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Sand dollars keep tourists coming back to Anna Maria Island shop

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Posted at 5:05 AM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 08:08:28-04

ANNA MARIA, Fla.  — It’s hard to visit a beach getaway like Anna Maria Island without bringing home a memento or two. There is one family-owned business that doesn’t just sell souvenirs, they encourage families to make their own.

From San Diego to Long Island to Kansas City, families from across the map can be found painting sand dollars at the Shiny Fish Emporium seven days a week.

“We hear from families all the time that this was the activity they couldn’t wait to get back to,” said co-owner Rebecca Preston

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“Seeing a lot of kids come back year after year, you get to watch them grow up so there is this great sense that you are part of their experience,” said co-owner Dan Novi.

The husband and wife team of Rebecca and Dan have owned the Pine Avenue shop for almost a decade, custom-designing everything from surfboards, to t-shirts, to magnets.

“I really wanted to be part of the community, and be part of people’s vacation memories and just the fun stuff,” said Preston.

They are constantly adding something new to the shelves, but Preston said it’s the sand dollar that will always be at the heart and soul of their business.

“I was painting sand dollars and selling them before I opened and I thought it would be so much fun just for everybody to get to do their own,” said Preston.

The sand dollars are farm-raised and pre-treated just for painting. The designs children and adults come up with are often original and reflect their time on the island.

“This is a great way to create a little keepsake to take home and hang on the tree and personalize it,” said Stephanie Noonan from San Diego.

Rebecca and Dan are always receiving thank you cards from past visitors. This family business says dollar for dollar, it’s their loyal customer base that kept them afloat during the pandemic.

“We call them shiny fish friends, shiny friends, who are just a wonderful support and got us through,” said Preston.