Tag Archives: local

Giving You More Than The Right To Play Candy Crush

It’s easy to tell you the obvious reasons why you should appreciate the military: They are the reason you have and will continue to have the freedoms you so depend upon. They’re the reason you even have the option to debate gun rights, speak out against politicians, or use your entire day to watch cat videos on YouTube (oh, and watch “If It Fits, I Sits”… then thank a service member). But you should know all of that. And if you don’t or you don’t believe that, then shame on you, but that’s your right.

What I’m getting at (or going to be getting at) here is a different reason the military should be appreciated: the economy. For those of you without ties to a service member, all you may hear are the ramblings on the news about defense spending and budget cuts and blah blah blah… all stuff that probably leads you to think the military is just a big, expensive organization. And while it is expensive, it also offers a great deal of stimulation to local economies.

Think about it: in or around areas where there are one or more military installations (and there are a LOT of these areas), constant influxes of new people are more or less a certainty. Even if someone coming in means someone going out, moving is anything but cheap. Both of these individuals or families will be spending lots of money getting things they need. The incoming family will need to find a new place to live, storage, food, etc. They’ll also need to find a place to get their cars serviced, get their hair cut, buy new clothes… everything they may need now or in the future. Not only this, but military bases employ a large amount of civilian contractors, sometimes equaling the number of active duty personnel. More working people + more paychecks = more money to be spent in the local economy. That’s the kind of math even I can do.

And then, you have examples like us, Military Media – a private business specifically established with military bases or clientele in mind. There are plenty of other businesses of all kinds that fit this bill, and we all succeed ONLY because of this demographic. For example, we started out producing base guides and maps, a business endeavor which would be 100% pointless without the bases (obviously). While we may now work with bases throughout the country, do you really think our home office would be here, employing locals? …Nope. Sure, it might be someplace else, but why have only a few economically booming areas when you can have many? The military makes that possible.

The military is also responsible for building up areas which may otherwise be extremely underpopulated and struggling. Take, for example, the real-life community situation over here. The Panhandle region, Pensacola to Destin, specifically, may be on prime real estate with beautiful beaches and generally great weather. Sure, tourists would come here whether the bases were here or not. But let me ask you this – what happens when the peak season is over and the tourists go home (or somewhere else)? Yep – the remaining residents and businesses sit in the quiet and struggle to make it through without the tourists to visit their businesses and stimulate their economy. Every off-season is a gamble, and many businesses do not make it. I’ve seen it happen plenty of times in other areas.

But, fortunately, that’s not the way it is here, thanks to the military. There are certainly peak and off-seasons still, but thanks to approximately SEVEN military installations (many of them small), there are roughly 66% more people living here full time than there would be otherwise. And an estimated $8.2 billion in annual value to the local economy.

The numbers don’t lie. Just like your ability to say funny things on Twitter followed by the hashtag #firstworldproblems doesn’t lie. So be thankful. Whether you realize it or not, the chain effect the military has on your well being is astounding on so many levels. Reach out and show your appreciation in some way. And if you need a little help, we’re here.

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Not Your Typical Unicorns and Leprechauns Network

There are networks everywhere. But no matter how ubiquitous the term seems, each one seems to take on a form of its own. Some are pretty formal and some are so informal you’re pretty sure they don’t even really exist. It has gotten to the point that if someone mentions a “network”, all you’re sure of is that somewhere along the way a group of people got together and decided they should be called something.

In some respects, the Pro Military Business Network is no different. Some smart people in an office one day decided a bunch of businesses should come together and be called something. It’s tangible and it’s intangible. But, here’s the difference: it’s more than just a pretty name that makes you feel good inside. And, even better, it’s adapting, changing, expanding, and becoming something more useful to everyone involved. Because, let’s be honest here, with technology and business moving as it is today, this thing could have been created last week and already be outdated.

Before I go into what’s happening next, you might want to know what has happened already. The Pro Military Business Network (or PMBN as I like to call it… and I’m sure the acronym-centric military would, too) is a group of businesses that really exist, and that support and love our military community. They are of our same belief that without the military, they wouldn’t be here, and that needs to be recognized and celebrated. They have all come together through our super talented graphics department, sales department and marketing department to form a website. Now, I’ll stop boring you.

