Saturday, March 21, 2009

We're finalists!!!!!!!

So a couple of weeks ago, we were reading Creative Tampa Bay's e-newsletter and came across an interesting contest: Present the Perfect Pitch, win a $250,000 ad campaign.

Malcolm Out Loud, a Tampa-based marketing and ad agency, was offering two $250,000 ad campaigns to two companies with the best marketing pitch. The catch? It cost $300 to enter. If we did it by the following Monday. After that, it cost $500 to enter. Everyone who entered would get $3,000 in ads.

We talked it over. "Scam!" "No way!" "Not for real!" "Waste of money!"

... But a $3,000 ad package could help us.

... If we wait and decide to enter later, it costs $200 more.

... and what if we won?!?!!?

We went for it. Yes, it was risky, but we did a little background checking first. We called the media partners they had listed, and confirmed the contest was for real. We called the marketing agency and asked lots of questions.

The application was five questions, about 250 words each, if I recall correctly. They wanted to know what our business was all about, and, as you all know, we LOVE talking about LocalShops1, so we had no trouble with that.

We submitted the entry, paid through PayPal. And then we panicked. What if just wasted $300? In the grand scheme of things, $300 isn't a lot. But it's money we could have used elsewhere, or, better yet, saved.

Yesterday we got a call, telling us we're among the 10 finalists. Which means we get to present LocalShops1, to a panel of judges and an entire audience, at Raymond James stadium next Thursday evening.

No video, no audio. Just us, talking about what we love.

Please wish us luck. And if you have any suggestions, let us know in the next few days. E-mail us through

Thanks. We're all in this together, right?


Friday, March 20, 2009

A new roof, the painless 'Skylighters' way

I’m not ashamed to admit that I am more apt to notice a good deal on a cute pair of shoes, or the fantastic craftsmanship involved in a novel than, say, the merits of roofers.

In fact, I pretty much ignore the roof. Why pay attention to it unless it falls in on your head?
So when the little water stain on my dining room ceiling started to grow, I did the most logical thing: I pretended it just wasn’t there. When the roof started looking like a sway-backed mare, I stopped wearing my eyeglasses.

My husband, however, had a bit of a Doom’s Day scenario for me involving collapsing rooms, death and destruction. So we had to find a roofer. And of course, being the loyal Local Shopper-ette that I am, I insisted on a local independent business. They had to be superb, reasonably priced and prompt. Tall orders to fill.

Enter Skylighters, LLC of Brandon. They were highly recommended from friends that we trust, so when they came out for a free inspection and estimate, I was right at ease. They created an entire roofing proposal for our house, one that we could live with.
And, they squared away the permits in record time. When the crew showed up to put on the actual roof, they arrived en masse. They spoke and acted professionally (even with my husband standing under their feet, supervising).

Also Skylighters swears by the best of materials. That alone impressed me.
They finished in two days, with minimal mess, and it looks like I have a brand-new house! Even the Manatee county inspector, when he came to check it out, said it was one of the best jobs he had ever seen. Three of my neighbors were wowed enough to ask for their own quotes.
Needless to say, they get a big 5 stars from us!

The company also does solar attic fans, which lower your cooling costs by about 50 percent, blinds and shades, and of course, skylights. They are at 2903 Bell Shoals Road, Brandon, FL 33511. Phone (813) 690-7663, toll-free at (877) 965-2500. Or, you can visit them on the web at

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Covering your fanny, finally!

I had the distinct pleasure of residing in the hospital for a few days, this past December. St. Anthony's, to be exact.
I worked there for five years part-time, as a paramedic in the ER. So I know its every nook and cranny. But I can see how being admitted for most people is a scary experience. None of us like to be poked and prodded, woken every couple of hours by the phlebotomist for blood work and having medical people try to explain things in a language you don't understand.
So being medically educated, I have an advantage over the lay person, which, you would assume, would make my hospital stay easier.
Not even close.
I was a big baby the entire time, weeping inconsolably, being short with the nurses and even throwing some things across the room. I hate needles, I hate to be in bed, I hate to be taken care of. But the worst part?
Having my fanny hang out of the gown.
We've put a man on the moon, grown body parts from stem cells, built a Smart Car and put an entire computer into the palms of our hands. All this technology, and people's fannies are still hanging out of hospital gowns. Seriously.
A Tampa Bay woman has come up with an interesting product that may make flashing your hospital roommate a thing of the past: Patient Scrubs.
Patient Scrubs is the brainchild of Nancy Heart of Sarasota County, who came up with idea after her own hospital experiences.
They are a top and shorty bottoms designed like nursing scrubs, make out of comfortable material, with plastic snaps at the shoulders and pant legs for quick medical intervention should it be needed.
Heart is marketing them in the memory of her late husband. The design has gone through a few changes since its inception. And it seems as if she has every angle covered. The snaps are plastic so patients can wear them during radiology procedures like x-rays or MRIs. The pockets are designed with access for wearing cardiac monitors, and to make room for indwelling catheters like dialysis shunts and central intravenous lines. She makes them in various sizes from adult patients all the way down to wee ones. Good for hospitals and long-term home health care patients, but I'm also thinking assisted living facilities, nursing homes, one-day surgery centers and rehab places.
They're affordable at around $38 per set. I might get a set to keep just in case I ever have to stay in the hospital again. My fanny will be covered, finally. Visit Nancy Heart's website for more information at