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John's Pass businesses bouncing back after worst year ever | Business

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John's Pass businesses bouncing back after worst year ever
Business
John's Pass businesses bouncing back after worst year ever

Madeira Beach, Florida - The bridge construction has been just one thorn in the sides of business owners in John's Pass Village who say this year has been dismal.

"We have businesses right now holding on by a thread," said Robin Grabowski of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce.

From the unprecedented cold snap to the constant bridge construction to the catastrophic oil spill, beach businesses took a hard hit in 2010.

"This year has been an exceptional year and not for the good," said Larry Butterfield, owner of Kilwin's Ice Cream and Fudge Shoppe at John's Pass Village.  He says his revenue is down 40 percent.

It is the same story for the Friendly Fisherman Seafood Restaurant.  Owner Kathleen McDole says the economic fallout from the BP oil spill was scary.

"It was just living in terror," said McDole.

The perception of oil on our beaches took a toll on tourism.  "The business we lost was horrendous all through the summer and we we're still feeling it," said McDole.

As of this weekend, business owners are feeling a bit relieved because the brand new bridge officially opened.

There is no more clunky construction that keeps shoppers away.  That is a boost for the mom-and-pop shops that make up most of the village because they bank on traveling tourists.

"We really need the community to rally around local business," said Grabowski.

That means rallying residents to eat local and shop local.  On the boardwalk, you can find one-of-a-kind gifts made by Bay area families like Lori's Soap and Sponge Market, where you can buy bath sponges fished right from the Gulf of Mexico.

Now that BP claim money is flowing into John's Pass, along with the traffic on the new bridge, the hope for the future is, "Onward and upward," said McDole.

Butterfield echoed the sentiment when he said, "Hopefully, people will start spending some money and we'll sell out of fudge here."

The 25th Annual Treasure Island Lighted Boat Parade that runs through John's Pass Village around 8:00 p.m. Saturday, December 11.

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