Let’s say you’re PCSing or TDYing, or you already live here and you’re looking for a salon, or a car repair shop, or a realtor… or anything. And there’s 52 types of the business you’re looking for. So, what do you do? Right now, you probably roll the dice or explore Yelp forever, and 9 times out of 10 end up at a place you really don’t want to be – trying really hard not to lose your temper with the person you feel you just wasted your money with. Maybe their service was sub-par, maybe they gave you that look you hate, or maybe they had an attitude when you asked if they had a military discount. All of those things are awful, and none of us want to deal with it. This is what the PMBN is here to avoid. If a business is a part of the PMBN, it means they have said they appreciate they military. It also means someone from this very company has personally gone to their location and made sure they’re the type of business we think we can stand behind. And it also means you have the convenience of having one place you can learn about them, view their ad, watch their video, and link to their website.

Now, improvements. For those of you not stationed at a base that has Military Media run their guide, have you ever needed a phone number and had a really annoying time of finding it? Of course you have. I’m really super confident of that. Why? Because I had the wonderful, but necessary, task of looking for the phone numbers for EVERY SINGLE BASE in EVERY SINGLE BRANCH in the free country. It took forever, and it was terrible. But now, once we get our update done, you can go to the PMBN, find your state, click on your base, and boom – numbers. You’re welcome. I think I’m allowed to preemptively say that because it’s going to make you’re life wicked easy. I promise. Go get your hair cut with all the time the PMBN just saved you (salons are under Business and Professional Services).

All kidding aside, it’s an awesome resource – to be a part of, or to use. And, we love to hear from you. So if there’s something you want to see (or not see), or if you have a cool idea – sound off below in the comments and tell us! Seriously. We’re small enough that if we like it, there won’t be a mile and a half of red tape and corporate forms to file before it can happen. If we like it, it’s done. Welcome to the PMBN.

Oh, and here’s a link to one of our awesome Pro Military businesses. Check it out! :

pambonadonnacpa.promilitary.net

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Giving Things Away is the Worst Way to Make Money

Yes, I really had to say that. Since the big bang of couponing took over in the late 2000s, the practice has been adored by deal-hunting consumers and demonized by profit-conscious entrepreneurs. And how could it be any different? People love saving money when they go out shopping, and business owners love to (and need to) make a decent profit. But wait – this paradigm seems conflicting! Why?

Because it is.

And this has been especially true since daily deal sites became so popular, requiring deals to be at least 50% off the normal purchase price. And here’s the kicker – that fraction of your typical profit is slashed even further when you give the host site their cut. This may seem ridiculous to some, but in this economy, customers are looking for it and business owners often turn to it to make their doors swing. So what do you do?

You find a better way. And there is one. The good news? You can afford it (I really mean it), it’s trackable, and (when used properly) can really increase your customer base. The bad news? It will require a little marketing savvy on your part to transform them from a one hit wonder to a loyal, repeat customer. But don’t worry – I’m here with my fancy degrees and cheap laptop (cause and effect?) to help you.

First of all, the better way is www.GIsave.com, a coupon-based website geared specifically towards the military communities in the Southeastern U.S. (though there are plans to expand). More than any other demographic, military families need to find ways to stay on budget while finding new favorite places to frequent as they bounce around from base to base. As a future military spouse, I can tell you there is not one time someone has said “military discount” and my head hasn’t turned. And now, there’s a whole website of people screaming just that – and I don’t have to leave my couch or my sweats to hear it. Beautiful.

I know what you’re thinking: Why would you gear your couponing to just this one demographic? That seems silly. Well, because the military community makes up almost TWO THIRDS of the Emerald Coast economy. Scout’s honor – look it up. Not so silly. And even better, it’s not Groupon or Living Social. We’re not asking you to sell your first born child to afford the price slash. We don’t tell you how much to discount. You just come up with something you’re happy with and we make it visually appealing… not to mention able to be comfortably accessed by military families in their favorite obnoxious headbands and scrunchies (it’s OK for the 90s to live on in your own living room, right?).

Now here’s where my free advice to you lovely business owners comes in. DO NOT… I repeat.. DO NOT succumb to the desire to throw the phrase “10% off with ID” on your GI Save coupon. This is not to say that 10% is a bad discount, or that military families do not appreciate it (because trust me, they really, really do). However, doing this works against you in a couple of ways. First of all, you probably honor that discount with the simple mention of it or the flash of an ID card, don’t you? And again, thank you. But how on earth are you supposed to know how impactful your GI Save program is if you don’t make people tell you? And what about your deal makes you stand out from any of the other businesses?

So, pick a dollar amount, or offer a free something with the purchase of another something. Anything that will get that person’s attention and get them to show you their virtual or printed coupon so you have that wonderful peace of mind that what you did is working. Makes sense, right?

