by Bill Willson
I am Bill Willson, President of Roberts Insurance Group, located on the island of Venice. It is my pleasure to serve as this year’s Vice President of the Venice MainStreet organization. Hopefully you are aware of this volunteer-driven, non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the historic character, beauty, community, and economic vitality of Historic downtown Venice.
My devout love for the area likely stems from a very long personal history of living in Sarasota County. After a brief, six-month stint in my birth place of New York City, my family moved to Sarasota County where I grew up, received my education, married, raised two daughters, and had only two employers during my long career here. I am married to another “almost native” Venice girl who grew up here on the island. To us, this is paradise, and fortunately we didn’t have to wait until after our working years to discover that.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to be “A Local,” a full-timer who bids farewell to many of my surrounding neighbors who are dear friends ending their annual migration South for the Winter about the end of March. I truly miss golfing and socializing with them, and I’m very appreciative of the many benefits they bring to our community. But, let’s be honest, have you ever said, “it’s too busy to go downtown now, let’s wait until after season?”
Are you in luck! Our friendly downtown shops and eateries want you to know “It’s Time for Lovin’ Our Locals.” Not that they don’t love you all year long, but they know they haven’t seen some of us for awhile. We want you to rediscover your downtown. To kick off welcoming you back, participating Venice MainStreet businesses are hosting a Wine Walk.
This first taste of welcome occurs on Thursday, April 21st between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. where participating stores will offer free wine while you shop and restaurants will have dining specials. To enjoy this free event, simply go to either the Burgundy Square Breezeway on Miami Ave. or the kiosk in Centennial Park to receive your wrist band, and a list of participating businesses.
This is the first of several opportunities presented by Venice MainStreet for “Lovin’ Our Locals” events designed to reacquaint you with Your Downtown. Don’t be a stranger. Our beloved snowbirds may have once again flown the coop, but that makes it a great time for our locals to flock downtown. Come enjoy what you love, quaint downtown Venice. You’re bound to find some sizzling hot deals for summer, and even some parking, too.
Visit these participating shops during the Wine Walk: Ciao Gelato, DanaTyler, Dick’s Shoes, Down Island Way Boutique, Eyes on You, La Bella Interiors, Modern Woodmen of America, Shirt Stop, Sirena Island Day Spa, SunBug, Tarpon Bay Trading Co, Tommy’s Fine Men’s Consignment, Venice, In Vogue, Venice Wine & Coffee, Zak’s Clothing Boutique.
Enjoy additional Wine Walk specials when you dine at: Café Venice, Ristorante San Marco, and Trattoria Da Mino.