How to find inspiration in Shreveport-Bossier (and a Giveaway)

FullSizeRender-1Do you have something that makes you cringe when you hear it? Something that drives you to roll your eyes and stomp your feet? I sure do. When I hear the phrase “there’s nothing to do in Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana” I have to restrain myself from completely wigging out. You see, when I first moved to Shreveport-Bossier, I will admit that I said it myself. I moved here from South Louisiana and I really just wanted to go home. For many years, I went to work and then headed straight to my house. On occasion, I looked to the arts and entertainment section of the newspaper to find things that might be of interest to my family. I didn’t know many people that could help connect me to the community, so I just stayed home. That was then. And now, I subscribe to the thought that there are things to do wherever you may be.

Somewhere along the way I found out that if I wanted to be connected to a community, I first needed to leave my house, and secondly, I had to put some effort in on my part. I kind of had to be a researcher in my own life. I started, uncomfortably and awkwardly, attending events. I visited tourist welcome centers to find attractions located in Shreveport-Bossier. I scoured the newspapers to find events. I asked people what was going on in town. As the internet became more ingrained in my life, Googling and Facebook events became the go-to places for my inspiration. These are all fantastic ways to get information, and I will maintain that flow, but my favorite way to get the SB scoop is through the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau’s (SBCTB) newly redesigned website Shreveport-Bossier.org. Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 3.36.00 PMThis website has been around for a while and was already one of my go-to sites, and in particular, the SB Fun Guide link that holds the events page. Today the SBCTB unveiled a redesign of the website with a celebratory launch party at Great Raft Brewing. SBCTB President Stacy Brown gave an introduction to area partners and shared some of the new features of the website. With the redesign, there is so much inspiration and a resource for both locals and tourism visitors. What you will find out is that Shreveport-Bossier has more to do than you can even imagine.

What can you expect to find on the site?  Maps, brochures, photo and video galleries, trip advisor and social media integration, geo-triggers for coupons and events, and itinerary planning:

  • CASINOS – gaming, night life and horse racing
  • THINGS TO DO – Attractions, shopping, family fun, sports, nightlife, group experiences and outdoor recreation. Be sure to click on the Attractions Link to see the multitude of experiences such as performing arts, museums, art galleries and historic places. There is also a great link for free offerings!
  • EVENTS – Festivals, music and annual events – <<<< This is one of my favorite parts of the site because it hosts the SB FUN GUIDE, which is the event driven piece
  • RESTAURANTS – food and drinks!
  • HOTELS – where to stay
  • MY TRIP – a personal trip planner to build an itinerary for a visit to the big SB

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.06.05 AMIn my job at Holiday Lanes, I have become active in the SB Attractions Association and am currently serving as president of the association. One of my personal goals is to share local event information with as many people as possible in the community. First, I’m asking my attraction/hotel/restaurant/travel industry colleagues to BE AWARE that you can UPDATE your venues on the newly designed site; and ADD events to the SB Fun Guide. For the event driven page to be successful, it will take input from those who are planning, marketing or hosting local events. The SB Fun Guide is also undergoing redesign and will hopefully be launched next week (Feb 2016). Secondarily, I want this site to be top-of-mind for locals and visitors when looking for inspiration for things to do in Shreveport-Bossier.  Chris Jay, social media and public relations manager of the SBCTB, says that he is super excited that the new site will allow easy and quick uploading of featured events which will showcase partners, whether they are festivals, restaurants or attractions. Ideally, a venue would like to promote for several weeks, or months, prior to an event, but being able to make changes in a matter of minutes will be transformative for local tourism partners who might find themselves in need of a last-minute promotional boost.

So . . . how do you find inspiration in Shreveport-Bossier?

And, how do you WIN A GIVEAWAY?

One lucky That Just Happened blog reader will receive Bowling for Six people from Holiday Lanes. Simply go to Shreveport-Bossier.org, find the attractions link and locate the Holiday Lanes link on the site. Paste the Holiday Lanes Attraction page link in the comments section below AND THEN tell me which part of the Shreveport-Bossier.org website gave you a bit of inspiration. Winner will be announced on February 17, 2016.

Panderina Soumas and David Doe, local ambassadors and SB visitor guide cover models share a smile at the website Launch Party.