Now continuing the free advice, do something AWESOME when we customers make our way into your business. Make us want to come back over and over again. And, I’ll let you in on a little secret here – we’re easy. Awesome can sometimes mean a sticker. That’s right – that little shiny thing that costs a fraction of a penny can make you stick out. Seriously. So, go find something. It could be a little bonus gift, a different coupon to use on another visit, a referral program punch card that gets your new customer free/discounted stuff when they tell their friends… the list goes on and on. It doesn’t have to cost you much of anything; it just needs to be thoughtful enough that Joe around the corner isn’t doing it. Boom – you win.

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Ever Get Directed to the Hardware Store When You Wanted an Ice Cream Parlor?

Assuming you’ve moved to a new region or gone on vacation, you’ve probably experienced what I like to call “the head tilt” (you probably just tilted your head there, didn’t you?). This is when you ask a question that seems perfectly simple, but the person you are asking tilts their head and looks confused, as if you’ve just randomly decided to start speaking Russian.

Far more sly than accents that are obvious and well-known, you are a victim of your lingo. If you’ve bounced around a lot, you’re used to this. But if not, there are a few things you should know that are giving you away as an “outsider” and confusing the new people you’re talking to.

You may choose to do what you wish with this information. I, for one, might be a little obnoxious and stuck in my ways, and continue to use my messed up New England vocabulary no matter where I live. What can I say, it’s built in and I love it. But, I know as soon as I say something that I might have to explain it. Or, you can choose to rule it out altogether to be nice and allow people to better understand you. It’s your call. But it might be fun to bring a little culture to wherever you go.

Kicking off this series is your New England translation guide. The first word is what a New Englander would say, the second is what the rest of the English-speaking world would understand. We’ll do a different region next time. Between my lovely co-workers and myself, we’ve lived in just about every part of the country – so I promise, it’ll be accurate (even though the call to mess with you guys is kind of tempting).

Note: For those of you using this to find out what other people have been saying, if any word below ends in “er”, replace the sound with “ah” to pronounce it correctly.

  • Bubbler → Drinking Fountain

I’ll never forget the horror on my eighth grade, Texas teacher’s face when I asked where the bubbler was.

  • Wicked → Very

Pretty commonly known, but this wouldn’t be complete without it.

  • Bureau → Dresser

Try shopping for furniture when you move… it’s an experience

  • Cabinet → Milkshake

Seriously, the housewares shopping thing. Nightmare

  • Downcellar → Basement

More of a directional than a place. If you left something in the cellar (sella), you left it “downsella” (spelling is accounting for the accent). But, you wouldn’t say “My house has a downsella”. That’s just wrong.

  • Grinder → Sandwich/Sub

Also more commonly known, but necessary.

  • I’m all set” → I’m good / I’m fine

This is accepted in some regions, but will get you a lot of weird looks in others.

  • Jimmies → Sprinkles

You gotta get the rainbow jimmies on your ice cream cone.

  • No suh!” → No Way

I really thought this would be self-explanatory when I first started moving around… but it wasn’t

  • Packy → Liquor Store

Another one that is used in a couple of places, but will get confused looks in most others.

  • Regular Coffee → With normal amounts of cream and sugar

If you were hoping this would get you coffee with the perfect amounts of cream and sugar, you’re out of luck. You actually have to say “coffee with cream and sugar”. Black coffee is regular coffee. And if you want your coffee “extra extra”, you actually have to say “with extra cream and extra sugar”. I know… it’s the worst. I’m still trying to train my local Florida coffee shops on the right (New England) ways of ordering.

  • Side by each” → Side by side

Yep, we just like being different

  • Stuffie → A Stuffed Clam

Instead of a beyond delicious appetizer, you will be given a stuffed animal in other parts of the country. Or more likely, you will be given a look telling you you’re crazy if you ask for this in a restaurant, like I imagine you would be.

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Sleep is for Suckers. But so is Powdered Creamer.

Vacations, day trips and long weekends are some of the greatest treats in the world. Way more decadent and exciting than a piece of fudge (I’m not knocking fudge.. I could write a whole story on it. I’m just saying). Going out and having all sorts of adventures that develop into great stories to tell is one of my favorite things to do in life. But, on the contrary, the call to relax while on vacation is loud and clear. So what do I do?

Oh, that’s right – coffee. I am absolutely addicted to coffee.

