The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 1 - September 24, 2008

BUSINESS

Roll out with Island Scooter Store

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/DOUG COPELAND

Picture this, it’s a dazzling day on Anna Maria Island. A couple of puffy clouds are balanced on the powder blue sky, the pale water shimmers as it embraces the sandy beach and the breeze gently brushes past your cheeks.

Now picture that into this imagine of perfection you’re navigating a bright red scooter, slowing down to watch the dolphins, or stopping for a quick dip in the Gulf of Mexico or lunch at an outdoor café. It doesn’t get much better.

You may think my prose is a little purple to describe scooters, but I doubt Brian and Millie Quartermain would think so. The Quartermains, originally from Great Britain, relocated to Anna Maria in 1995 with their son after living on Spain’s Costa del Sol.

Brian’s business experience ranged from owning a motorcycle shop to being a boat dealer and owning marinas. In fact, when they moved to Anna Maria, the first business they purchased was the Holmes Beach Marina.

Following his "I will never retire" philosophy, Brian was looking for another business to keep him and Millie involved and busy. They combined his love of motorcycles and their business experience into an enterprise they thought would be both fun and interesting.

The Island Scooter Store was born in March of this year offering scooter, bicycle and golf cart rentals. The scooters in their rental fleet are no more than a year old and are offered with some basic training and a helmet.

They have a full range of rates starting at $45 for a double scooter and $35 for a single scooter for two hours. Practically any time frame and scooter size can be accommodated to fit resident and visitor needs.

In addition, the Quartermains provide a full service sales program, and are the authorized and approved dealer for new Vento, Schwinn and Adly scooters, as well as providing service for scooters. New scooters start at $1,500, and if you purchase a new scooter from the Island Scooter Store, they will arrange for the state registration and plate.

The scooters for sale and rent at the Island Scooter Store are either two- or four-stroke engines that get between 80 and 100 miles per gallon of gas. The Quartermains remind everyone that scooters with a 50cc engine size or less do not need a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license. Also, owners are not required to carry insurance or wear a helmet, but naturally, both insurance and helmets are recommended. When asked about training for renters of his scooters, Brian Quiartermain replied "I won’t let them loose until they’ve check out."

Just to make things even more fun, the Island Scooter Store carries an inventory of seat covers to protect against Florida’s sun. The covers are designed and made by Millie in patterns that include, paw prints, leopard print, zebra strips and dog bones in all kinds of colors.

The Island Scooter Store’s motto is, “If you’re looking for adventure, style and fun, ride a scooter.” So, if you want to feel the soft Island breeze on your face, the salt on your skin and the alluring freedom you haven’t felt since you were a kid, ride a scooter. In fact, get a purple one to go along with my prose.

Island Scooter Store

Holmes Beach Business Center
5347 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach
941-778-2255
Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Sunday
Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Investment Corner

Chicken Little and the facts of life

In the original story of Chicken Little, an acorn to the noggin convinces the heroine that the sky is falling. On her way to see the king to let him know the bad news, she convinces several other characters that the peril of the sky falling is real, leading them to get waylaid by a fox and almost eaten. The moral is that the sky doesn’t fall and Chicken Little decides that an umbrella to shield her from falling acorns while walking in the forest will help reduce her worry.

Disney revived the story a few years ago, and it is now a popular cartoon and movie series with a modern Chicken Little learning lessons of realism and courage. After experiencing the rough stock market of the last year and the constant barrage of bad news recently rising to a crescendo, investors today are likely feeling like Chicken Little and wondering if, in fact, their sky is falling.

After reassuring our clients and others that I speak with that "this too shall pass," my own words are starting to sound hollow, and I have even caught myself starting to wonder if things will ever be good again. But, after a couple minutes of self-inflicted ridicule for such an outlook, I come back to reality.

Economic shocks and financial greed are a fact of life and will probably never go away. Some sort of greed-driven challenge has been presented to our economy and impacted investors at least once a decade in the memory of the longest living person reading this article. At the moment, each of these created the same feelings we are experiencing today. Doubt about the future of our economy, doubt about investment returns (or more importantly, return of investment principal), perhaps even doubt about whether we can survive the latest experience.

Yet, last time I checked, the sky was still where it was supposed to be. I heard birds singing this morning, and it is a beautiful day in Anna Maria. I recently reminded myself of how many of these crises I have already survived a 21 year career in the investment business (it’s five for those who are interested – not counting the current one because it’s not over yet). One about every four years or so, and each one seemed like a great time to find a new career. But, we love to help people succeed with their investments, and I think we are reasonably good at it, so Breiter Capital is now in its 17th year of advising clients with no intention of doing anything different no matter how the uncomfortable times that lie in our future unfold.

Granted, this recent unwinding of the huge credit bubble, which can be attributed to the greed of banks, brokerage firms, and hedge funds, is serious. So serious that the U.S. government has announced a takeover of the country’s largest insurance holding company, American International Group. I think this is a great move to prevent future problems and hopefully lead to some limitations and regulations on the use of financial leverage which created the recent bubble. By the way, our government will earn about 11 percent interest on the money loaned to bail out AIG, so this could end up being a profitable transaction for taxpayers.

Chicken Little gained courage by using an umbrella to keep her from thinking the sky is falling. The best investor’s umbrella is a diversified investment plan appropriate for your personal situation. By having money in different asset classes, you can smooth out the bumps in the road resulting from the inevitable challenges in our future, and still earn higher returns than just putting your investment capital in low-yielding, fixed-income investments that don’t even keep up with inflation.

In closing, I know some of you are saying, "But it’s different this time". I don’t disagree. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was different, the first oil embargo of the 1970s was different, the stock market crash in 1987 was different, the Russian debt crisis of 1998 was different, the technology stock /dot com bubble of 2000 was different, and this leveraged credit bubble burst we are living through now is different. Wait, let me check – yep, the sky is still where it is supposed to be, and I suspect it will be there tomorrow.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing.


AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper