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How did you end up in the Tampa Bay region?

Posted By Ester Venouziou, Monday, September 3, 2012

Some are newbies who decided -- or were forced -- to start new lives here, others are Florida natives, going back two or three generations. What they all have in common is that they now call Tampa Bay home, and love being here!

Meet some of our business members, and find out what brought them here!

Karen Wiltshire Rigsby, Classy Gal: I retired from Alberta Government Child Protection and moved to Nova Scotia to live the easy life. After being unexpectedly widowed, I met and fell and love with a wonderful man from Florida - so moved here in 2009 to marry him and "live the good life" which is what I am doing now. I am still "retired" as they say but love the people I have met while pedaling my Miche products.

Billie Jo Grassinger Bell, Tampa Bay Natural Health:
I moved to Spring Hill in 1979 from Pittsburgh, Pa. My father had hip replacement surgery and was afraid of falling in the snow. I was insistent that I was not moving, they couldn't make me, but apparently - they could!

Lesa Bee, Tropical Treats:
  My father got transferred from NY to Illinois because of his job. Not knowing ANYONE or anything about where we had moved to, this was not the best experience at first.
I remember sitting at the kitchen table when my father told me we had to move. Sat there slouched arms crossed (was 20) at the time and to busy spending my money on clothes and going out. "Nope I ain't going!" so my father continues..ok then you have to find a place to live, your nearest relative is about 3 hours away, etc etc etc. I had to go. But everything happens for a reason! When I met my now husband who was born and raised in Illinois and we decided to move I was not going to move to a place where i did not know anyone or anything AGAIN so we moved to a place where I had a few family members: Tampa

Cheryl Kirkland, Sunset Appliances: Dave moved here in 1974 when his dad, Kirk, retired from the Air Force. I first moved to Clearwater in 1981 to escape the cold of Indianapolis. We met shortly after that.

Susan Jacobs Leonidas, Your Travel and Cruise Concierge: I moved here November 2003 after my husband and I got married. Left a 15-year Information Technology career with one of the major financial services companies in Manhattan and have not looked back. We still have family and friends who are still in the NY/NJ/CT area, and we get back at least once a year to see them. I miss everything about NYC except the winter weather!

Robin King, Three Birds Tavern: We retired from our prior life/career in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2008, but had to wait until youngest of 5 graduated from high school in June of 2009. Started our new career when we bought what is now Three Birds Tavern June 22 of 2009 and have never looked back.

Lisa Burns, Backyard Getaway: My parents moved to Bradenton in 1976 from Buffalo NY. I insisted I was not moving with them, but at 11 yrs old I didn't have many other options. ;) It didn't take very long before I loved it here & now I can't imagine living anywhere else. Side note met my hubby here & he is also from upstate NY. Found out later that his best friend's dad worked with my father in NY. Small world.

Tim Horton, Tampa Bay Discount Mattress: After a few years of vagabond "radio" business, early in my career, I bounced "back" to Tampa. This is the wife's hometown and is hard to get away from. In and out since. 25+years! I'm a serial entrepreneur and started up Tampa Bay Discount Mattress in Tampa & Palm Harbor in 2011.

Martha Trangas Ross, Mobile Day Spa Creations: I was born and raised in St. Petersburg, with 3rd generation still in grade school. I've left 2 times, but I always seem to come back. Retired from Honeywell after 27 years, and have been an entrepreneur for the past 4 years. Grandparents from Greece and my grandkids call me YaYa!

Barbara Langford, Go Big Apps: Native....3rd generation. My grandmother moved here when she was 2 from Georgia in1890. They settled around Parish in manatee county. Her poppa was a Methodist circuit preacher and rode horseback throughout central Florida (Sebring, Wachala, Arcadia, to name a few) preachin' the gospel.
JoAnna Gifford, Shea Butter Skincare: I've lived in Tampa most of my life (I would have been born here but my dad was in the Navy so I was born at a Naval Base in VA). I went to Hillsborough High School, a beautiful old historic building and actually had the same English teacher that taught my father. I started experimenting with soap making about 18 years ago and have loved being a "mad scientist" ever since. Just for the record: I've had close calls but have never actually blown up my kitchen.

Emmanuel Roux, Gateau OChocolat: 1986 Ran out out of gas in Tampa. Started a pasta company, opened two restaurants, sold them, started baking GateauOchocolat

How did you end up in the Tampa Bay region? We'd love to hear your stories! Please add them in the comments section below, and feel free to add a link to your business, if you have one.

Ester Venouziou is founder of, Tampa Bay's most active advocate for locally owned and operated businesses. Faces of Local is a free feature that spotlights our members.  Membership is open to shoppers, businesses, artists and non-profits.

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