But here’s the problem on vacation: I don’t know where I am. And while I genuinely enjoy finding local coffee shops with their unique blends and homey touches that combine to make everything just phenomenal, I enjoy doing this AFTER I’ve had my iced coffee I know I can rely on. Because otherwise, who has the energy for that? So, you can imagine my panic when I travel that I’m not going to be able to find a satisfactory cup of coffee to hold me over until I find a fantastic cup of coffee. Just the thought of those places that don’t have iced coffee but think they can trick me by putting hot coffee over ice (worst thing ever) makes me want to stay home and set up shop in the Dunkin drive thru.

While you may find it easy to Google the nearest Dunkin Donuts (no offense to them… I’m a die hard fan), you should live by my rule while you’re on vacation: you can’t go anywhere you can go at home. So, without further adieu, here are a few of the best places to get a coffee when you’re traveling in Florida. Warning: caffeine jitters may occur.

Fort Walton Beach:

Region: North, Panhandle

  • Maas Coffee: This gem in the heart of downtown Fort Walton Beach has a great atmosphere, free WiFi, and truly delicious coffee. Boasting hand-roasted Arabica beans from more than twelve countries, you can really taste the quality and care in your cup. They specialize in everything from regular to snazzy, and even perfected the iced coffee. The only thing that might top the coffee is the gorgeous view of the bay you can get from the relaxation of their outdoor patio. Because as we all know, what good is coffee without something pretty to look at?

Miami:

Region: South, East Coast

  • Eternity Coffee Roasters: If you love social responsibility and great coffee, this is the place to be. Eternity Coffee has some of the highest quality coffee you can find anywhere, and the taste leaves no doubt! The coffee is roasted in house and customers absolutely rave about the divine scent that fills the shop as a result. Get your coffee to go, or decide to enjoy the atmosphere. Eternity is warm, inviting and comfortable – great for some relaxation, studying or meeting business associates. And for those of you wanting to feel a little fancy (but just a little), try ordering a latte and see what cool design you get in the foam.

Tampa Bay:

Region: Central, West Coast

  • Buddy’s Brew House: With an ambiance as friendly and inviting as its name, it comes as no surprise to patrons that this awesome coffee shop started as a hobby of owner, Dave Ward. With passion comes excellence, and this coffee is truly amazing. They even have a cool refill program that allows you to buy a mason jar for $4 (be honest, you would buy a mason jar even if it didn’t have perks attached to it) and get discounted refills every time you bring it in. We love it!

Orlando:

Region: Central, East Coast (ish)

  • Drunken Monkey Coffee: Ok, clearly we’re a little transparent on this one… we explored it for the name. But, come on, they nailed the whole marketing thing. And they didn’t disappoint. This coffee shop has a distinct feel that is welcoming, free-spirited and enjoyable. The coffee is incredible, top shelf and roasted in-house. And if that wasn’t enough, their food rivals in taste and quality. A great spot for everything from chatting with friends to taking advantage of their free stand up comedy night on Fridays.

Jacksonville:

Region: North, East Coast

  • The Coffee Grinder: If a regular old coffee shop bores you no matter how great the coffee is, this place is for you. Not one to be considered boring, The Coffee Grinder jams to live music from local DJ’s five days a week. And if you need some visual appeal to go with the treat your ears get, they have some really cool, intriguing art hanging up. Not that we’re professional art procurers, but we don’t seem to be alone in this thought. Of course, not to be outdone, the coffee is delicious and satisfying. With a coffee of the day keeping things interesting, you’ll never get sick of this place.

What’s your favorite? Leave us your comments, questions or input below. We’d love to hear it!

 

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So Where’s the Best Lobstah and Chowda Around Here?

We all love going someplace awesome enough that we’re considered a tourist… but we HATE being treated like tourists. It’s a seemingly unavoidable catch 22. Or is it? Get out your notebooks, folks (or just press print), I’m here to rescue you from flagging yourself as the dreaded ‘T-word’. Well, at least when you’re at a Gulf Coast seafood joint, anyway.

Just like you don’t go to Hawaii to snowboard, you don’t come to the Gulf Coast for clam chowda and fresh lobstah – you’re about 1500 miles too far south for that. Different regions have different things they’re known for. And down here, we have some ridiculously amazing seafood. It just might not be the kind you’re expecting. So, here it is – no funny business, no hidden agenda – just a comprehensive guide to our local seafood. Your only job is to go try some, and tell me how astonishingly accurately I described it for you. I dare you.

