From hope and a prayer to a champagne reception, the Red Sunset Merchant Association has come a long way, RSMA members agreed at the recently held annual meeting.
Several years ago, the group “was lucky to pull in three to five people to a meeting against nearly 100 active participants today,” recalled Veronica Flores, Executive Vice President of First National Bank of South Miami, during the induction of new officers in the bank lobby.
“We got a lot done because of our outgoing president and if we can do half of what we did under her leadership, I’ll be happy,” echoed Hans Huseby, incoming president, surrounded by larger-than-life-sized manatees on display for Manatee Fest 2011 while an Association audience sipped sparkling wine and munched spinach pies and hummus.
Huseby, for over 37 years the Footworks co-owner with his wife, Laurie, said Donner was responsible for holding the association together during recent years.
“Things really took off two years ago when Amy assumed the presidency and did lots of work to get initiatives going,” added Ms Flores, crediting the leadership of Amy, outgoing president, for much of the organization’s current success.
“I moved here because I wanted to be able to walk to your businesses and I do,” related South Miami Mayor Phillip Stoddard. “I appreciate you and my family appreciates you, thank you so much for all you do.”
Stoddard encouraged merchants to order uniquely and artistically designed manatees to help the Manatee Fest cause, noting customer traffic will accelerate during manatee tours of downtown areas.
Association accomplishments noted in the past year include the RSMA websites, a 90-second commercial, Facebook Page, Art Night and Manatee Fest sponsorships and expanding a “Safe Streets” Halloween project.
Other municipalities offer merchants similar websites that are generally paid by tax dollars, noted Ivan Maldovich, an incoming board member “In our case we provide it ourselves. We can do what we want: share a page, offer promotions and contests.”