VENICE, Fla. (WWSB) - We all know it. Every winter, thousands of Northerners head down to the Suncoast to escape the cold. However, it seems like the snowbirds have gotten here even sooner this year.
“We’ve started to see snowbirds returning as early as October 1st, and I would say business is over 50% of last year’s,” said Daria Nafziger, the owner of Ciao Gelato in Downtown Venice.
“Tis the season has two meanings here on the Suncoast, and this year, the crowds of people have been even more welcomed in Downtown Venice.
“We’re excited about this season being busy because of the town being put back together. It was red tide last year and construction this year, so it put it in people’s minds to just not come down here,” Joseph Mathers, the owner of Kerri’s Jewelry & Gems, explained.
So far this year, business is booming. Plus, some local companies are catering to the snowbird population – making it easier for them to make their way to the Suncoast.
“We ship out about 40-50 cars per season,” Larry Fraczak, the owner of the UPS Stores in Venice, tells us.
The UPS Stores in Venice can transport cars to and from locations across the northeast, so many don’t have to worry about driving.
“The convenience of being able to drop off your car at a UPS Store knowing that it’s going to get to your destination without you having to drive or spend money in gas or food or lodging is a convenience that everyone could enjoy,” Fraczak explained.
Of course, for us locals, the influx of people means parking is now limited and things take a little longer, but it also means more money. With the peak of the snowbird season still months away, businesses here are feeling hopeful.
“Continued success. Continued people discovering Venice. I know some of the locals would like to keep it a secret and a hidden gem, but as a business owner, we are always looking to grow our business, so it’s all about increasing business,” Nafziger said.
A lot of stores and restaurants here are taking advantage of the early season by opening up earlier and staying open later.