Brandon small business owners keep it all in the family
Carole Raimondi didn't let the recession stop her from providing jobs for dozens of people including her own three children. Carole and her husband, Steven, own Hobby Town USA stores in Carrollwood and Brandon. They decided to branch out by opening two recession-proof businesses: a Great Clips hair salon in Valrico and an Orange Leaf frozen yogurt shop at Regency Square. "It's a way of teaching our kids there are opportunities out there other than getting a job and that's it," Carole Raimondi said. "We want to teach them how to open businesses and how to be responsible workers." Their son, Thomas, 31, and daughter, Erica, 15, work at Hobby Town USA, while Erin, 17, works at Orange Leaf.Erica Raimondi, 15, said she is glad her parents are small business owners, especially since the Great Recession. "Having parents as business owners is pretty cool," Erica said. "You never have to worry about being jobless or too young to work. It's fun getting to work with other family members and you never have to feel shy or uncomfortable telling your boss if there is ever a problem." Erin Raimondi said her parents have inspired her to one day open her own business. "Having parents who are entrepreneurs has given us the skills and knowledge to possibly open our own businesses in the future," Erin said. "Also, we are pretty much guaranteed a job and we get to work with family and friends on a daily basis." Carole Raimondi said the couple has hired about 14 people at the Orange Leaf, which they opened April 12 in the building just outside the AMC The Regency 20, which previously housed a Carvel and, later, a coffee shop. Since one of their Hobby Town USA stores is at Regency Square, Raimondi knew about the vacancy. She also found out the landlords were hoping for a frozen yogurt store. "We tried yogurt at different franchises in the area and went to Sarasota to try Orange Leaf," she said. "The quality of yogurt is far above. They make the yogurt in-house as opposed to trucking it in. It makes a big difference." She said Orange Leaf offers about 14 different flavors that are changed out every few weeks. Some of the flavors include white chocolate, strawberry, peanut butter, brownie batter, wedding cake and butter pecan. Raimondi's personal favorite is the pineapple. Some of the offerings are dairy-free, while others have no sugar added. People serve themselves, add toppings and then weigh their treats. The cost is 49 cents an ounce. "It's up to the person how much they spend - it's pretty reasonable," she said. She said the location next to the movie theater is one in a million. "The movie theater is one of the busiest AMCs in the country," she said. "There is so much foot traffic over here." Lcone@tampatrib.com (813) 731-2008
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