Boca Grande has always been an oasis, a haven from the outside world. It should come as no surprise that Boca Grande is defying the odds when it comes to the business impact felt by COVID-19.
The World Bank conducted a study of businesses around the world and its findings come as no surprise. It’s been an unprecedented year for businesses with nearly every business affected by the pandemic. While one-fourth of companies saw sales falling 50 percent in October-January from pre-pandemic levels, a third said their sales increased or stayed the same.
While an official study has not been conducted for Boca Grande, business owners have offered their insight into the situation.
At the heart of Boca Grande sits Hudson’s Grocery where Rob Rogers has his finger on the pulse of Boca Grande. “It’s been a very busy season here at Hudson’s. There has been no let up at all. I’d say it’s our busiest season ever.”
“A lot of people are coming to Boca Grande from Tampa or Siesta Key,” said Renee Maines at Englewood Bank.
“Many of them are coming because of the red tide,” added Bonney Anderson at Englewood Bank. “Now that school is starting up again, traffic might slow down.”
Kateri Clemons from Tortuga’s Mexican Street cuisine agreed with Anderson. “It’s definitely busier than normal for this time of year. It seems to me that there’s a lot of people from Florida coming to the island to do a staycation. A lot of families with kids may be trying to get away before school starts again.”
According to Business Insider, the hospitality and travel industries are two of the biggest industries impacted by COVID-19, two industries that Boca Grande relies heavily on for its revenue.
Chad Bombenger believes he has the answer. “We never really slowed down for COVID. Being outside is the safest place to be, so all of your outdoor activities are booked up. When you’re outside in the sun, you’re getting your vitamin D and staying healthy.”
The “sunshine vitamin” has been making headlines for its role in possibly preventing and treating COVID-19. Vitamin D3 is critical to a healthy immune system and seems to have a benefit in tamping down the inflammation that can occur with COVID and may have a role in reducing the risk of developing severe illness and a need for hospitalization.
The jury is out as to whether or not this positive business trend will continue in Boca Grande, as local businesses navigate the changes brought about by COVID-19.