The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 19 - January 28, 2009


Jeweler sparkles on Bridge Street

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/LOUISE BOLGER Kevin Shonkwiler, Kassy Quinn and
Brad Smith provide a full range of services.

There’s a new club on Anna Maria. To join you don’t have to pay thousands of dollars in initiation fees, and you don’t have to show up for meetings or learn a secret handshake. All you have to do is own an Anna Maria Island Destination Bracelet, and Bridge Street Jewelers is the only place to get it.

Brad Smith, the owner of Bridge Street Jewelers, discovered Anna Maria three years ago while he and his girlfriend, Kassy Quinn, were visiting friends on the Island. Smith is a master jeweler and gemologist with 25 years experience, 20 owning his own jewelry store in Pennsylvania.

During their two-month visit, they discovered an empty shop on Bridge Street and discussed how great it would be to open a jewelry store on the Island and stay. As fate will have it, a short time later they discovered there was already a jewelry story for sale two doors down from the empty shop they were looking at. Even the airlines played a role in their "it was just meant to be" decision by bringing them back to the Island after a long airport delay helping them to make their ultimate choice.

In September of last year, Brad Smith became a business owner on Anna Maria Island with the opening of Bridge Street Jewelers, the only fine jeweler on either Anna Maria Island or Longboat Key. Bridge Street Jewelers’ inventory includes diamonds, precious and semi precious stones, gold and platinum jewelry, as well as antique and estate jewelry.

With the help of Kevin Shonkwiler and John Krake, both of whom have many combined years in the jewelry business, Bridge Street Jewelers is able to provide a full range of services to its customers. Watch and jewelry repairs, appraisals, cleaning, diamond settings, watch batteries and ring sizing are just some of the services provided by the experienced staff.

But what really sets Bridge Street Jewelers apart is the exclusive Anna Maria Island Destination Bracelet. The bracelet was inspired by Kassy Quinn’s belief that people want to bring something home from vacation that is more Quinn and Smith combined their jewelry design background and experience and came up with a tropical design reflecting the nautical nature of the Island and containing the initials A.M.I. The bracelets, which are affordably priced, come in sterling silver with 14K gold or all gold with some having a diamond accent. They are being purchased by both men and women.

From the first day they were available the bracelets have been flying out the door. Everyone from brides purchasing them as gifts for their bridal party to full time residents and visitors have gone bananas over the bracelet. The popularity of the bracelet has now resulted in Bridge Street Jewelers developing an exclusive line of Swiss AMI watches, earrings, pendants and rings. And if you happen to live on or visit Longboat Key, Bridge Street Jewelers has designed a Longboat Key Destination Bracelet as well.

In keeping with Anna Maria’s unique nature, Brad Smith has embellished the wall of the shop with coastal art purchased from private collections by Wyland and Jim Warren, which is all for sale. And don’t miss the Swarovski crystal jewelry boxes scattered around the shop designed as crabs, fish, turtles and other sea creatures.

Woody Allen once said, "I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member," but then Allen has probably never seen the Anna Maria Island Destination Bracelet or the Island’s sunsets.

Bridge Street Jewelers
129 Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday through Saturday
12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday
Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
The importance of the savings rate

Investment Corner

We would all likely agree, especially now that frugality is back in style, that a high rate of savings is a good thing, both at the personal and national level. Savings allows families and nations to build wealth, reduce reliance on debt and weather the inevitable economic recessions easier than someone who is cash strapped. Perhaps, most importantly, a life of strong savings can allow for flexibility and quality of life in the years after you choose to hang up the business suit for a golf shirt.

There has been a lot of negative press directed at the low savings rate of the United States as a nation for the last couple decades. In the 1960s and 1970s the savings rate was in the 6 to 10 percent range, but in the early 1980s began a descent that has taken it to as low as zero during the early 2000s. The rate actually went negative for a brief period in 2005. As the economy has slowed in the last year, savings has seemed to recover somewhat.

I believe some of the criticism is warranted because we have seen some of our fellow citizens let debt get out of control and make their lives miserable as they struggle to keep up with mounting payments. Some succumb to bankruptcy as a way out, but the lasting effects from that process may not be so fun either.

Some criticism could also be levied at the method used to calculate the savings rate and the artificially low level it indicates we, as a nation, are saving. Here’s the very simple method used to keep track of a national savings rate: Income – federal tax – expenditures = savings

Simple enough, right? Makes sense until you look at the items that are not included, or in some cases included, that tend to drive the indicated rate down.

Income includes only job-related income and social security. Income from private pension plans and capital gains are not counted. When employers make contributions to a retirement plan it is counted, but not the higher value that is drawn as income after a worker retires and the value of the assets in the plan have appreciated over time.

The appreciation in value of the houses and investments we own (No, I’m not joking, but I am considering long periods of time) creates wealth that is spendable at some point in the future, but none of this is captured in the calculation of the savings rate.

What is captured is the total of all federal taxes paid. Even taxes paid on capital gains realized when appreciated assets are sold and the tax paid on private pension income is counted, even though the growth of the asset that created the taxable income is not.

The interesting phenomena is that when times are good and asset values are rising, the savings rate tends to go down. We pay more in taxes due to more capital gains on our investments and we may spend more because we feel good about our prospects, yet the increase in the value of the investments does not count while the higher amounts of taxes and expenditures do. Recently, the savings rate has been rising as the economy entered the current recession. Doesn’t make much sense at first glance, but when you consider that no one is paying any capital gains taxes of significance due to the drop in asset values and we all seem to be spending less, so the savings rate tends to rise during harder economic times.

There seems to be some dispute as to whether the savings rate accurately includes 401K and IRA contributions and I was unable to find conclusive data before finalizing this article. One other item of note – inheritance does not appear to be factored into the savings rate calculation. The largest inter-generational transfer of wealth in history started several years ago, and will carry on for several more years. We have households inheriting appreciated assets which are not counted as income and tend to force the indicated savings rate down, even though the inheriting family is now wealthier than before.

The dispute will go on, but I suspect the answer is somewhere in between. We should, as a nation, be saving more, but we may not be as bad off as some would have you believe. After all, recent estimates place the amount of cash held in short-term savings instruments at over $8 trillion, and that doesn’t count the still sizable values of stocks and bond holdings owned by investors. Seems like someone is saving something around here.

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.

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