Originally from upstate New York, Laurie Holtzendorf, Owner of Bahama Mama’s, moved with her sister to Daytona Beach in 1982. She was fresh out of high school and, while her sister enrolled at Embry-Riddle, Laurie took classes at Daytona State College, then called Daytona Beach Community College. After living in Daytona for four years, she moved to Ormond-by-the-Sea. Laurie worked a variety of jobs, including boat deliveries as a licensed captain and a position as a Hydrographic Surveyor for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) before discovering an opportunity to be her own boss.
“I used to ride my bike up to Flagler Beach from Ormond-by-the-Sea,” Laurie said. “I’d always stop in and see the ladies at Bahama Mama’s. I loved their store and they were so sweet. One day I mentioned – half jokingly – if they ever wanted to sell it that they should give me a call. Two months later they called and said, ‘it’s yours if you want it’. I thought about it for a week or so and decided to give it a shot.”
At the time, Laurie was working at WyoTech – a marine, motorcycle and auto mechanic training school in Ormond Beach. She wasn’t happy in her current position, so the decision to purchase Bahama Mama’s in 2014 was relatively easy. Laurie shared her next steps and how she’s made the shop her own.
“I took out a loan to buy the business,” she said. “It was scary, but I did it. The previous owners stayed with us for the first couple of weeks to show us the ropes. Four years after I bought the business, I moved the store to a different location directly on A1A. This put us ocean front with much better visibility.”
Laurie added, “Along the way, I’ve put my own flair on the store and added new products – including local art and some wine glasses and candles that I decorate. Recently, I added bike rentals. We had a lot of people asking about bike and golf cart rentals, so I thought bikes would be the most cost-effective way to start doing rentals.”
Laurie also took to social media and revamped her website to generate new business. The efforts have paid off and Bahama Mama’s – complete with a shop cat named Stormy – has developed a great reputation among locals and visitors.
Despite having a love for the shop, for interacting with her customers and for being her own boss, Laurie was quick to point out that owning a business, while rewarding, is a lot of work.
“Some days, I get here at 3a.m. and I’ll work late into the evening,” she said. “It’s hard work. A lot of effort also goes into keeping the store fresh. You can’t just leave things the way they are. You have to keep switching things up. Regardless, I love it.”
Looking ahead, Laurie’s long-term goal is to live directly above her shop. That may require moving to a different location in Flagler Beach, but she’s determined to make it happen. She envisions eventually selling the business, but owning the property and collecting rent as a source of income.
What advice does Laurie have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Just know that if you really want to have your own business, that it’s 10 times more work and time than working for a corporation,” she said. “I’m here all the time. Also, you won’t be successful overnight. You have to run the business for many years before you can sit back and relax.”