Other ways to connect with the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau:

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes

 

Rosewood Home Market is a family affair

imageI’m super excited to share about a new business in Bossier City. Rosewood Home Market celebrates with a Bossier Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting. Owner Suzanne Wilson lends her home decor talents with one of a kind vintage, urban, and farmhouse home decor. With a huge smile, Suzanne tells me that she was decorating her home and couldn’t find exactly what she wanted around town and decided to open a business. Isn’t that a great reason to start a business? I think so.
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This business is definitely a family affair. Husband, daughter, sister, mom, dad, mother-in-law, son-in-law, cousins, and of course the chosen family: best friend, were all there early making sure all the details were squared away for the arriving guests. I heard “is everything marked”, “paw-paw, does this look ok?”, hey, who left this here?”. It felt kind of like being at the family Thanksgiving dinner preparations.
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At Rosewood Home Market, you will find an array of gorgeous home decor, writing papers, soaps and gardening accessories. They have a mix of new and antique items. Suzanne mentioned that they had about 30% antiques in stock. Many of the things in her store are made by local artists, such as paintings, t-shirts, cotton wreaths, farm doors and furniture. This gives a new venue for local artists to sell their creations. I probably should have left my pocketbook at home.
imageI was interested to find out that Rosewood Home Market will be carrying locally grown flowers in the Spring. I’m a flower girl. Flowers make me smile! I’ve always wanted a place to stop in and grab a bunch of naturally grown blooms to cheer up my house and as gifts for my friends. Farm to store. Cut flowers. Not bred for shipping. This will be such a treat.
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As the ribbon cutting was beginning, Suzanne’s dad led the event in an overwhelmingly emotional prayer that showed how proud he was of his daughter. It again made me feel like I was around the family dinner table.
imageRosewood Home Market is located at 2850 Douglas Drive Suite A in Bossier City, LA. Stop by and find something special for your home.

 

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes

Keeping Rhythm of Life

IMG_5971Fireworks and congratulations to the Residence Inn by Marriott located at 501 Traffic Street in Bossier City on their Bossier Chamber of Commerce and Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting. Owner, Mike Kalthia welcomed the guests with great excitement.

RI Owner, Mike Kalthia and Bossier Chamber of Commerce President, Lisa Johnson

RI Owner, Mike Kalthia and Bossier Chamber of Commerce President, Lisa Johnson

With 131 rooms, Bossier City’s newest hotel boosts many great amenities, such as free laundry, fully equipped kitchens, and free breakfast. The Residence Inn Shreveport-Bossier City/Downtown is an all suite hotel, with extended stay as a focus and is a Dimension Development managed property. Although extended stay is a focus, Residence Inn can accommodate any overnight stays. Jennifer Boone, sales manager says that one of the great things about Residence Inn is that they assist their guests in keeping the rhythm of life. Traveling can disrupt normal routines and Residence Inn’s offer ways for guests to continue to thrive in their personal and business routines.

One service that all Residence Inn’s provide, but very few take advantage of is complimentary grocery shopping. Leave a list at the front desk and your food will be waiting in your room upon your return. This is an important part of my travel life, as I try to maintain a somewhat heathy diet. Many times, I walk to nearby grocery stores in an effort to maintain my normal eating habits. Now that I know this bit of info, I will be looking forward to using the service. This makes it easy to travel with a plan.

In addition to hotel rooms, the Residence Inn has tasteful and spacious event areas for meetings and conferences with catering services available.

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Ethel, Gary and Felicia want to make your stay fabulous

New business is always great for Shreveport-Bossier and I hope you’ll keep Residence Inn at the front of your mind when in need of hotel rooms for family and work associates. General Manager, Gary Theus, promises to offer the best service around.

Residence Inn Shreveport-Bossier City/Downtown is located at 501 Traffic Street, Bossier City, LA 71111. (318) 584-7125

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes

 

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Fireworks add to the ribbon cutting festivities

Aloha

My usual shares are from the Shreveport-Bossier area, but considering I’m with my co-workers in Hawai`i for a bowling conference, I find it fun to post a few (ok, a lot) of photos from our visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center.  

Scroll through to see the Louisiana I found in Hawai`i.

Aloha – That Just Happened,

Robin

    
    
    
  
  
    
    
    
 
   
   
 

    
   
 

Oil and Vinegar Does Mix

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The rays of sun shine down on the ribbon cutting

Most people have heard the saying “oil and vinegar don’t mix”. Well, Bella Nonnas Olive Oil and Vinegar Tasting Bar will change your mind about that as they bring a new concept in eating healthy to the Shreveport-Bossier area.

In 2013, Barbie Page convinced Carline Procell, while on a girls trip in Florida, to visit a fresh olive oil tasting shop. bn11After tasting the “fresh” oil, they both knew this was something that needed to be explored further. Carline was diagnosed in 2007 with breast cancer and she understood the many health benefits of olive oil and vinegar. She explained to me that olive oil and vinegar both have a long list of health benefits, including containing cancer-fighting nutrients. Carline and Barbie began ordering oils through the mail, learning more about the benefits and flavors. Eventually they attended a conference in California where they were trained to judge and taste olive oil. These gals know their oil and vinegar and want to share their knowledge with the community. Oil and vinegar does mix!

