'll remember forever. It seems that everyone I know (myself included) walks around talking about the book they're in the middle of writing, the book they're going to write or the book they wish they'd written. And while we're all talking about it, this remarkable prodigy is busy cranking out the sequel, due in late March.
The specific local author talents in the room are too numerous to mention each in ink here, but they can rest assured that they made giant impressions on me and inspired me to dig in my heels and get it done. I learned a few things today, just being near them.