Tarpon Bay Explorers Promotes New Gift Shop Manager

provided to The Santiva Chronicle

Tarpon Bay Explorers, the concession for the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, recently promoted Laura Emerson as the company’s new gift shop manager and buyer.

In addition to providing eco-tours and rentals for the refuge, Tarpon Bay Explorers has a nature-themed gift shop, 900 Tarpon Bay Rd., which carries an impressive and diverse assortment of merchandise. Items range from nature-themed home décor, cook books, adult and children clothing to fishing tackle and field guides.

“Our prior Gift Shop Manager and Buyer Patty Clark recently retired,” said TBE managing partner Wendy Schnapp. “Patty did an incredible job. She was creative, passionate and had a great eye for new retail for our gift shop. Patty has been with us since our inception in 2002, but decided it was time to spend more time with her growing family, especially her grandchildren.”

Emerson joined the TBE family in November 2021. Originally from Northeast Ohio, Emerson moved to the area in 2012. She wanted to escape the north’s cold and wanted the promise of warm sun and coastal living. She previously worked at a trade school as the financial aid leader and has held other jobs while living on the island before going to TBE.

While living on the island, Emerson has garnered a deep appreciation for the refuge and how its influence has created the special sanctuary Sanibel has become.

“It seemed like a natural fit,” said Emerson. “I love the relationship that Tarpon Bay Explorers has with the refuge. “Ding” Darling is a huge reason why this island is so special. Tarpon Bay itself is a special place. I love not only all of the activities we offer, but the gift shop has always been amazing.

“The gift shop is a big part of Tarpon Bay and I am really looking forward to curating a unique space that people will want to come back to year after year,” continued Emerson.

In her spare time, she enjoys the simple spoils a barrier island provides like reading a book at the beach.

“We are excited to have Laura on board in a big way,” said Schnapp. “We’re excited to showcase the gift shop to all our visitors this upcoming season.”

Tarpon Bay Explorers is open every day but Christmas. The company provides eco-tours on kayaks, standup paddleboards, Eco-Cruises and trams. Reservations are recommended. TBE also rents bikes, kayaks and SUPs on a first come, first serve basis from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hobie Fishing Kayaks and pontoon boat rentals require a reservation. Fishing Charters are also available upon reservation. Check out the TBE website or call 239-472-8900 for more information, prices and reservations.

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