The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 9 - December 1, 2010


Holy Cow is udderly cool

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

This colorful cow beckons customers into Holy Cow.

Some families go on vacation together just to have fun, others to get to know each other better, but rare is the family that goes on vacation and returns with a business plan.

Rare or not, that’s exactly what happened when Andrea and Ben Stewart took their kids for a two week RV vacation last summer. All those highway miles and togetherness resulted in a lot of creative thinking, fulfilling a dream that Andrea always had – to open a family ice cream shop.

When space became available next to Subway restaurant in Holmes Beach, the Stewarts seized the moment and opened Holy Cow Ice Cream & Other Cool Stuff in November of last year. Their vision was to create a family friendly ice cream shop where generations can get together to satisfy their sweet tooth or teens can hang out. What has evolved is a whole lot more than ice cream, which is where the cool stuff comes in.

Since the Stewarts also own the Sand Dollar Gift Shop on the Island, they’ve stocked Holy Cow with a variety of unique home decorating items, candles and cool stuff for kids and teens. Holy Cow as an exclusive selection of Monkeez Sock Monkeys and Crazerasers Puzzles. For the holidays you’ll find crystal tree ornaments, peppermint candy soap and those last minute hostess gifts you may need on the way to holiday parties.

And let’s not forget the sweet side of Holy Cow. The Stewarts carry homemade soft serve and hard ice cream in a variety of flavors that change on a rotating basis. They make shakes, malts, floats, smoothies, brownie sundaes and the very popular brownie ice cream sandwich. They also brought the famous Coco Joe’s Italian Ice to the Island. For the grown-ups, Holy Cow has flavored coffees, cappuccino and mocha frappuccino, as well as soft drinks, water and hot chocolate.

It’s a great place for pizza and ice cream birthday parties, sports team gatherings and other little people events. Outside picnic tables can be setup, there’s plenty of room inside with tables scattered around the shop and at a large front booth with a kids’ mushroom table, as well as the Holy Cow Tiki Lounge.

In addition, Holy Cow has just added an incredibly appetizing line of loose and boxed gourmet candy. The Christmas candy couldn’t be more adorable, and you’ll need help finishing the cupcake and other truffles, buy six pieces of candy and get one free during the holidays. And if there’s a wedding in your family’s future, check out the catalog of candy wedding favors.

The charm of Holy Cow is that there’s a little something for every generation, exactly what Andrea hoped to achieve.

Obviously being thrown together in a moving vehicle shook up a lot of brain cells in the Stewart family. By the time they arrived back home on Anna Maria, not only did they have a vacation, and a new business, but also a pretty jazzy name for that business… Holy Cow what an adventure.

Holy Cow Ice Cream & Other Cool Stuff

3234 East Bay Drive, Holmes Beach
Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday- Saturday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa, Discover

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Year-end planning may save on taxes

Investment Corner

One of the least exciting things I could choose to write about is year-end tax planning. But a penny saved is a penny earned, and when saving it by reducing taxes, it seems twice as sweet. So, let’s take a couple minutes to review some actions or record keeping tasks you can work on between now and the time you file your tax return

Prepare records – Whether you prepare your own taxes using one of the popular software programs available or use a professional tax preparer, you’ll have a better chance of maximizing your deductions and have less stress in the process if you have your records of income and tax deductible expenses organized in a logical manner.

Rather than provide you with a list here, I suggest you do an Internet search using the key words “checklist for tax preparation.” Believe it or not, there’s a website called, but many sites have handy lists you can print and use to get your started in organizing your records. Obviously, some records will arrive in January, particularly 1099s for bank and investment accounts, but your probably have quite a few records on hand now – it’s just a question of where they are.

One item I noted was lacking on the internet checklists. They did not seem to cover the area of tax credits for purchasing hybrid vehicles, or for making energy efficient improvements to your home very well. Make sure to include those records as well.

Retirement Plan Contributions – Deadlines for establishing and making tax deductible contributions to qualified retirement accounts vary between account types. Some are Dec. 31, and some are as late as you file your 2010 tax return. If you are eligible to contribute, make sure not to let the opportunity pass just because you missed a deadline. Remember, the deduction costs less than $1 for every dollar contributed based on your tax bracket. Example – a $1,000 contribution for someone in the 35 percent tax bracket only costs them $650 in after tax dollars.

Accelerate expenses – This may be more business oriented, but could apply to individuals in some cases. Some tax deductible expenses (almost any business expense and property taxes for homeowners come to mind) may not be due until after the first of the new year. But, by making the payment before Dec. 31, you can move the tax deduction up into this year, reducing your tax liability when filing 2010 tax returns.

One caveat on this topic is that if tax rates rise for 2011, delaying tax deductions may prove to be more effective. At this time, I believe the tax rates on personal income for most, if not all taxpayers will be extended into 2011 and perhaps longer. Whenever Congress is involved we cannot be sure, so you have to go with your best feeling on this issue.

Roth IRA conversions – I touched on this topic in articles earlier this year. Converting traditional IRA funds into a Roth IRA actually increases your tax bill, but a special rule for 2010 conversions allows you to postpone payment of the tax, paying half in 2012 and half in 2013 (when filing 2011 and 2012 tax returns respectively). Why convert? To help reduce future taxes for you or other family members. The decision to do a conversion can be a complicated analysis, but in general broad brush strokes you may benefit from a conversion if you meet the following conditions:

1. You will be able to pay the conversion tax from a source other than IRA funds

2. You will not withdraw the money in the converted IRA for at least 10 years

3. You intend on leaving the Roth IRA to your heirs.

Consult your tax advisor before converting, but don’t delay as conversions must be done by Dec. 31 to take advantage of spreading of the tax liability over two years as described above.

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. Visit


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