Shop Talk: Better business: Marco merchants scratch each others’ backs


Hanging together so they don’t hang separately is a message that is helping some Marco Island businesses clustered in a part of town that doesn’t get huge numbers of stroll-by, walk-in customers.

Nancy Carrington, owner of Marco Island Florists, sums it up from her perspective on South Barfield across from Shops of Marco:

“We all try to recommend each other at this end of town. We don’t get as much foot traffic. Part of that is because not all the units are full at Shops of Marco. There’s not a lot of strolling along. But, it’s picking up, people are starting to come back and the holidays are starting, so that’s good for us.”

Joyce McFarland, of Marco Island Clothing in Shops of Marco, agrees.

“It’s like a professional courtesy. We’re all struggling, so if I can send Maria Elena’s Hair Design a customer and she sends me a customer and I can send one over to Nancy (Carrington), it all helps.

“I’ve always recommended locally, on the Island and at this end of the island. That’s just good business and being a good business neighbor.”

Derrick Rodriguez, who owns Subway in Shops of Marco, can’t say enough about the mutual help of merchants in that part of town:

“These people are great. For example, Kevin Donlan, the Publix manager, is an ambassador for us and he has helped me twice, personally. Then there’s Scott at Island Liquors, the people at House of Mozart, really dedicated, hard-working people. Deborah at Curves, Mike Held at Keep n Touch, Scott at Cheers and Vinny at the Marco Nail Spa. Everyone reaches out. I’m so new here and I’ve felt nothing but open arms from these people. They all should get some kind of recognition. We’re like family.”

Vinny Nguyen of Marco Nail Spa: “We’ve been here 12 years but business has been tough the last couple years. But we all help each other. They send a customer here and I send a client there, whatever they need.”

Deborah Spalvins of Curves: “When I had a breast cancer awareness open house, Cheers and Derek from Subway helped me with food and I thought that was showing what they could do be part of the community we’ve formed here. And Maria Elena always sends people to me. That community spirit is very refreshing and shows the heart of so many of the business owners here. Helping each other really works.”

Mike Held of Keep In Touch: “We’re the post office/information center. People come in asking us for recommendations. We speak several languages so we have a lot of foreign tourists and we always recommend local and this neighborhood if possible.”

Marina Elena Pujol, whose hair salon is across from Shops of Marco: “We’re all networking and supporting each other this year to survive.”

If you have a story of business people helping each other, please share it with us and we’ll report it here in our Shop Talk column. e-mails: and

Another Marco business offers deals to active duty military

Last week we told you about some Island businesses that are reaching out to our military men and women. Here’s another example: Robin Shifflett at the Marco Island Princess is offering 25 percent discounts for all active duty military and their entire party on any of the company’s cruises. Info: (239) 394-4364.

Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail

Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Wednesdays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail:

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