Popular Preparations:

Fish can be prepared in several different ways. Some fish are great any way, some are better off being single-minded. Here are the most common ones you’ll find on a Gulf Coast sea food menu:

  • Blackened: I promise, the restaurant is not trying to dupe you into buying overcooked fish. This puts a spicy spin on your dish and is my personal favorite. Chefs will create their own blend, typically of butter and Cajun spices, and flavor the fish with it while it cooks to perfection in a cast iron skillet.
  • Grilled: Depending on the restaurant you are at, the method used to grill can create a really diverse number of flavors. If you see the words ‘cedar plank grilled’, try it. It’s phenomenal and just the right amount of smoky. Grilling fish properly locks in juices and will make your mouth water.
  • Broiled: For the health conscious. Broiled is certainly not the most flavorful or interesting way to prepare a fish, but it does not add more fat or sodium, making it ideal for those on a strict diet. But let’s be fair, if you’re on vacation here, live a little!
  • Fried: Quite the contrary of broiled, this is less healthy but absolutely delectable. Each restaurant has their own recipe for breading and/or battering, meaning you’ll get a different flavor everywhere you go. Fried is the way to go for a more casual experience, if you’re getting fish n chips, or if you’re trying a famous po’ boy.

Deliciousness:

  • Black Grouper: A type of reef fish, it’s great for the seafood beginner and the nutrition lover. It has a mild flavor, can be prepared a wide variety of ways, and doesn’t dry out easily. It has a firm, meaty texture, but it’s also flaky.
    • AKA: Grouper
  • Red Snapper: Also a reef fish and plentiful to the Panhandle, it is similar to Black Grouper. This fish has a mild flavor, doesn’t dry out easily, and is a bit sweet. It has a firm, meaty texture, but it’s also flaky.
    • AKA: Pink Snapper, Vermillion Snapper, B-Line Snapper, Jobfish
  • Mahi Mahi: Not to be confused with the porpoises we all know and love, this fish is tasty with a firm texture. Not very fishy tasting, it is best prepared grilled or blackened.
    • AKA: Dolphin Fish, Dorado
  • Amberjack: A mild game fish, it has a fishier taste than reef fish, though it is not overwhelming. It has firm, flaky texture and is prepared in a variety of ways.
    • AKA: Yellowtail Kingfish, Yellowtail, California Yellowtail, Buri, Kahala ‘opio, Racing Tuna
  • Cobia: With a mild flavor, you will find cobia is an extremely tasty fish that is typically served thick like a steak. It is prepared in many different ways and does not taste fishy. Regarded as one of the absolute favorites by locals.
    • AKA: Lemon Fish, Ling, Crabeater
  • Kingfish & Mackerel: Not for beginners, these fish are tender and flavorful, but quite oily. These are best in dips, but can also be tasty if they are fresh (aka caught that day). In this case, they are typically cut thick like a steak and are best prepared grilled or blackened.
    • AKA: King Mackerel
  • Swordfish: With a moderate flavor that is stronger than most listed above, this fish is light and delicious. Typically served in thicker cuts and prepared a variety of ways.
  • Wahoo: With moderate flavor, this fish is very lean and firm. It is cut into thicker steak filets and is commonly used as the meat in some of the most delicious fish tacos.
    • AKA: Robalo
  • Yellowfin Tuna: The most prized and delicious of tunas, this fish is extremely delicious, mildly fishy, and high in protein. It can be eaten raw, like in sushi, or cooked a variety of ways as a larger steak filet.
    • AKA: Ahi
  • Yellowtail Snapper: This mild fish is delicious and slightly tangy. It has a fluffy texture when pan seared or fried properly. Not an adventurous fish, but not for beginners, either.
    • AKA: Flag, Tail, Rabirubi
  • Flounder: Renowned as one of the top three favorites in the Gulf Coast, this fish is delectable. It has a mild flavor, fine texture and is great for beginners and seasoned sea food lovers. This is great prepared any way, and can really handle a hearty sauce like a bearnaise.
    • AKA: Door Mat, Sand Dab, English Sole, Fluke, Plaice
  • Triggerfish: This guy is extremely flavorful with a distinctive taste. It has a mostly shellfish diet, so it has a hint of that flavor. It is light and flaky, and great prepared blackened, fried or grilled.
    • AKA: Fudpucker
  • Redfish: This fish has a moderate flavor and is not oily. It is a firmer fish and is best grilled, but can also be enjoyed blackened.
    • AKA: Reds, Red Drum, Channel Bass

You’re now armed with the names of some of Florida’s most adored seafood – sure to make you blend right in with the locals. Now go out there, have a little adventure, and make your taste buds love you way more than they do right now.

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