‘It’s about time we did give the award to a woman’: Carrington honored with Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Nancy Carrington honored with Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Lance Shearer

Nancy Carrington sells a lot of flowers. She also gives a lot away. The owner of Marco Island Florist, Carrington is known as an “easy touch,” someone who can confidently be counted on to help with just about any worthy cause on the island.

Over the years, her floral arrangements have graced the tables at countless charitable and civic events.

This was true at the Chamber of Commerce Christmas gala last week, when Carrington donated the centerpieces, and encouraged people at each table to take them home. It was also a little ironic, and indicative of the giving spirit that caused her to be honored at the gala as the winner of the chamber’s Lifetime Achievement award.

Nancy Carrington, owner of Marco Island Florist, surrounded by blooms. Carrington was honored as the first female to win the Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award. Lance Shearer/Special to the Naples Daily News

Carrington is the first female recipient of the award, which has been given previously to 10 Marco Island stalwarts. Although they were all guys, the roster of names who have received the honor demonstrates what an honor it is to be listed along with them. Bill Morris, Tom Wagor, Dick Shanahan, Tarik Ayasun, Bill Young, Craig Woodward, Jack Patterson, Monte Lazarus, Herb Savage, and Dick Shanahan are names synonymous with giving and caring on Marco Island, and Nancy Carrington is a worthy addition to their ranks.

She professed herself a little perplexed by being honored.

“I really didn’t do anything so special,” said Carrington. “We’ve just helped out when people asked us to.”

People have asked a lot, and Nancy is likely to come through, said Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dianna Dohm.

“There’s never any organization that needs something, that she doesn’t say yes,” said Dohm. “Without a doubt, she’s made Marco Island a better place to live. I’m very excited we are able to honor a woman of her caliber. And it’s about time we did give the award to a woman.”

Carrington is very busy, particularly at this time of year, with her business, located on South Barfield Drive just across from the Shops of Marco. She tends to go all out for all holidays, and Christmas is the big one.

At Christmas, Marco Island Florist is transformed into a winter wonderland. Nancy Carrington was honored as the first female to win the Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award. Lance Shearer/Special to the Naples Daily News

Currently, the store has been transformed into a veritable winter wonderland, with thousands of Christmas items of all descriptions. While the sign out front says Marco Island Florist, the sales floor is that of a gift shop, selling home accessories and unique pieces. It is perhaps the ideal spot to find a last-minute Christmas gift, something that doesn’t show up in mass market stores, fits into the islandy vibe of Marco, won’t be something they already have and doesn’t need to fit a certain size.

From a Christmas trees constructed of upside down Santa legs, complete with boots, to a miniature Winnebago with a tiny tree lashed on top, the store is a treasure trove of Christmas. Come the New Year, it will be a treasure trove of Valentine’s Day, and then of Easter.

Throughout the year, most of the display space is given over to a wildly diverse array of home décor, gift items, greeting cards, candles, chocolates, silk flowers and plants, beadwork parrots, baskets, scents, and even bottles of wine. Fresh flowers are visible only in one cooler ­– but that leads into a much larger cold storage room behind.

Flowers are still the heart of the business, said Carrington, accounting for approximately 70 percent of the business’ sales.

Nancy Carrington was honored as the first female to win the Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award. Lance Shearer/Special to the Naples Daily News

“All the flowers go out the back door,” she said. “It’s phone calls, parties, deliveries, and weddings. We sell more flowers than we do anything. People have anniversaries every year, and they don’t always need a knickknack for their home.” At the same time, diversification is important, even vital, to keeping a business on the island healthy.

“You have to change with the times. When I first started, there was no internet. Everything was florist to florist. Now, you compete with florists nationally,” she said.

In addition to the chamber, Carrinton has donated flowers to organizations including the American Cancer Society, the Marco Island Center for the Arts, veterans’ organizations, and all the island schools.

Carrington served as chamber president in 2013, and has served on their board of directors since “around 2000 – I’m not exactly sure,” she said. Nancy Carrington is married to Joe, who is a retired homebuilder. The two have a daughter, Elizabeth, who was Homecoming Queen at Lely High School and is now a junior at the University of Florida.

Marco Island Florist

178 S. Barfield Drive