The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 26 - March 25, 2009


Gifts galore at the Sand Dollar

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

shoppers to browse for gifts, home accents and clothing.

Anna Maria Island has its fair share of traditions. Visitors to the Island will never give up the tradition of watching the glorious sun evaporate into the Gulf’s crystal waters, or being mesmerized by silvery dolphins leaping in the air. They’ve embraced the trolley as one of its newer traditions and turn out in record numbers for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

And when they want to take a break from the beach, they have traditionally wandered into the Sand Dollar in Holmes Beach and have been doing so for 50 years.

Eleven years ago, Andrea Stewart purchased the well-established Sand Dollar Home Accents Gift Shop. Down through the years she has put her own signature on the store with a revolving line of tasteful home accents, gifts and clothing.

And just to shake things up a little more, Sand Dollar now has a guy running the day to day operation of the shop. Ben Stewart, Andrea’s husband, is the new addition to the six other staff members who keep things going.

The diversity of items at the Sand Dollar is amazing. You can purchase all types of candles with the square candles being their most popular, decorative glycerin loaf soap, great jewelry under $10, and little sun dresses that fly out the front door during spring break.

You’ll also find shoes, wonderful beachy dishes, glasses, frames, greeting cards and items for baby. There’s too much to mention, and all of it can be gift wrapped by Sand Dollar’s staff for free.

Inventory is continually changing, sometimes from one day to the next, with seasonal items coming in and out frequently. Regular customers stop by just to take a look and see what’s new. Ben Stewart says they are also planning on updating and improving the appearance of the shop and are committed to a long term investment in the business.

In addition, they will be hosting a customer appreciation open house at the end of season to thank everyone who patronizes the Sand Dollar.

Having Ben Stewart, her mother, Ginny Possehl, and the other long-term employees overseeing the store, has freed up Andrea Stewart to travel around the country and use her artistic eye to choose unique and tasteful items for the shop. She is also working on maintaining and updating The Sand Dollar’s new web-site,, where you can purchase may of the Sand Dollar’s inventory on line.

With four boys between them, the Stewarts maintain a fast-paced life that is centered around their business. Andrea Stewart says she is appreciative of the support of the local Anna Maria residents, her mother and husband in helping her continue to bring new and inspiring items to the island

The Sand Dollar offers a diversity of inventory that reflects the quiet good taste of Anna Maria at affordable prices; a tradition the Stewarts plan on continuing for a long time. "Live inspired" is Andrea Stewart’s motto which accurately reflects the inspired line of products you’ll find at the Sand Dollar.

Sand Dollar

5302 Marina Drive
Holmes Beach
Monday – Saturday: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Sunday: noon to 5 p.m.


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Tax-free yields advantageous for many

Investment Corner

Thanks to the readers for the positive feedback on our recent article regarding the attractive yields currently available on both high-quality and high-yield corporate bonds. While these investments do carry a higher level of risk than government bonds or bank savings instruments, we believe they offer a high enough current yield to compensate for that risk, and with time may prove to be a very profitable investment as we ultimately recover from the current economic slowdown.

One reader suggested I cover another area of current opportunity – tax-free municipal bonds. I have written on this topic previously, but it might be a good time to review this concept and opportunity again.

Tax-free municipal bonds pay interest which is free from federal income tax and also free of state income tax, if the bond is issued by a municipality in the state in which you reside. (This is a moot point for Florida residents because there is no state income tax).

Because of this tax-free status, these bonds historically pay lower levels of interest than a U.S. government bond of the same maturity. When the credit crisis emerged over a year ago, investors began to price municipal bonds with a higher level of risk, and perhaps rightly so, and demanded higher yields to be rewarded for this increased uncertainty.

The risk in a municipal bond is that the issuing municipality runs into financial difficulty and cannot make its interest payments, or perhaps defaults on repayment of the bonds principal value at maturity. With the economy slowing and tax revenue declining, this risk became more real to investors, and municipal bonds had their worst year ever as an asset class in 2008.

Of course, crisis creates opportunity. For investors who can see some light at the end of the tunnel as far as an economic recovery, and for those who don’t think there will be large scale municipal failures, tax-free yields on municipal bonds are now higher than the taxable yields on U.S. government bonds of similar maturity.

In other words, you can earn more yield and earn it tax free. In recent weeks, the 10-year U.S. Treasury Bond’s yield has fluctuated between 2.8 and 3.0 percent. Triple-A rated municipal bonds have been yielding around 3.2 percent. Doesn’t look like a big deal until you realize that for someone in the 28 percent federal tax bracket, the after tax yield on the 10-year treasury bond is about 2.1 percent, while the 3.2 percent yield on the municipal bond would be tax-free.

None of these yields are earth shattering in terms of absolute levels. You can earn more on municipals by accepting slightly riskier, lower rated bonds. Of course, you should understand the risks involved in any security before purchasing. My best advice for the investor not familiar with bond ratings or with sufficient capital to diversify adequately, is to use one of the many tax-free bond mutual funds or exchange-traded funds available today. By using the pooled concept of the funds, you obtain instant diversification across dozens or perhaps hundreds of securities, minimizing the impact of a potential default on your portfolio. This is the same advice I gave a few weeks ago in the article highlighting the opportunities in corporate bonds, which was mentioned earlier.

Good luck and good investing.

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.

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