FORT MYERS, Fla. — On Tuesday, several Sanibel Island businesses were still calling the Bell Tower shopping plaza in Fort Myers home after losing their location on the island during Hurricane Ian.
Tom Stumph, of the Sanibel Candle Company spoke with Fox 4 about the two weeks leading up to Hurricane Ian.
“We had the candle bar ready to go and then the hurricane took that away..we opened up here on March 1,” said Stumph.
Half a year after the storm Stumph said he and his wife Pam took their make-it-yourself candle company and like many other Sanibel Island businesses they decided to move into the Bell Tower shopping center.
“Other merchants followed and we all, eight of us ended up over here that lost our brick and mortar over there,” said Stumph.
This a pattern that Fox 4 has seen other barrier island businesses also follow.
Tom Houghton, the owner of La Ola, spoke with Fox 4 about opening his second location at the mall around the same time as the Sanibel Candle Company.
“It sure feels good to have a location that isn't so vulnerable and at risk, I have to be able to think of my staff and make sure that I can provide constant employment for them," said Houghton.
On Tuesday, Tom Stumph said he does want a second Sanibel Candle Company location to be back on the island, but said it had to be at the right time.
“When Sanibel becomes rebuilt to the point where there’s enough tourism to justify the return we are certainly interested in that,” said Stumph.
Stumph told Fox 4 he is interested in the days ahead, where he expected the first tourism season for Southwest Florida since Hurricane Ian, to be a good one.
“We expect from now going forward is when we will get a lot more business,“ said Stumph.