Seaside entrepreneurial couples excel at making business personal By Wendy O. Dixon
Many of Seaside’s galleries, restaurants, markets and shops are run by married couples who share their talents, strengths, burdens, long hours and business know-how. Some came together, some met in Seaside and later got married. Using a delicate balance of personal and business, these couples demonstrate that working in harmony is a vital part of what makes Seaside a special town.
Thanks to the vision of Seaside co-founders Robert and Daryl Rose Davis, the town has been recognized as “the most astonishing design achievement of its era, and one might hope, the most influential,” by Time Magazine.
Working with the Davises were town planners and husband-and-wife team Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, architects who conceived the movement in land planning known as New Urbanism, with Seaside as the birthplace of that movement.
As additional couples moved to Seaside, the town began to thrive, and the Davises’ vision flourished. Charlie and Sarah Modica opened Modica Market, Bill and Heavenly Dawson opened Dawson’s Yogurt and Pickle’s Burgers & Shakes, and later three more eateries.
Along with their better half, these couples add to the character of Seaside.
Annette and Pat Trujillo
In the Shops of Ruskin, Annette and Pat Trujillo have owned Newbill Collection By the Sea gallery for 27 years. For them it isn’t simply about carrying merchandise. Everything in the gallery is handmade by a North American artist with a large percentage coming from regional and Southern craftsmen. Newbill carries paintings, jewelry, hand dyed silks, blown glass and more. The Trujillos love working in Seaside and seeing repeat customers visit year after year. They are a part of so many families’ traditions and enjoy helping make lasting memories.
Annette says working with your spouse, especially in Seaside, is wonderful. For the first 20 years, Pat was working in research and development for the U.S. Navy base in Panama City. “Many times he’d leave work and come to the gallery at nights and on weekends,” she says. “He’s been involved since the beginning.”
After he retired, Pat became more involved in the day-to-day operations of the gallery. “There’s nothing that he doesn’t help with — communicating with customers, packing and shipping, communicating with artists, placing orders, he helps with all that.”
Annette’s advice to new couples who consider going into business together in Seaside —respect each other’s differences. “When two people are involved in business, you’re going to have different ideas,” she adds. “Consider and negotiate how it should be done. When we go on buying trips to see new artists over the years, Pat may have strong ideas. And I might, too. We negotiate through that. Having an open mind and understanding that is crucial. My parents were in business together and I observed that. Communicate with each other and work to try to reach the same goal. And in business, that’s pleasing the customer.”
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Laura and Michael Granberry
Owners of The Art of Simple in Seaside, Laura and Michael Granberry moved to Old Seagrove from Atlanta in 2002 and opened their first shop in Grayton Beach. She, as a graphic designer and painter, and Michael, a professional photographer, moved into Ruskin Place in 2004, the mixed-use area of town where they opened a shop on the first floor and lived in their home above. Laura describes living in Ruskin Place as urban meets the beach. “What I loved is that we never ever got in our car,” she says. “My office was upstairs, the shop was downstairs, and I could ride my bike anywhere.” In a sense, she adds, it’s a place that inspires the entrepreneur in all of us.
Michael and Laura have always had a shared love for the beach and small Southern towns. “We were attracted to the idea of a walkable, livable town and in a beautiful setting. We were in awe of so much — the walking paths, the architecture and the people who owned and operated the businesses,” Laura says.
The challenges of working in retail together are many. “Both being freelance and not having to answer to each before was and is always a challenge,” Michael says. “We both agree on almost everything in what we want to accomplish, the problem lies in how differently we approach the task.”
The Granberrys took advice from another successful Seaside couple, Charlie and Sarah Modica. “A very wise woman, Sarah once told Michael and me that to take our business to the next level, we needed to be present at our shop and get to know our customers. Our goal for The Art of Simple is to heed her advice because I consider Modica Market to be a great business.”
Michael and Laura credit Robert and Daryl Davis’ vision for the town planning, high standards for retail and their fostering of the arts in Seaside as being the biggest inspirations. “While Seaside has certainly seen its share of change over the years, Robert and Daryl have infused a level of taste into every detail of Seaside’s design,” Laura says, “from their own brand of Seaside Associated Stores to their commitment to the architecture and how it all connects back to the roots of New Urbanism.
Visit The Art of Simple online
Bob and Linda White
In Seaside in 1986, when there were just a few houses in Seaside and even fewer businesses, Bob and Linda White opened a haven for book lovers called Sundog Books.
They moved to the Destin area as newlyweds in 1983, where they both found jobs in the restaurant industry. Bob had two very good friends in Mississippi that had successful bookstores, and, he remembers, “Linda and I both liked books, so we decided to give it a go.”
Because there was little happening in the area in 1986, they hurried to open the shop for Memorial Day Weekend to be available for whatever tourists were vacationing nearby. Sundog Books opened as what Bob describes as a “little 8’x12’ plywood shack with a tin roof and a few lightbulbs,” and when vacation season closed after Labor Day, so did the shop.
The bookstore was a success, and in 1998, the Whites moved their wares to Central Square, where it stands today.
Visit Sundog Books online
Partners in Life and Buiness Stories continued