bn02Making healthy eating choices was only part of the journey for Barbie and Carline. The flavors are as important and they want people to learn how to cook with their products.They encourage their customers to understand the tastes and benefits of using Bella Nonnas oils and vinegars. They love to pair oils and vinegars with foods and share the experience of learning, tasting and cooking. In addition to selling oil and vinegar, they offer Olive Oil 101 classes, pairings and cooking demos.

bn04Bella Nonnas says that olive oil is best when fresh and vinegar is best when aged. In fact, most olive oils that are purchased in grocery stores are already rancid and we have become accustomed to low quality. Bella Nonnas’ freshness will  surprise you. The oils they sell have been crushed within six months. Their inventory of oil and vinegar includes over 1000 pairings from all over the world, which makes it part of the fun. A few of my favorites were the Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar, Butter Infused Olive Oil, Chipotle Olive Oil, Serrano Honey Balsamic Vinegar and the 18 year aged vinegar. They offer trial sizes, small bottles, large bottles and gift packs of oils and vinegars. Bring your empty bottle back when you finish to get $2 credit toward your next purchase. In addition, they carry salts, soaps books and original pottery by Gretchen Murchison of Natchitoches  Online ordering of vinegar and oil is available. (Think holiday gifts)

Bella Nonnas is located at 1409 E. 70th Street, Suite 107-B, Shreveport, Louisiana. Bella Nonnas is a member of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce and The Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce. Several restaurants around the area are test serving Bella Nonna products. Ask if you go: 

  • 2Johns
  • L’Italiano
  • Roma’s

Want more information about Bella Nonnas Olive Oil and Vinegar Tasting Bar?

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes

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Barbie Page and Carline Procell, owners of Bella Nonnas Olive Oil and Vinegar Tasting Bar

Barbie Page and Carline Procell, owners of Bella Nonnas Olive Oil and Vinegar Tasting Bar

 

There is Hope in Collaboration

IMG_1161It is so easy to get caught up in our worries and feel like nothing is good in life. I’ve been feeling a bit down lately and it can be consuming. Today I was reminded that while my worries may be valid, there is always someone out there who has things a little (and a lot) worse. My friend, Candace invited me to tour HOPE for the Homeless, a.k.a. HOPE Connections Drop-In-Center, which is a collaboration of organizations and individuals dedicated to ending homelessness in Northwest Louisiana. Candace is a member of the board for the Volunteers of America North Louisiana (VOA) and she wanted to share how they are partnering with other agencies to provide hope in our community.

The Vision of HOPE for the Homeless is that no individual or family has to experience homelessness in Northwest Louisiana.

IMG_1155I really had no idea what to expect. What I found was so touching. The Drop-In-Center is truly a place of collaboration from over 60 agencies that work together to provide a safe resting place and resource center for the homeless.

IMG_1154IMG_1158IMG_1162What I understand about the challenges of being homeless and trying to obtain help is that navigating the system can be daunting, partly due to the travel distance between agencies. This Center provides shower facilities, laundry facilities, telephones, computers, mail receipt, medical services, and job opportunities. It is run by certified Peer Support Specialists that steer clients towards services that will help them obtain and maintain permanent housing.

IMG_1166What touched me most was hearing from Tony. Tony is a homeless veteran who landed in Shreveport after some set-backs in life. Tony, was resistant to accepting help because he has a dog, Obi Wan Kenobi (a three-legged sweetie). Tony had been offered help from other agencies, but with stipulations that he had to get rid of Obi. This was not an idea open for discussion with Tony. As an animal lover, I understand not wanting to give up the companionship. When the case worker from HOPE for the Homeless assured Tony that they would find a way to help them both and then followed through on that assurance, a trust relationship was formed. Because of the collaborations of several agencies, hope was given to Tony in a way that has allowed for a transition into a safer living situation. It has also given Tony a way to contribute back to the community.

HOPE Connections is located at 2350 Levy Street in Shreveport, LA. I hope you will consider taking a tour of this facility, or one of other VOA tours available. The collaborative efforts being made in our community are outstanding. Upcoming tours dates are as follows:

  • Sept 2, 2015 – 11 am – Ballington Center at South Pointe Place – 1133 South Pointe Parkway, Shreveport
  • Sept 2, 2015 – 4 pm – Highland Center – 520 Olive Street, Shreveport
  • Oct 7, 2015 – 11 am – Lighthouse Bossier – 2101 Scott St, Bossier City
  • Nov 4, 2015 – 11 am – Veterans Facility – 453 Jordan St., Shreveport
  • Dec 2, 2015 – 11 am – Lighthouse – 802 Travis St, Shreveport

Want more information about Hope for the Homeless or VOA?

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There is hope in collaboration! I’m proud to live in an area where there are people that are working to improve the lives of everyone in the community.

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes

* Source: http://nwlahope.org/ and site visit