The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 16 - February 1, 2012


Hitting the nail on the head

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Becky Garbus took over the business when
her father, Tom Kern, retired

One of the reasons living on Anna Maria Island is such fun is that the ordinary frequently becomes extraordinary. As soon as you walk through the door at Island Lumber in Holmes Beach, you'll know you're in for a little bit of the extraordinary starting with the poodles.

When Tom Kern moved his family from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Anna Maria in 1966, chances are his vision of the future didn't include being partners with his daughter in the lumber business. At that time he worked in construction on the Island for another company, and ultimately in his own business, but he always felt the one thing the Island needed was a lumber supplier.

In 1982, Kern opened Island Lumber to fill a void for Island contractors and homeowners, and working right alongside of him from the beginning was his daughter Becky Garbus. Garbus is proud to say that she listened to everything her father had to say and learned the business from him from the ground up. With Kern retired, Garbus now runs the business along with her staff of 11 including the Lumberettes.

You'll recognize Garbus and the two other Lumberettes by their pink shirts and also by the two standard white poodles hovering around them. But don't be mislead, these women as well as the entire staff know everything there is to know about lumber, especially Garbus the head Lumberette.

Island Lumber likes to say it is one stop shopping for contractors, who make up 80 percent of itsbusiness, as well as homeowners, and when you look at its well-stocked building, you'll understand why. In addition to its stock in trade of high grade lumber in all sizes and shapes, Island Lumber carries power tools, over 200 cabinet knobs and handles, nails, screws, hardware, plumbing and electrical supplies.

You'll also find interior and exterior doors, shutters and wood decking. Garbus says that many contractors will send their customers to Island Lumber to work with her in a relaxed setting to pick out replacement doors for their entire house.

Garbus also points out that years of building relationships with her suppliers gives her the edge in getting orders filled on a timely basis at competitive prices. Island Lumber delivers not only on the Island, but to East Bradenton and as far south as Venice six days a week and has an inventory of pretty much everything a builder needs.

Someone once said to Garbus that Island Lumber should have its own reality show. Well if you log on to Island Lumber's website, you can view an awesome video filmed by The Best Of Business Journalist, John Pace. This could be just the beginning for the Lumberettes and friends.

Save the gas and let the only lumber suppler on Anna Maria fill all of your lumber and hardware needs. Island Lumber, a 100 percent family owned business for 30 years, is where the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Island Lumber

213 54th St., Holmes Beach

Monday through Friday:
7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

8 a.m. to noon

All major credit cards accepted


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Investors stay away

Investment Corner

As a group, individual investors are voting with their parking spot for capital, and they voted for safety during the first 11 months of 2011. In fact, according to data from market research firm Trim Tabs, the investing public at large put eight times more money into checking and savings accounts, which pay little if any interest, than they put into stock and bond mutual funds. Even more astounding, the pace of favoring safety over potential accelerated toward the end of the reporting period.

This leads us to examine the underlying tone behind this decision. Obviously, most investors have grown weary of being frustrated with the below average and very volatile stock returns of the last decade. Apparently, they are also fearful of the potential for bond prices to decline if interest rates rise significantly. In summary, they are staying away from the two most popular asset classes of the last 30 years.

Is this a glass half empty or glass half full story? I suppose both, depending on your outlook. I lean toward the fact that the investing public, as a group, is historically wrong at every major trend turning point. When investors favor safety, it has generally been a better time, in hindsight, to have taken risk. Now, that doesn't mean take undue risk, but owning investments which fluctuate in value when most want the opposite has been a good idea.

I remember in the days after the stock market crash in 1987 being hung up on as I called on investors as a brand new stockbroker (yes, we were still called brokers back then). No one wanted to hear about the great buying opportunity that was upon us, although it turned out to be just that – a wonderful opportunity.

Back in 1982, after a difficult decade for equity investors which started in the early 1970s, Business Week and Newsweek magazines prepared issues declaring the age of equity investing dead and gone. Of course in a few months, August of 1982 to be exact, the greatest bull market ever for equities began and ran for about 18 years with only brief interruptions, the aforementioned 1987 crash being the most significant.

I have no idea what the future holds, but when a group of investors acts in an extreme manner of fear or greed it gets my attention. In this case I think the extreme fear is a sign that in time, and with patience, a bit of risk taking will be rewarded. Again, I'm not referring to excessive risk, just not being excessively scared.

Owning high quality dividend paying stocks can provide yields much higher than treasury bonds or certificates of deposit at the present time, and have proven over time to be great investments that provide a growing income stream and capital appreciation. Of course, with stocks being stocks, patience and discipline are required to get through those maddening moments which come around every few years. And, you don't have to put all your investment capital into equities, even 20 – 40 percent can have a significant impact on your portfolios success.

In a few years, I'll probably be writing about the excessive optimism investors have for equities and how perhaps safety is more important. I'll bet the Dow Jones Industrial Average will probably be a lot higher than it is today. Do you want to get excited at the end of a trend, or the beginning?

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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